|Brigid Mae Power (Photo credit: Steve Gullick)|
Definitely folk-based, but also leaning towards classical music -even psychedelia-, Head above the water is Brigid Mae Power’s accomplished and ethereal third album, which came out on Fire Records on June 5th.
On this occasion we had a laid-back conversation with Brigid Mae Power.
Definitely folk-based, but also leaning towards classical music -even psychedelia-, Head above the water is your accomplished and ethereal third album. Do you identify yourself as a folk singer and if so, what does it mean to be one nowadays in the UK?
Hmm, not really. I don’t totally identify as a folk singer, but it is something that comes easy to me.
I’m Irish and listened to a lot of traditional Irish music growing up and grew up with a lot of family members singing Irish songs, so it’s in me. But I definitely don’t feel like a straight up folk singer.
I’ve always naturally gravitated towards psychedelic music and art, it really captivated me as a teenager.
So I’m not sure what it means to be a folk singer right now, as I only partially feel like one... There is a great folk scene going on in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England right now, though.
You write lyrics, you compose music, you sing and you are the co-producer of your work. Would you like to elaborate on how this apparently demanding and multifaceted process evolves?
I work very simply. I don’t put myself under any pressure, I like things to evolve when they are ready to. I used to think I was lazy, but now I think I just like to conserve my energy.
I don’t write or play a huge amount, but I will go through phases when I feel like doing so. I usually start off by playing something on the guitar or piano and humming along.
Then I usually have a notebook or lyrics/ writing that I’ve been working on and I see if any of those lyrics fit in with the melodies.
As far as co-producing, I usually work from the negative, as in, ruling out what I don’t like. I like to start off simple and play the song live and then add anything after if I sense or hear something that I feel is missing. Well, that’s how I do it so far anyway!
“I like the city lights instead/Country trees in the night/Their shadows give me a fright”, you write in the opening track, On a city night. Where and why do you feel more at home?
Right now I feel more at home in the country, but anyone who knows me well knows that I change my mind constantly. I’m a mover and it’s hard for me to stay still anywhere longer than a few months.
I start craving a city, then I start craving peace and quiet, the sea. I’m a pain in the ass in that regard and don’t feel at home anywhere!
Since this lockdown, though, I have done pretty well at feeling at home wherever I am, I’m trying to feel more like I am a world citizen rather than bound to one place.
“Of that I have plenty”, you acknowledge in reference to vulnerability in your most musically ambitious song of the album, I was named after you. Have you overcome or perhaps used that vulnerability as an incentive to grow as a person and an artist?
Yes, absolutely. I think at the start of the song I’m saying that line almost cynically, and in a way that I’m frustrated with myself, but by the end of the song I’ve realized that that is the super power itself- vulnerability... the all-round healer in my experience!
I have used it in my life definitely, but not always. I have to consciously work at not being defensive and actually being ok with being vulnerable and opening up with someone but not losing my self entirely. A fine balance of vulnerability and power.
In what ways has maternity contributed to the shaping of your songwriting, singing and general approach to life and humankind?
Well, in a very basic way it has made me care a lot less about stupid stuff that I would’ve before, stuff that would’ve gotten in the way of me writing...
I write what is important to me and focus on what is valuable, because I have such limited time to write now that I am a parent. But that actually has been beneficial to me because beforehand I had too much time and procrastinated...
It has led me to myself, at a much quicker pace.
Your music, masterfully epitomized in the mesmerizing title track, possesses a quiet quality reminiscent of much-loved Vashti Bunyan. It feels like a country river incessantly flowing under a drowsy sun. Are you an equally quiet, “sunny” person?
Hmm, yes, I’d say so maybe. People think I am quiet, but then some people think I’m loud. Depends who you’re talking too!
I definitely love the sun and I feel sunnier and happier and a big personality change when I am in the sun. So maybe I am a sunny person in the sun, miserable person in the rain.
Has this quietness been disrupted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Is this a period of introspection, redefinition of priorities for you?
I think that this pandemic has really redefined my priorities big time. I really felt such a huge calling to be in nature once it started. Being in lockdown in London just made me want to scream.
I actually flew to Ireland to continue lockdown there at my mum’s, to be near the sea. I really felt very claustrophobic. So yes, it did make me realize I need a lot of space and quiet! I am looking a lot at everything in my life pretty deeply right now.
Assuming that your scheduled concerts proceed as planned, what do you most draw from the interaction with the listeners of your music? Is there a vivid audience of folk aficionados these days?
I feel like my crowd is a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s mostly middle aged men who like folk -haha-, maybe after this album it will change. I really feel like the people who come to the shows are very sweet, caring and music lovers.
And finally, which are the first words that come to your mind when you hear about Greece- whether related to art, economy, history or politics?
Hmm, I think of the sun and the so so so so so so so beautiful seas.
I would like to warmly thank Alice Gros from Fire Records for her valuable contribution to the realization of the interview.