New York based, Cork born songwriter Niall Connolly has released 8 studio albums, a live album and an EP. His latest album ‘Dream Your Way Out of This One’ features collaborations with his long term NYC band as well as guest appearances from Glen Hansard (Once, The Frames, The Swell Season) Javier Más ( Leonard Cohen’s band) and Deni Bonet (REM, Cyndi Lauper, Sarah McLachlan). Connolly has toured all over Europe and the US including festival appearances at Glastonbury, CMJ, Prague Fringe Festival, Acoustic Festival Düsseldorf, Cork Folk Festival and Cuala NYC. He has opened for Glen Hansard, Lisa Hannigan, Lucius, Evan Dando, Eugene Kelly, Lambchop, Mick Flannery, Wallis Bird, MisterWives and many more. He is the founder of Big City Folk Collective. Big City Folk hosts over 100 events annually throughout New York City and State as well as a biennial music festival.
NM: What’s it been like for musicians like yourself over the past 12 months? Any silver linings?
NC: It has been very strange. I've spent much of my adult life travelling the world singing to strangers in small rooms, so obviously, all of that is on hold. It has taken some reimagining. I know I am very privileged and fortunate to be able to say that I have also been afforded many silver linings in this time. It is very hard to justify taking time off, or slow down when you work for yourself, so whilst it has been unnerving to have everything suddenly change, I have also welcomed the chance to slow down. I have had more opportunities to write and I have had more family time. I feel quite a bit healthier for those reasons. I have a two year old who keeps me on my toes and it's been beautiful, exhausting and inspiring to have so much time with her. In fact, I feel like my 2020 reading has largely been divided between the horrors of the news and reading children's books. Dr Seuss pairs well with US news headlines. So, yes, there are silver linings, I truly appreciate them, especially in light of the extreme suffering, loss and hardship that so many are facing right now.
I've been performing live-streams twice a week throughout the pandemic. I never performed a live-stream before mid-March. I played my 77th one today. I have been surprised by how intimate they can feel. You definitely can't beat the real thing, the sensation of singing in a room, sharing an evening with people in the same time and space, it cannot be beaten, but, I have found much more of a sense of community in my live-stream series than I would have expected. I have also been blown away by the support I´ve received through the live streams and my patreon page.
NM: I´m guilty of having not been able to tune into as many as I had wished, but they seem to be going well. Do you think these are just temporary tools or will musicians be able to incorporate them into future gigs and tours?
NC: I hope they are never a visible component of future gigs. I don't want to see someone performing at my favourite venue also interacting with people online, but, simultaneously broadcasting, why not, maybe, I don't know? I suppose, I don't know, is the only true answer there. They have been extremely helpful for me in terms of staying in touch with fans and in terms of staying on top of my game, performance wise, in terms of staying sane. From a personal point of view, it has been hard not to travel and see my family in Ireland, so I have again, really appreciated the technology that allows me to see and speak with them regularly. Though I think my daughter now believes that, 'Can you hear me now? What about now? Can you hear me? I can't see you? I can see you but I can't hear you? Can you hear me?", I think she believes this is just the way calls are supposed to begin.
My father remembers electricity coming to their childhood home, amazing to think that many of his generation have lived from that time to the age of zoom calls and live streams.
NM: Tis indeed. I have no idea how we are going to explain this past year to our kids in the future. But anyhow - you released a single - Maybe Next Year - during the pandemic… Does that mean there’s a new album on the way?
Yes. It will be out in the future. Definitely not before then, hopefully for quite sometime after. Watch this spacer, I mean space for more news. www.niallconnolly.com
NM: No Cause For Alarm has been my anthem for the pandemic - Are there any other songs or albums that you’ve been listening to during these times because they’re uplifting or resilient?
NC: Thank you. I've been listening to the 2016 album Case/Lang/ Veirs a lot while in the car recently. It's an excellent collaborative record between Neko Case, K.D. Land and the wonderful Laura Veirs. Very uplifting melodies and well crafted songs. It's a great driving album. Ger Wolfe is never far from my playlist and I'm looking forward to hearing his new album. My friends Mick Flannery and Warren Malone put out great music this year too. Now that the Christmas lights are up in our house I revisited Low's 1999 'Christmas' album the other night too. It's a beauty. I've listened to a lot of Podcasts this year too. Readers, please share what you've been listening to too?
Do post your answers to that questions and, in the meantime, click on the image below to be carried off to Niall`s Bandcamp page where you can listen to tracks and, hopefully, buy some albums.