Prior to catching their gig at Dublin’s Grand Social, Essentially Pop had a chance to chat to Fanlights lead singer Unamae about the band, music, and the Georgian fanlights that give them their name. We hope you enjoy our interview!
Give us the potted Fanlights story. Are you a democracy or does one person do more than the others (and if so what)? How did Fanlights come together?
When I was growing up I was always involved in music and I loved it. For example my first gig was in the National Concert Hall when I was around 8 years of age. I was involved in orchestras, Irish traditional Grupa Ceoils and choirs. By the age of ten I could play piano, violin, viola, mandolin and concertina. I knew as a teenager that I was going to form a band. At around fifteen I started to compose melodies on the piano and then I added lyrics. I met a lot of great musicians whilst studying music in college. I formed the band in the summer of 2013. We played gigs all over Ireland, London and some festivals in 2014 such as Youbloom and Indie week. Some members have come and gone. They have other projects in their lives that they have to focus on. Once in Fanlights your time is very well documented. There is a bit of history behind each member just like behind all the doors which have Georgian fanlights above them in Dublin. Everyone who has been in the band has contributed and that’s really important. I write the songs but everyone has an input…even if that means booking a gig! It is very important to recognise everyone’s efforts. For a band to succeed it’s better if everyone has the same vision.
I listen to a lot of piano based musicians such as Rufus Wainwright, Tori Amos, Tom Waits and Fiona Apple. I suppose the song structures are influenced by those artists. The genre is very pop based. The chorus has catchy lyrics and the theme is usually universal. I love music from all genres so the music is a bit of a mix really. I have a soft spot for 60s psychedelia bands. You can make up your own mind about the genre. I don’t really like to put things in a box. I think its good to keep changing and pushing the envelope for the style. The genre is Fanlights.
Who do you take your inspiration from and would you most like to collaborate with?
I love The Cure’s early records and the songwriter Robert Smith. He started off very alternative with an anti image however as time went on The Cure broke onto the mainstream market in the mid 80s. I say he would be very interesting to work with as he is so prolific and still writes to this day. I would love to take a time capsule back to 1968 and write some songs with Marc Bolan. I am a big fan.
Where’s your favourite place to perform?
The Grand Social, it is where we played our first gig for The Jack Of Diamonds music festival. I like the little tables with the red candles under a tent like canopy. I also think Sweeney’s is a great venue for independent bands. You can always catch a band playing a set there almost every week. I mention the venue Workman’s in a song as well. There is a YouTube video recorded of “Superstar” being performed there in March 2014. That’s a pretty well known music venue in Dublin. I have seen a lot of Irish and International acts perform there.
After a year of playing gigs I decided to get a song recorded properly. I was advised to seek out musician / producer Gavin Glass (The Eskies, Lisa Hannigan and The Hot Sprockets). We recorded the song in Jamestown Studios at Orphan Recordings. It was so interesting because Scott Halliday mixed it and he has a lot of experience working with James Vincent McMorrow and Prince! They were really passionate about their profession. I would highly recommend musicians to work with them. Even just to hang out with Gavin’s Dog Danko. He is a champ. I have not released the single. I want to release it on a four track EP. That should be in the New Year. The single is called “Freeze Time”
What’s a surprising fact your fans might not know about you?
I have a radio show called The Fluffy Noise. It’s every Friday for an hour between 3-4 pm. The studio is based on South Williams Street in Dublin. The Show is part of Radiomade.ie, which is a new Independent station. Every week I play my favourite songs. I also have a band or a musician coming in to perform a few acoustic songs and to talk about their music. The reason I started The Fluffy Noise was because I felt that bands need a platform to promote their music especially in Dublin. I don’t care how many likes the band has on these social networking sites. Its not about popularity with me, its about music.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the music industry?
Focus on your songwriting. A good song always pulls through. Make sure to be more concerned about how tight your band sounds then how popular your name is in the industry. Always rely on yourself. We live in a great time for music. We have the Internet, which allows us to reach a greater audience. Start off with a very DIY approach. If someone in the industry likes what you sound like they may come along and help you. Be more concerned with the quality then the quantity of your songs. Do not compare yourself to others. Be original. That always stands out.
What lies ahead for Fanlights?
At the moment I am focusing on writing new material and to record a 4-track debut EP to launch in the New Year. I think February is the perfect month to release the EP. Also to plan ahead for the summer festivals. The summer season is always the busiest time for any bands to perform. I am really looking forward to it.
Fanlights are: Karl McCrone on guitar, Jacob Fry on drums, Aaron Sturdy on bass, and Unamae Cahill providing vocals. Songs written by Unamae Cahill.
Watch Fanlights in action in this video of them their song, “Superstar”: