Derry-born actor and singer with a passion that burns bright. From joyful to harrowing and back again in an hour as her true grit gleaned from growing up in a war zone with great parents emerges.
[00:00:00.16] You can make some reference because, well, Bronagh, to tell you about the show, thanks so much for making the time, I really appreciate it and letting me into your home again.
Come on, I love it.
[00:00:09.22] Obviously didn't make too much of a show myself the last time, you're letting me back in, but the show is called 'Born Optimistic'.
[00:00:17.10] And it's all about people's world views and, kind of, how they got there and, you know, it's for me as an optimist, as I get older, trying to hang on to that and trying to find out from other people how they live and how they navigate life and what kind of things they have learnt along the way, no pressure, no, of course.
No, I haven't, but _? interesting time _ ?(that's fucked) _ stay optimistic that's _?
[00:00:38.23] So on the grand scheme of things, on the spectrum of optimism, where do you sit?
In the grand scheme of things I fluctuate between - Are we recoding it?
[00:00:55.13] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I would fluctuate between the guns blazing and then the extremely concerned and I find that when I do have a very concerned (or would) be have a worrying nature, but I do bounce back and when I bounce back it's always bigger, it's always bigger and brighter and I can almost detect the, sort of, hopefully, what I've learned and the wisdom, sort of, sits there like fruit on your shoulder, you go well you went through that, you know that, so, but I tend to always -
[00:01:31.13] What type of fruit is it that it sits on your shoulder?
I don't noticed back (from) under my head, I don't noticed, I suppose it's like your - The fruits of wisdom as it or the, you know, the (pears/pearls?) of wisdom then it's definitely more of a healthy, visual thing in your mind, you kind of go when see things you appreciate things because I really do think in the business that we're in which is so much based on judgement, opportunity, trying to avoid the, sort of, dark side of comparison and comparing yourself to other people, to other successes, to other careers is the fastest road to misery, you know, comparing yourself to other relationships, to people's loves, stuff like that, you know, you really will just sit in the place of cloud so I really try and avoid that when I know that there's definitely cognitive patterns in your life that you can stay within and the rest, sort of, falls ??? so I would, you know, I definitely would be somebody that a lot of people would say '(God), but you're so positive and you're so optimistic' (_ you know), but it takes work and I certainly would have my moments where I'm not and it comes, sort of, crashing because I think the way we work and I think after making music and three albums and, you know, your idea of success, you need to be very, very cautious of it, you know, you need definitely keep a sapphire in your mind as Tom Waits would say, but you have to very much, you know, it's not what you, sort of, it's not really what you make of it, it's how you take it, you know, it's how you actually say ‘Right, I got that punch in the head there and I keep going’, so I'm loving it and it's real, you know, but I would definitely, for my own sanity, for my own happiness, I would definitely work at staying in the optimistic (yep?)
[00:03:28.16] So the outside world gets to see the optimistic Bronagh and then when you need to, kind of, replenish the shackles or collect more notes or gather more notes it feels like that's kind of more private times when you're -
Definitely more private, I mean, I think that comes from actually writing as well, you know, you're not going to write over night, it's experiences in your life that you go through or other people close to you that you've seen so I think coming out of (you know) releasing a record last year again, you know, writing is very isolated experience, it's not something that you can, sort of, sit in a room that I don't do, I mean, definitely (were) but the music, with my band members and the co-writers, but the, sort of, (linear?) and the drama of it, it's a solo, one-woman show, you know, which is not easy either.
[00:04:12.19] And what if you let yourself in for (thou) in terms of going 'I got to be committing my thoughts, my feelings, sharing these things', like, it was something you wanted to do for a long time.
Yeah, and I just, sort of, came to (frushing), you know, it just happened itself, really, I didn't, you know, I think it was - A lot of it, I think, was to do with fitting, you know, all that world of feeling that you're capable of it, feeling that you were good enough to do it, you know, sort of getting to that point where I just couldn't keep it anymore so -
[00:04:42.29] Where did you come from, like, you burst into the world fully formed, 1991, it's like _ Bronagh Gallagher, like, what formed this fabulous creature that burst into our lives and 'The Commitments', like, it's like you just like - I've always been really curious about your childhood and where you grew up and what it was like and what influences formed you and what was around you because, for me, from a distance, I'm like 'Jesus, Derry must have been a magical place!'.
