ONE cannot help but fall in love with…
Catherine McGrath’s music. There is something about her voice and the way she performs: the incredibly personal lyrics and sense of warmth and intrigue. I talk to the Northern Ireland-born, London-based artist about her latest track, Never Wanna Fall in Love. It is, in my view, her most immediate and emotional track – I ask where the inspiration for it stems. She talks about her E.P., One, and whether, since its release, she has changed as an artist.
McGrath discusses the possibility of new work and what dates she has in the diary; a recent appearance alongside Picture This (at The Great Escape festival) and the career memories she treasures most.
Hi, Catherine. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m good. Just about to play a show at Under the Bridge in Chelsea - so I’m feeling excited!
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a twenty-year-old Country/Pop singer from Ireland.
I’ve been writing music in London and Nashville and have been putting it online - and playing as many shows as I can in the past few months - and I’d love for you to have a listen!
Never Wanna Fall in Love is your most-recent single. Can you tell me about that song and how it all came together?
It was one of the first songs I wrote when I moved to London.
I can’t fully remember the process but I can remember being so nervous cause I hadn’t done much writing with other people - so I was singing super-quietly.
One, your E.P. released last year, received acclaim and impressive reviews. Was it a surprise seeing such love for it and how would you say you’ve changed as an artist since its release?
I had no idea so many people would listen to it and respond so well. I don’t think I’ve changed: except for, maybe, getting a little more confident on stage etc. But, in terms of my style etc., I’m still very much the same.
Can we expect any new music later this year at all?
I’ve been working really hard on my debut album which is going to be released towards the end of the year - with a single in the autumn.
How do songs come together for you? Do you set time to write or is it a more spontaneous process?
I usually have my songwriting sessions planned ahead, so there’s a studio to work in and I know who I’ll be writing with etc.
But, I come up with song ideas and write lyrics all the time - so I keep them in my phone until the next time I’m in a studio.
Tell me how you got started in music? Did that passion start at childhood or did you get into it a bit later on?
I’ve always loved music: mum always says I used to hum myself to sleep when I was little.
Who were the artists you grew up on and idolised as a youngster?
The music I heard most of was the music my parents played - traditional, Irish music. My dad writes his own songs; so I grew up listening to those, too.
When I turned twelve, I properly started listening to American Country – so, as a teenager, that was what I grew up to.
County Down is your home. What is the music scene like there for a young artist? Is it quite active at the moment?
Where I live specifically is a really small place: there are loads of pubs with live music and everyone loves to play.
I knew to do what I wanted to do: I needed to move to London where there were more opportunities and people to work with.
It’s always so good to go home, though, and be back around the people and music I grew up with.
I know you have recently played The Great Escape and toured with Picture This. What were those experiences like?
So much fun!
Especially the Cork shows with Picture This. There were 5,000 people per show and they were so enthusiastic and amazing.
You have a few tour dates coming up around the U.K. Is there any particular venue you are really excited about?
I was really excited to play British Summertime festival in Hyde Park last weekend – and, also, Harvest Festival in Ireland. I’m hoping it’ll be sunny!
If you had to look back on all your time in music and pick that one special/defining memory; what would that be would you say?
Signing my record deal with Warner Brothers was the craziest moment - that just seemed like something that would never happen.
It’s been amazing having a team of people with me along the way to give me advice and get excited about new music etc. - it definitely made a huge difference.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
If you had to select the three albums that have meant the most to you; which would they be and why?
Taylor Swift - Fearless
It was the first of Taylor’s albums I bought - and I just fell in love and bought them all from then on. I found Country music through Taylor so that introduced me to the kind of music I want to make.
Justin Bieber - My World
When I was thirteen, I was in love with Justin Bieber like every other thirteen-year-old girl, ever. I was listening to Country music but I was also listening to Pop music. Listening to that album just sounds like being thirteen again: it reminds me of some of the best times I had with my best friend.
I love how hearing a song takes you back to certain moments and that’s what hearing the album back now is like for me - so it’s special to me in that way.
Matthew McGrath - Spirit of the Village.
My dad’s always written songs. Growing up around that probably inspired me a lot. I used to try to come up with my own songs and ask him to help me figure out how to play chords on guitar.
His songs are the ones I grew up with and they’re my favourites.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Just to give it everything you can, if you’re able to: just set everything else aside and focus fully on music and see where it goes.
Even if it seems almost impossible; don’t be afraid to do what you really love because you’re scared that it might not work – because, maybe it will.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Rascal Flatts - Life Is a Highway
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