Sí’s FundIt Campaign

FundIt has been doing great things for Irish bands lately – Ten Past Seven recently hit their target and will now be able to head to a great recording studio and make an ace new record, while Nina Hynes received a whopping €10,000 from fans to make her long-awaited fourth album, Goldmine. Due to work commitments I wasn’t able to get up timely blogs about these two bands’ campaigns unfortunately, but I am able to post about a new FundIt campaign for an Irish musician who I’ve mentioned on the blog before, (aka Síle Ní Dhubhghaill).

Sí’s FundIt campaign differs from those above as she is looking to release her first album through this means, and unlike the others doesn’t have a huge fanbase in Ireland as she is a fairly new artist. But her music is simply beautiful and deserves to be heard by more people throughout Ireland and beyond. So I’m delighted that she was able to answer a few questions about the campaign to fill us in on what she’s hoping to do.

Hey Síle, can you tell me about this new FundIt campaign that you’ve launched – what is it in aid of?

Hello! I’ve started a Fundit campaign to get the money together to get my first album out – its recorded (and has been for ages) but I need to get some artwork done and get it packaged and duplicated etc… so I decided this was the best way to go about it! Otherwise it would probably still be sitting there gathering dust!

Why did you choose FundIt?

Fundit is an Irish site and I think that was my main reason for choosing it. There are quite a few good sites out there, like Indiegogo and Pledge, but I guess I felt like I should support Irish industry in any way I can. Plus its a very simple process to set up and use, and the person I was dealing with there was really helpful.

What appeals to you about sites like FundIt? Have you been inspired by any particular musicians and their success with this approach?

I think what I like most about this approach to arts funding is that it gives the artist more control over their output. The only people you really have to answer to are your projected audience, and they are the people you are putting the work out there for, so they are the most important voice in the process. If you are being funded by your audience to make something for your audience, I think you can give them a better finished project than if you also had to try to please a record label/bank/corporate funder.
More specific to my case, I wouldn’t be able to afford to bring out this album without some kind of help. Instead of sitting around waiting for a miracle, I can be proactive and get it done with the help of friends, family and the kindness of strangers!
The first person I knew of who did this was Laura Sheeran with her pledge campaign. As soon as I read about it I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard of this before and that it wasn’t being more widely used – it seems to have exploded a bit since then (although this may just be because I am noticing it). It really is a great way for independent artists to get their stuff out there. I think it fosters a really good community spirit between artists and their audience.

Can you tell me about your music and what people can expect from the album?

I never really know how to describe my music. I studied music from a young age and I think the songwriting was always something quite personal to me that I did at home, where other types of music were for studying and performing. So the songs came out as very personal and honest, maybe because I thought I would only ever be playing them at home or at a tiny gig with all my friends in the audience.

In a way they are also a catharsis – when something happens that I don’t really know how to react to, I write a song about it and that helps me to understand how I feel. Most of them are sad, because I find it easier to write sad songs (I think a lot of people do!) My main instruments (and the ones I use live) are harp and piano. The live sound is just me but its a bit more lush on the album – I went wild with the vocal harmonies, that was so much fun! There’s a bit of hammond organ and fender rhodes etc on it, and also friends playing bass, violin, trumpet, guitar…
And of course Fergal Lawler, who I recorded it with, played loads and bits of pieces of percussion and things. He also did what we jokingly refer to as ‘field recordings’ – things like rain, wind and sloshing water that went on there too! It took us ages to record, and then Fergal spent ages getting the mixes really perfect. All in all it was about two years in the making. Even though there is more on it than you might expect if you had seen me play live, it is still quite bare and stripped back sounding I suppose…

Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Anything and everything! The experiences within the songs are drawn from my own life, but the various ways of expressing them can come from anywhere. There are obvious references to fairy tales, Greek mythology and literature in there. One of the song titles came from watching Cosmos. Musically, I’m a bit melodramatic and I think that comes from listening to too much opera. I love the spareness of Baroque music, and those crunchy harmonies that resolve in the next bar. I love Schumann.
My heroes as far as songwriting go are probably the same most other songwriters – Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, the early Tori Amos albums. My all-time songwriting hero is Ani DiFranco. She has an amazing way with words and melody. Listening to any really good music drives me and inspires me – although sometimes you just sit and listen and go, I might as well just give up now…

What are you listening to at the moment?

I really like this guy Grey Reverend, I’ve been listening to him a good bit in the last few days. I’m a big fan of the Anais Mitchell folk opera album Hadestown – its a great concept and there is so much on there. I keep going back to For Emma by Bon Ivor – it really is such an amazing album and I keep returning to it. I’m liking Essie Jain too. I’m also having a bit of a Scandanavian moment, Robyn, Lykke Li, Emiliana Torrini, Ane Brun. I’ve also been listening to a bit of Gold Panda and Washed Out.  The Steve Reich festival is on next week so Music for 18 Musicians and Different Rrains to prepare myself 🙂 And the BBC proms are on so lots of classical!

What do you think of the Irish music scene at the moment?

In a strange way, I think recessions are really good for the arts. Yes, there are venues closing because of financial problems etc but its driving other venues to make their tickets a little cheaper, or to try a bit harder to please the punter, which is a good thing for gig goers! Also I think it drives people to get creative, like by having house gigs and DIY venues. I think it creates a sense of everyone being in it together, which is a nice feeling!

Where can people hear/read more about you?

Here’s a link to my fundit campaign page: http://www.fundit.ie/project/s-great-expectations
and here is my bandcamp where there are a couple of tracks up from the album http://simusic1.bandcamp.com/album/great-expectations
and my twitter is @pixiesisi

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