Kinfolk: The Story Behind the Album (Interview)

 Also in this edition: Janet M. Christel and Maeve Mackinnon

 Brian McDaid explains how Irish music shaped both their styles and also the new album they are working on.

I was interacting with Gerry Power before this interview started. Brian McDaid arrived a week ago for a few gigs. Gerry decided to hand the questions to Brian and he took the honor to answer in behalf of them. I think this is a nice turn since I am curious as to what Brian thinks about their musical career.

This whole thing started because I love the work they put out in the Kinfolk album This Land. I think that as a music lover, the satisfaction doesn’t end in hearing the entire album. One needs to KNOW the process behind and the inspiration plus perspiration that gave way to a beautiful album.

So to quench your curiosity if you are one of those who bought This Land, then this is it! Enjoy.

It’s been years since the release of Kinfolk which is in impressive album wrapped in both traditional and modern beauty. When will we hear another album from you and Brian?

We are currently working on a new album and hope to have it completed by early next year.

I noticed that a lot of Irish artists who are based in the UK getting more visibility in the scene these days. How is the state of Irish music in Britain?

Irish music has been pretty strong in the UK for a number of years. However with the resurgence in popularity of the general folk scene in the UK, with bands such as Mumford and Sons, Irish Music has also benefitted and is attracting more and more young people to listen to and appreciate this genre of music.

Can you name the 5 albums that changed your life and made you love being in the music industry?

Pretty difficult. I have been influenced by numerous types of music, but as a youngster, if I was to name any album which really made a difference it would be ‘Harvest’ by Neil Young. Other influences include James Taylor, America, The Eagles, [which readily explains our use of harmonies!], Steely Dan and Led Zeppelin. Pretty wide and diverse really.  However as a young boy and having Irish parents our house was always resounding to the sounds of Irish and folk music and I particularly remember the songs of the Clancy Brothers and the sounds of Planxty. Also being a Glasgow Celtic football fan and with their Irish traditions, many Irish folk songs are sung on a regular basis by the fans. And when you hear 60,000 people singing together it can certainly raise the spirit and influence you!

I love your song Donegal and it is a love letter you wrote for a place. How huge is the influence of County Donegal to your style of making music?

Gerry in studio

Quite simple. This is a song about my Dad who likes many young people from Ireland, left Donegal when he was a young man and came to find work in the UK. As a child I often went on holiday to Buncrana in Donegal visiting relatives. On their retirement my parents were lucky enough to be able to build a house there overlooking Lough Swilly which all the family still visit on a regular basis and the view from the house is what influenced ‘Wonderful Day’ on the Kinfolk Album. So in answer to your question County Donegal has obviously influenced my song writing!

 I know that Bound for New York City strikes a universal chord to the Irish diaspora. What sparked the idea of writing this track?

This is a song which came about while we were recording ‘This Land’. We had been working in the studio all day and were trying to find a middle eight for one of the tracks [I can’t remember now which one]. It was about 11 o’clock at night and we were obviously in the ‘zone’ and between us we came up with the idea and had most of it recorded within 2 or 3 hours. Sometimes it just seems to happen like that and sometimes it can take forever!

From the time you both worked on this project, what do you think has changed?

We feel our songwriting has developed and we have grown as musicians as a consequence of playing with various bands and playing a variety of styles. We hope to show this on the new album while still maintaining our strong Celtic influence.

 If given a chance to collaborate with other artists what are the names that you both would like to work with?

Brian in studio

There are a lot of great song writers that the both of us admire. As far as Gerry is concerned he would like to to work with Steely Dan for their gorgeous harmonies and groove, Mark Knopfler for his tasteful country folk playing and Paul Brady, a long standing hero of Gerry’s, who has written some of the best songs he has heard. As far as I am concerned I must agree with what he says about Steely Dan and  someone who I particularly admire as a songwriter is Christy Moore. His songs tend to have a great ‘mood’ and I could learn a lot from his use of lyrics. However what I would like to do is spend more time with a good instrumentalist, fiddle player or accordionist, and explore and mix some of my more contemporary ideas together with the traditional. The idea would be to create something a bit more individual.

How do you two work on a song? What’s the collaborative process?

We have no set process. Sometimes one of us will present a complete song. The both of us will then work on it and ‘tweak’ it to give it the distinct ‘Kinfolk’ sound. Sometimes one of us has the initial idea lyrically or it may be a sequence of chords or a riff that starts the ball rolling. Other times one of us comes up with a chorus and we take it from there. We have actually written the ideas for a song over a pint in the pub – amazing how creative you can be after a couple of drinks!

There you have it. Another interesting moment with a musician and getting to know the process behind the song. Watch out for their upcoming album that will be out, hopefully early next year. Now that it’s done I will give This Land another spin and get lost among the beautiful tracks.

Buy the album here:

You can also listen to their tracks here:


Exquisite vocal siren Janet M. Christel

Photo: MK-Fotografie — at 37. Bardentreffen.

I miss vocal music! This is really refreshing. The voice and accent of Janet M. Christel are things that make her singing really distinctive. The arrangements are striking. Her music is a delectable bar of dark chocolate wrapped in soft caramel hazel nut core. Listen listen listen!


Maeve Mackinnon Her Music is like a Force of Nature.

Ok I got goosebumps listening to the style of Maeve Mackinnon. The music haunts you. Like the swaying tree amidst the howling wind, her voice is a spiritual force that can rattle the walls of your soul and open the sky of rain. This is the kind of music that draws me and it is hard to say no…to such music as Maeve Mackinnon’s. Her music page says: 1st October 2012 sees the release of “Once Upon an Olive Branch”, the second album from acclaimed contemporary Gaelic singer Maeve Mackinnon.


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