THIS week we catch up with singer-songwriter Grainne Hunt – having lent her powerful vocal talent to the likes of Mark Geary and Glen Hansard, Grainne is taking centre centre stage with her debut album, Firing Pin. On this, she marshalls a who’s who of Irish musical talent including Vyvienne Long, James Cramer and Graham Hopkins, with Joe Chester on production.
Grainne is part of Female Heroes, an all-female line-up playing Whelan’s on Mother’s Day, March 6, in conjunction with Oxjam. (Check out Grainne’s delicately defiant new single, No Way I’d Go Down, out today, and live dates below)
INTERVIEW: Fiona Smith
1. How has 2016 started off for you? What’s been your love of the year so far? And your least favourite thing?
2016 has been pretty good so far! It’s been busy – which is mad for so early in the year. I’ve had a few gigs already and been making loads of plans too.
Love of the year – Performing at Abner Brown’s Barbershop as part of his Women in Music Series. It’s great to see so many female performers being championed by the force that is Dave in Rathmines.
Least favourite thing – The music world has suffered some big losses this year already – globally and at home in Ireland. It’s very sad to lose heroes and icons, but also amazing to see how musicians touch so many lives.
2. You’ve just done some shows in the UK with your long-time collaborator Mark Geary, how did it go? Any memorable experiences?
The gigs were great! We did three very different gigs in Birmingham, Chippenham and Kettering. We’ve played Kettering a few times but the promoter has just started running gigs in her new bookshop, which is beautiful! We had a room full of lovely people listening to the music and our friend Dan Wilde opened the show. He has a new album coming out in April and it’s beautiful. We got to sing together and spend time with friends. That night has to be the highlight.
3. You brought out your debut album Firing Pin late last year. What’s your top track to perform live from it at the moment and why?
I always love performing Lilacs – it was the first single released from Firing Pin and I love playing it! Musically, it’s something I worked on for a long time, and after joining forces with James Cramer to finish it, I’m really proud of the finished song.
4. What’s the story with the Female Heroes Oxjam event in Whelan’s on Mother’s Day, March 6, linked to International Women’s Day?
Oxjam events showcase home-grown acts while raising money for Oxfam’s work in places like Syria and Sudan with long-term development projects that help people lift themselves out of poverty, and campaigning that raises the voice of the vulnerable. The Female Heroes Concert is to celebrate women everywhere – our mothers, daughters, sisters, girlfriends, nieces, best mates and work friends. This event will take place upstairs in Whelan’s on Mother’s Day, just ahead of International Women’s Day, along with performances by Katie Laffan and I Am Niamh. On the night, everyone will receive a beautiful ‘Heroes’ card as part of their ticket price.
5. As First Fortnight deals with mental health awareness through the arts, we always ask for your top three songs you turn to that lift your spirits or help you through tough times?
This first Youtube clip is a backstage recording of Stevie Nicks getting her makeup done and singing to a track being played in the background – she’s amazing!
I also love Sinead O’Connor’s performance of Mandinka at the 1989 Grammy’s – she’s so at ease and nails it – and she looks incredible!
I love Damien Dempsey’s album Shots – it’s a go-to for me – for the singing along, singing all your cares away!
Grainne’s single No Way I’d Go Down is out now – tour dates:
February 26th – SOLO – The CO Club, Oldcastle, Co. Westmeath, IE
March 5th – SOLO – The Record Break, Ennis, Co. Clare, IE
March 6th – SOLO – Oxjam Female Heroes Concert – Whelan’s upstairs, Dublin IE
March 19th – with Mark Geary – The New Theatre, Temple Bar, Dublin IE
March 21st – SOLO – Mná Mná Music – Galway, IE
March 31st – SOLO – The Purple Sessions, Boyles, Slane, Co. Meath, IE
April 8th – with Mark Geary – Private House Concert, Bray, Co. Wicklow, IE
April 9th – SOLO – Private House Concert, Trim (contact Grainne for more info)
April 23rd – with Mark Geary – Private House Concert, Westmeath
May 6th – 8th – SOLO – The Acoustic Yard Festival, Westport, Co. Mayo IE