No stranger to our shores, Irish-born Canadian contemporary folk singer Irish Mythen brings her huge voice, amazing stories and quick wit back to Gold Coast in March as she tours her latest acclaimed release, ‘Little Bones’. Five foot-nothing with a voice that reaches the stars, Irish captivates audiences across the globe with her natural born talent, twinkling eyes and authentic stage presence, and Gold Coast audiences will be no exception when she hits the stage at HOTA early this month. We shot her a few questions ahead of her show.
We love having you here, but it seems you love being here just as much! Tell us a bit about your love affair with Australia.
My love affair with Australia started in 2000. I ended up moving to Perth and it was incredible. Everything about the country was a complete eye-opener for me. The smells and tastes the feel of the air, the animals, the terrain – everything was different to what I’ve ever seen before. Everything was alive to me, and I’m not just talking about the usual tourist ‘creepy crawlies alive to me’… I just saw that everything was so vibrant, the music was so good and so new to my ears, and then thousands of thousands of years of history with your Aboriginal people…what’s there not fall in love with!
People who see you live often rave about the connection they feel to you up on the stage. Is it mutual? And when it comes to making music, to what degree is connecting with other humans a motivating factor for you?
100% of what I do relies on the crowd that’s before me. People like you say, often talk about the connection and the passion that I give on stage but it’s not half of what I get from the audience. The main fact for me is if there’s no connection there’s no real show. From the very moment I started in this business I knew the way I wanted to do it. It was about me, my guitar, my voice, my songs, and the people in front of me. Anything else that came along, like the making of the albums, the nominations and awards and the world tours, they are of course incredible, but when it all comes down to it, it’s about me and the crowd and that one time one energy -one show never to be repeated in the same way… it’s magic.
Can you tell us about some of the more personal truths that you poured into ‘Little Bones’, and in what ways that album was a catharsis for you?
I knew from the very beginning when I went into the recording studio what type of album I wanted to make. It was to be a fine balance between stories I wanted to tell about personal things that were related directly to me, and then the more serious topical political or historical things. The latter is not always easy to write about, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Some of the songs are quite triggering but if we don’t own up about the past how the hell are we supposed to look into the future?
For someone who seems to be such a natural born performer, it’s hard to imagine you doing anything else with your time. But if music and performing wasn’t available to you, how do you think you would spend your days?
I would teach. Hands down the superheroes of my lifetime have been the teachers I’ve encountered along the way.
How does it feel to receive industry recognition such as awards and peer recognition like musicians you admire wishing to collaborate?
It’s incredible. The awards and nominations are fantastic but to be asked to collaborate with another artist you admire, well that’s just the pinnacle for me.
In my experience of Ireland, every person there seems born with a song in their heart, and music seems to be at the core of every event. Yet you’ve said about (where you now live) Prince Edward Island, Canada that it “creates music and musicians, art and artists,” and enabled you to take your music more seriously. I’m curious about your perspective on what the difference is between the two places.
The two places are so similar. Prince Edward Island is a small island with a collection of brilliant, hard-working, artistic, creative, family-orientated, history-carrying and storytelling people. And sure doesn’t that sum up Ireland as well. I’m so privileged to call both my home.
This interview will be printed in our International Women’s Day edition, so I’d love to hear your thoughts about any women who have inspired, mentored or just been by your side throughout your musical journey.
To try and name all the incredible women and non-binary folks who have inspired and driven me onwards would honestly take up this entire interview. From Countess Markievicz to Buffy Saint Marie and anyone who is brave enough to create, brave enough to stand against what just isn’t right even if it doesn’t affect them directly, those that change the laws and ways, the grandmother you’ll never learn the name of that changes the lives of a whole community… look it goes on and on. Women rule the world, we just don’t brag about it 😉
What does the rest of your 2020 look like?
I’ve been nominated for a Canadian Grammy (Junos) and so straight from this tour I go to that awards show and also perform and hopefully the Academy will shine upon me – hahaha! Then tours in Canada and then June to September in Europe AND I AM GETTING MARRIED! So yeah 2020 is massive.
Catch Irish Mythen when she hits the HOTA Basement stage on 7 March. Tickets are available at hota.com.au.