Why did you choose to focus on James Joyce?
I found it online after I had finished a tough movie. I was looking for something beautiful I could set to music quietly by myself (without the chaos of the film world on your shoulders). I stumbled across the title by accident and the rest followed!
How did you work on this project? How did you combine music and words?
I started off with two songs and heard Kurt Elling’s voice in my head … I would write with pencil and paper (the old fashioned way) and would write the basic melody to the words. Sometimes as is, or in other cases I needed to combine a few poems together to make a complete song form. These were written as poems, but it was obvious from the start that there was music all throughout the language and metre. Once I got them into a basic shape, I would hire a demo singer and get them up to a certain level.. then a movie would come in and I’d let them ferment for a while. I didn’t choose a style to write them in – the words dictated where the melody went, then they fell naturally into my worlds of jazz, Irish, filmic, R&B, classical, etc.
How did you choose the guest musicians?
There are a lot of friends on the album. I was the artist-in-residence with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at the time, so I combined a concert with a recording the same week as a deadline, to get most of the album recorded.
Glenn Close and I have remained good friends after our collaboration on the movie Albert Nobbs. Kurt Elling was my first choice for the album and I was empowered to finish it when he recorded one of the tracks on his own album Passion World. Julian Lennon is a friend from other projects. Kurt Elling brought Sara Gazarek and Kate McGarry to the project. I found Balsam Range after researching authentic Bluegrass bands – I just loved their honesty and authenticity. I’m a fan of Declan O’Rourke and Jack Lukeman, and they are friends. Everyone else I had worked with before.
You moved in the early decade to LA; did this change your approach to composing and playing? If yes, – how?
I moved to become a film composer and was lucky to get some great breaks, but I definitely think it didn’t allow me to perform and play piano as much live. I have a real bug now to perform live again, and Goldenhair is the perfect platform to allow me to do that.
Music and the web: a curse or a gift?
Definitely a gift. I do 80% of sessions and demos online… I do most of my correspondence online… it’s a gift in that sense. Financially it has taken a massive toll on the music business, as people can just stream or download anything now, so it’s up to us creators and players to come with a way to make it work in other ways. Everything is heading towards live again, which is great.
Which are your next projects?
I am currently scoring a movie called Black 47, I’m about to start a documentary about the lives of people affected by the Northern Ireland troubles, and another feature film straight after that. I’m also writing a brand new, funk-inspired album of songs and tunes, with words by my wife Kasey Jones. We will be trying out some of the tunes live in Dublin on Oct 26th at the Sugar Club in Dublin. So it’s pretty hectic right now.
Will you tour Europe to present Goldenhair?
Yes, I will be in Ireland in October to record the score for Black 47, and to perform Goldenhair live as part of the Richard Harris International Film Festival on October 28th. I will also be performing Goldenhair live in Los Angeles on October 18th, as part of IrelandWeek.
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