Well, Derry, I mean, I think my parents, you know, obviously are responsible for my optimism and positivity that my mother has always curated in the house her wonderful taste in music, my father's wisdom and his support and has, you know, really let the proper support that you needed, sort of, keep going in this game you're so thank very much the house that we loved then and my parents loved art, you know, they love music, they love art and whatever was coming to the city which was few and far between, you know, I was born in '72, right in the heart of the nasty Troubles then and we grew up, you know, in the Bogside, just on the periphery and, you know, wasn't an easy place to grow up, but then again you don't really know any better when you're there, but so certainly my parents and then anything that was going on, there was a great gallery in Derry, the Orchard Gallery, so we were always taken down to that so you had to start to get a flavour for international art just coming down and obviously political artists coming in, anything (open/up on) dawn and the time, you know, that we had an undressing, I was always going dancing and singing and, you know, pantomime and local productions of stuff and poetry and my parents were great, my mom was a great Heaney, Seamus Heaney, (God of mercy-nem???) and, you know, so that was - So it was definitely that we make (roo/new?) climate going on the house that I knew other people kids didn't because I'd say it was (woo), you know, it was heavy stuff.
[00:06:47.06] And were you aware of that, I mean, obviously your parents would've tried really hard to protect you from it as much as possible.
They did and they protected us for it, they did, they did, I mean, a lot of young people in our street that were heavily involved, you know, didn't know what they're getting involved in, you know, my father and mother were just as hard as they knew it wasn't as wrong as ?? it was and what the British did, we're doing, and then obviously the reaction from the Nationalist communities, you know, but we were very - We knew what was going on, but we were protected.
[00:07:16.01] Where did your parents come from then that they had that in them, like, what was the background going back to before you were born, your parents were these - emerged as these people that they did and how did they find each other?
I'm in a definitely unique, I look back knowing, you know, my mom is a really character and she's wonderful, wonderful person, optimistic person and their bond, the two of them, was they loved music and the 'Borderland' and Derry at the time, the Embassy Ballroom.
[00:07:41.12] Are they both from Derry?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, my dad is from Springtown originally and the camp which was the old American Army camps and then, I mean, they were, you know, proper poverty and then (we aluminium ??) and then my daddy and mommy - Sorry, my daddy's family moved down to the Bogside then like right in the heart of Capel Street and then my mom, they were from Creggan, they were from Creggan, but the Bog originally and then they moved to Creggan, my granddad got a house up there and then they bought the house there, they bought a house, my father was such a hard worker so he bought a house in the seventies which was quite rare, you know, because he just worked.
[00:08:24.27] And I'm just wondering what age did your parents be, have they known each other growing up?
Yeah, I mean, I think they were each others, sort of, one and only loves, really.
[00:08:34.07] Wow, that's amazing.
Yeah, they're amazing, and then they used to go the dances every weekend, they were mad under their style, two mods, major style vibration going on.
[00:08:42.15] And it was a mod thing?
Derry was soul, Derry was a soul town, soul and rockers and, I mean, because of the port that it is, if you find ports for some reason, like the Mersey beat, vibration over there and, you know, Manchester and obviously Derry and Belfast, all by port towns and all by soul records.
[00:09:08.03] And you would have, of course, the US Army base and the US Armed Forces radio and all that stuff coming in.
(It's that) all going, that was all - So my mom worked in a little hairdressing salon in the Creggan and in the salon - She was only fourteen, it was called 'The Vanity Box', they used to get all the American Naval and Army wives so they recommended ??? the salon and they would be giving them American Vogue, Italian Vogue, French Vogue, bringing it up for the gals, can you imagine, and the style would be whooped out of that, my mommy would get a pattern cotton and she'd be whooping out the Oxford bags and my granny would another (wee topper my empty eye) all but the style (herner) mit?], so you know, these would be micro climates on amongst??, amazing.
[00:09:51.24] Oh, my God, the Vogue is just dropping in.
My mommy still had them until they got married and they moved into their house in Derry, my mom had most of the Vogues from would have been the late fifties, sixties then and when they moved down they were, like, my daddy was '???', so she got rid of them, but she still has a stash, (Vogue mad), so, you know, and that's what they did so, obviously, they were pretty cool dudes.
