Colm Gavin is a very talented folk singer/songwriter who released his most recent album called A Voice for The Urban Darlings with the Irish Record Label BEO Records in early 2015 and got to number one in the Irish charts. A couple of months ago he performed alongside a host of notable Irish musicians atop the roof of the Apollo House as part of the Home Sweet Home movement and this year he was picked to be the Grand Marshal of the Clondalkin St.Patrick’s Day Parade. In our chat with the musician he told us a bit of how he started his career and his future projects.
Colm, when did you start playing and how did you get into music?
I started studying music when I was 10, I started playing guitar initially and I guess like any singer/songwriter I just wanted to impress a girl. There was a girl in my guitar class and I thought if I could learn to write a song to impress her that is all I needed to do. That’s all I wanted to do initially and 14 years later I am still doing it.
Does it work?
Well it didn’t work at the time (laughs)
What instruments do you play?
I play guitar, piano and the banjo.
How do you classify the type of music that you play?
I love folk music, I love American folk music. People Like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, really early 1960s american music is what I listen to the most. I like all kinds of music, but personally I love folk music, that’s the best way to describe what I play.
What are your music influences?
Bob Dylan is my hero. I have been listening to Bob Dylan since I was about 5 years old, I have always been a huge fan of Bob Dylan, so if my career lives to anything like what Bob Dylan’s done I will be happy.
You started studying music when you were 10 years old. Have you ever taught music?
Actually I am a qualified music teacher as well. I studied to get my teacher’s degree, I graduated from Clondalkin School of Music 2 years ago. I teach piano, guitar and singing.
Wow, can I have some classes?
Tell me about your most recent album.
I released an album called A Voice for The Urban Darlings in early 2015. I released it with the record label BEO Records and got to number one in the Irish charts, that was huge for me, so after that happened a lot of opportunities opened up really quick in the Irish music scene and abroad. So it’s received a lot of airplay on American radio and in England as well.
What’s your inspiration to write your songs?
A lot of my songs are about people that I met, books that I read or circumstances that I heard about but it doesn’t mean I lived through them. I can be inspired by anything, for example this conversation might even inspire something new, we never know.
Are you working on a new album at the moment?
Yeah, I am. My last album was very singer songwriter, it was very folk orientated, and some people said a little bit country, I wouldn’t really agree with that but it was a little bit. At the moment the kind of music I’m making is much more jazz influenced. I’m listening to guys from the deep south. Guys like Gregory Porter from USA, I love his music and Van Morrison. So I’m working on it still and I think once I get closer to that sound then it will be released. The album will be released definitely in 2017.
Do you do anything outside of music that contributes to your musicality?
I have always been interested in spirituality, I have always been fascinated by their gurus in India, people like Paramahansa Yogananda and Sri Yukteswar. Spirituality is a massive contribution to my music.
What new music do you like?
At the moment all I really listen to is people from Ireland. There’s a two-piece girl group called The Carron Sisters, I think they are fascinating. Laura Keane, Lauren Cassidy, Aisling Jarvis, Joey Gavin, Adam Walsh, I love their music.
You have done some acting. Are you an actor as well?
I never trained as an actor but a friend of mine, Jason Brannigan, was directing a film called Shoebox Memories and he said he would love me to be in the movie and I thought he meant it as an extra and he said: no, I want you to be the lead. I was excited, so I did it. The film was released last year, you can get it online.
How was it for you?
It was very difficult because music is my discipline and being an actor is a whole other discipline so it took a lot of practice, the director worked the whole way through it with me, but it was a really enjoyable experience.
How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
The Internet serves a purpose, but that purpose has to change because if you look at streaming services like Spotify, iTunes and things like that, artists really aren’t getting paid for their work like they used to and it’s a shame. But in another way, it’s great for people to find out about new music. I am learning about artists all the time that I never knew about so it’s a double edged sword but I think if it’s going to play a role in the future it has to grow into something different.
You are on Spotify. Is it good for you as an artist?
Spotify is great for people to find out about you for the first time, but it really isn’t a great way to make money in the music industry, the streams barely pay anything. It’s an issue that a lot people have. It’s difficult, specially for younger artists, but it’s just one of the obstacles that you have to face.
Do you want to travel abroad?
Yeah and I have. I have traveled to other counties. I have done a little bit work around Europe and this year I will be going over to Nashville in United States, at the end of the summer. I want to do some work in the UK as well. So this year I’ll be doing more travel than I have ever done before and that’s exciting.
Do you have any upcoming gigs?
At the moment every week has been different, I am more focused on my new album, but if you go over to my music page on Facebook “Colm Gavin Official” you will see that I post regular updates of gigs that I have being doing.
How can people have access to your music?
If you go on to my Facebook page, my soundcloud, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon music.
Interview and photos: Aline Panini