Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa has long been a bastion of nurturing music in Cork City. People like Mick Flannery, Niall Connolly, and Ber Quinn all attended the institution. They’re not one to rest on their laurels though, and so continue to foster the burgeoning musical talent that this country is absolutely awash with.
One such endeavour is the upcoming ‘Song Factory’ gig in the Granary Theatre in Cork on May 23rd. It promises to be a fascinating and unique night where up and coming performers are tasked with performing the songs that their peers have written.
We had a brief chat with Stephen Springall, one of the organisers of this special event, to discuss where the unusual idea came from, what genres people can expect, and the state of the Irish music scene.
Grab your tickets here.
O: The idea to get performers to arrange and perform songs written by their peers is an interesting and unusual one. Where did the idea come from?
Stephen Springall: There are a lot of great songwriters in the class, and we could throw another Cover gig and try to theme it, but why would we do that when we have so much catchy, emotive material at hand? And so many great performers, and people interested in PR and Marketing – it just made sense to create a platform for the songs. But that’s the thing, it’s for each individual section of the industry. If you’re hired as a songwriter, you must often relinquish control of your songs, and that’s exactly what has happened here.
O: Have the songwriters heard the new interpretations of their songs? Or will they hear the new interpretations for the first time on the night?
SS: Most of the songwriters have heard the new versions of the songs, but not everyone! For quite a few of the songs the songwriter will actually be on stage, either playing in the band or backing singing. It’s kind of cool that they have to take a backseat and direction from someone else. Anyway, our Legal team made up a contract saying we can interpret it how we want – just like the real world.
O: Why was the Granary Theatre chosen as the venue for these performances? What will it add to the night?
SS: The mission statement for our production company is that the song is everything. That’s why we decided to do the gig in the first place. So we wanted a venue that would suit this mission statement. An intimate setting where the song would take priority and The Granary matched up perfectly.
O: What range of genres can people expect at the performance?
SS: There’s probably a bit of everything in there. There’s baroque pop songs, jazz, hip hop, country but the thing that unifies the night is that it’s all tied in a radio friendly bow.
O: What is the goal for the evening?
SS: The goal for the evening is to the give the audience the best we have to offer starting from scratch. Our best songs, curated by our teachers – our best interpretations, best people suited for their performance. Just a little microcosm of the whole industry – condensed into an intimate venue, for one night only. Blink and you’ll miss it, but hopefully you’ll hear these songs again on the radio – that’s where we think they should be.
O: I feel the Irish music scene is extremely strong at the moment with artists across all kinds of genres creating interesting and unique music. Do you agree?
SS: Absolutely! You’ve got guys like Young Phantom & Spekulativ Fiktion killing it on the hip hop scene, there’s a huge funk movement happening in Cork City at the moment, bands like Strange Attractor and Quangodelic providing the city with some great nights out. You’ve got folk artists such as Mide Houlihan and Actor Actor who are producing just quality music. This has created a melting pot for new interesting music. I’m hearing metal songs with super funky slap bass lines and hip hop songs with jazz chord progressions. It’s all exciting stuff!
O: What do you think these musicians can do to get their music and voices heard in the midst of the noise of the internet?
SS: I think the key to being heard is to create quality content. If you make quality content and invest in it people will take notice. That’s why we’re running this gig. We’ve hired and arranged the songs for a string trio, all the songs have access to a full band, we’ve hired a videographer to create quality video content. It’s all to create something that people want to see not content you need to force into people’s faces.
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