Staying true to the roots while having a firm grip on the present!
Cara Dillon took time to answer this interview with The Celtic Music Fan. She talks about the new album A Thousand Hearts plus how she takes good care of her amazing voice! Photos by Paula.
This is a dream come true. I’ve been listening to the albums of Cara Dillon for years. It never occurred to me that one day she would be answering questions for The Celtic Music Fan. It seems far fetched at that time. I am glad it finally happened! Big thanks to my friend Paula who attended the concert (along with our common friend Gill). She was the one who connected me to Ali of Charcoal records. The pictures in this interview were taken during the concert.
1. Hi Cara, I am sure your global fans are excited about your latest offering “A Thousand Hearts”. Are you nervous, excited…happy?
I’m really thrilled to be releasing another album and I feel it’s some of my strongest work. I’m excited about what people may think and I hope they enjoy it as much as my others.
2. I checked the track listing and I noticed you recorded two Irish Gaelic tunes: ÉRIGH SUAS A STÓIRÍN and TÁIMSE IM’ CHODLADH. I am excited to hear your version of these Sean Nos songs. What encouraged to record them?
I’ve been singing Érigh Suas A Stóirín for over 20 years and even recorded it in my first band “Oige”. Sam had a different take on the song and has injected more energy into it. Táimse im’ Chodladh is a song that I’ve been aware of for many years and never felt confident enough to sing. It’s a beautiful melody and very intimate so I felt we should only record it when I was in the right mindset.
3. You are touring with Sam to promote the album. How’s it going so far?
It’s going fantastic. The concerts are almost all sold out and the audiences are amazing. They’re so attentive and they really seem to be hungry for the new material. I won’t lie, it’s a challenge to juggle family life with three children and going on the road to do shows and promotional appearances but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
4. You are now folk’s first lady. Are you thrilled about that?
I’m not sure I would agree…there are so many amazingly talented female performers out there, it seems that we all get a moment in the spotlight and I’m blessed that I’m passing through one now.
5. Tell us about your own label Charcoal Records.
Sam and I formed the label to release “Hill Of Thieves” in 2008. We had been signed to major labels since we were 19 years old and felt that we really needed to seize back control. We wanted to dictate our own agenda and schedules and it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. “Hill Of Thieves” has been my most successful by far and most recently led to us popping up on Sony’s radar who has just licensed “A Thousand Hearts” worldwide. It’s a dream situation as they essentially want to promote the record to as many people as possible without having any creative control over us. We also used the label to sign a duo called Winter Mountain who we saw open for us in a tiny pub in Donegal a few years back. Sam produced their debut album and they’re currently on tour throughout the UK and Ireland. It’s been a very satisfying journey helping give them the experience we never had while being signed to major labels. We can steer and advise them about the pitfalls of the industry and try to make it a fulfilling as possible….check them out, they’re amazing.
6. You mentioned that you don’t really search for materials in a conventional sense. How did you and your team approach the recording of A Thousand Hearts?
The team is just Sam and I so the buck stops with us. Both our heads are full of traditional songs and tunes. Some are favourites because we’ve known them since we were children, others are new or recently discovered. We just start playing songs together, starting with our favourites and see which ones jump out and take on a life of their own. After a while a solid collection forms and it becomes apparent if there needs to be additions to add light or shade. We never contemplate a song the other doesn’t like. There are some that we love that didn’t make it to the album as they didn’t fit with the others quite so well.
7. You have an amazing voice. How do you care for it? What are the things you avoid and things you incorporate to maintain such amazing talent?
Thank you. In all the years I’ve been singing you’re the first person to ask how I care for my voice. There is one golden rule…try not to talk or stay up late after a concert. I always do a few warm ups before I sing, usually over the course of an hour or so, this has the added benefit of helping me to relax as well. I almost always go out front to meet the audience and sign CD’s so there’s a bit of chatting, but if I get dragged to a pub or stay up late in the hotel bar then there’s usually only one outcome and that’s a weak voice the next few days.
8. I am a big fan of Sam Lakeman’s arrangement and production. What are the things that fans can expect in the new album?
I will let him know you’re a fan. He is so talented and always bows to the song. If you listen to my earlier albums his production is adventurous and expansive but on “A Thousand Hearts” it’s extremely intimate in places and full of driving rhythm in others. He always manages to pitch the tone of every song in exactly the right place. The new album is entirely acoustic and in places it sounds like the whole band is sitting in the same room playing live. He’s captured some really fine performances and the result is a natural and relaxed sound.
9. Where can they get A Thousand Hearts?
You can get signed copies of the CD direct from my online store. Also, this is my first album to be released on vinyl…just go to http://www.caradillon.co.uk
10. Thanks for your time!
You’re most welcome x
Cara Dillon performed with Winter Mountain. Pictures below.
Check out: http://www.caradillon.co.uk/