Interview: Owen McGarry

by / May 22, 2015

Owen McGarry’s new EP South is released today! Recorded at Sonic Visuals four fresh tracks – ‘Perfect Then’, ‘South’, ‘Secret’ and ‘There With You’ will serve a mixture of rock, indie-pop and electronic notes. The songs were arranged very carefully from acoustic naked sounds of guitar and violin (Katie McGown) to funky brass and rhythmical drums. Owen is an example of a man with many skills who can gather a great energy from fellow musicians. His constant weaving through genres will come as no surprise given that his childhood was spent listening to Pink Floyd and Trance music and his constant collaborations with other artists. He is constantly on the go, brainstorming and creating so it wasn’t a surprise to meet him with his nose stuck into the schedule on his laptop screen. He was putting final touches for the launch of South EP hosted by us (Chordblossom) at Bar With No Name. Supported by Sullivan & Gold and Callum Stewart the night will be a brilliant showcase of Northern Irish talent. It is great to see Owen back on Belfast stage after the long travels around UK and Europe last year.

Hello Owen, great to see you again! It took us over half a year, but we meet on a very special occasion. How’s the form before the gig? Are you nervous?

I’m good, not too nervous. I probably will be nervous on the day, but right now I am focused on getting everything done. I am playing with the band, it’s a different gig than usual; I tour a lot and play on my own, so we only get to play a couple of shows a year as full band.

How exactly does the band work? The last time I saw you, you were performing solo.

I write all the music and then I get the band to play it. You could call me a kind of ‘control freak’, I know exactly how I want everything to sound. I always have it all written out. The band is great, we met through the musical online platform and I couldn’t have done it any other way then to record with a full band.

Hmm, a man of many crafts; you are playing every instrument out there!

When I was in primary school I was learning many different instruments, a little bit of clarinet and saxophone. The violins have always been in my family, but I was very determinate to learn a ‘rock’ instrument so I started on drums, then picked up bass and a bit of piano, it just naturally progressed.

Was recording for “South” a long process with so many sounds going on in your head?

The melody always comes first followed by lyrics, sometimes I would just get yelling noises out of me and the words might come out of these noises. Usually by the time I sit down to write the song I notice that I have accidentally written about half of them! It has been pretty continuous process, since my last EP was out in September and I was already writing for “South”. At the beginning I sat with guitar or piano to arrange the chords. In December and January I was recording new songs in the studio with Andrew Doherty, and then I went to Dublin to mix it with Marc Carolan who is a very talented sound engineer and works with Muse and Snow Patrol, he can do things to sound that are way over my head (laughs).

I’m guessing that you are keeping yourself busy for the summer 2015?

Yes, I have a tour in June around the UK, and then I will head up to Europe in September with Travis Is A Tourist, our previous UK tour worked out really well. We have known each other since school and we are both pretty laid back so it works for us. I will be posting all the dates online soon. I really enjoyed playing in Switzerland, the public and reception there was amazing; I got to play some intimate shows and I noticed that performing in front of smaller audiences is much scarier than big gigs.

How come?

I don’t know, I think it’s weird if you can make an eye contact with every person there, everybody is usually dead silent. As long there is a big noise when you finish the song, then it is good (laughs).

Since you are touring solo, isn’t it difficult to go back to playing acoustic guitar only?

It’s just like re-writing the songs, trying to work out how make certain aspects to work on acoustic guitar.

You just like giving yourself more work!

Yeah, in a way!

You mentioned earlier that you have yoga classes booked for later on, how is that going for you?

It is going good, I really enjoy it so far, it does give that healthy feel, but with my first class our teacher have asked me to do some positions that I never even knew I could do!

We might see some poses on the stage then?

Yeah, I might stuck my head between my knees and try to play guitar (laughs).

That shall be interesting, thank you so much for the chat and good luck with the EP launch!

I am sure that Callum and Sullivan & Gold will deliver a great show, thank you!

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