[00:10:17.16] And did your parents stand out in Derry, were they unusual or -
I think they were, you know, when I hear (no) friends, I mean, my mates would say 'Oh, we couldn't wait to see what your mother was going to be rocking (in me)', you know, because she would bring her clothes on a hanger to the dance so it wouldn't get creased in the bus, ???, and they were that very, you know, just very innocent, they didn't drink, they didn't come from that culture, you know, and my father always worked (so as) the really good ??? in the style _ ('Oh, hi!'), they were really good, and they loved dancing so they were two really groovers and still are.
[00:10:45.06] And they never considered leaving Derry?
[00:10:48.22] That was not on the agenda?
No, never. My grandparents did, my mom's parents left when the Troubles were really bad and a lot of people did, but my parents stayed, all stayed put, they weren’t too interested what was going on.
[00:11:07.21] So, you know, I grew up in Ballinasloe -
Which I've been to with you, I did a gig there, it was great.
[00:11:13.05] Which you've been to, yes, I remember that gig you did in ??, Bronagh, that was amazing, oh, my God, that was such a good weekend and thanks so much for doing that.
It was a great weekend, I loved it.
[00:11:21.01] But we, you know, we were so distant from everything that was going on up the north, it may as well have been another country, like, and I'm just trying to picture you - We were both born the same year, 1972, and I'm just trying to wonder what kind of - I'm reminded of that feeling, you know that, I think it was an Italian film 'Life is beautiful' and of the guy and his kid, he's got -
[00:11:44.25] Yeah, and he's got the child in the concentration camp and he's weaving all these stories to explain to him, I mean, did your parents weave stories or where they on the level with you what was going on or, like, what was your awareness growing up?
It's interesting, it wasn't until I was, sort of, really, you know, because I wanted to, sort of, just run away in that sense because it was so heavy what was going on and I was just wanting to act and sing and I just wanted to be on stage and perform and I just wanted to go to drama school in England, that's what I'm _
[00:12:16.27] In what kind of age where you getting into all this at?
Oh, I mean, I was at this since I was five.
[00:12:20.29] Oh, wow.
[00:12:22.17] So there was never any doubt that this -
Oh, I'm doing it, I mean, I wish I had the confidence then that , wish I had the confidence then, no, no, I was (knowing) I'm going to be an actress, my parents was like 'Oh, sweet Mother of the Lord, you need to get you exams', no, but I'll be grand, I'll be grand, and then, I mean, the first year of GCSI I was like, you know, '(a-a)', you know, 'Okay, back in for another round, you didn't (clog) anything up there, bro!', so I had to go back and do the repeats, an audition for six drama schools in England, but I didn't get in into any, because ?? Bog ?? , like, you know 'Hi, how's it going?' in the middle of London and they were like 'Oh, my God, ghastly, go away!' and they were having none of it, but then I got a part in 'Dear Sarah' or no, I got a part with Michael Winterbottom in his first movie, he was just out of drama school, got under the National Youth Theatre, finally got under somewhere, but I was at a summer course, but then Michael Winterbottom did three things with him and then I did a lovely fellow my Frank Cvitanovich about the Guildford Four 'Dear Sarah' and met the Hubbards, lovely Ros and John Hubbard through that and then next year got the 'The Commitments'.
[00:13:24.18] So that's job before - I mean, Bronagh between five and fifteen, like, what was that wee Bronagh like?
School always, I mean, I was doing dancing, all of local pantomimes, always involved in the school stuff, our school had great musical theatre and then when I was about, you know, I suppose sixteen it, kind of, all kicked off which when I was looking at my mates were going to university I wanted to go to drama school and because I didn't get in anywhere, but I got working so.
[00:13:50.16] Because nobody, let's say, you know, every child has dreams, you know, my eldest now all he wants to be is professional soccer player, you know, and the norm for children is that that drops off and that, you know, some version of what we say reality or whatever kicks in, but that didn't happen for you.
No, I mean, I was just extremely lucky, I was working in Derry in local stuff, my lovely friend who had babysat for Margo Harkin who is a local filmmaker who did great film 'Hush-a-Bye Baby', Margo is a great friend, she put my name forward for Michael Winterbottom who was looking for local, young actress and I met my dear friend Dave Woolmart on that project, our old buddy, Dave from Dublin, wonderful actor. So we were all playing - I was playing a child in Donegal and they were playing children from the city, Dublin city, so it was just about the, sort of, conflicts that happen between, you know, rural children and city kids so lovely program, we ??? part for the school, sort of programs during the day on ITV, and then through that then, obviously, met the Hubbards and then got 'The Commitments', you know, so I was really lucky, I mean, the whole 'Commitments' thing was mental because it was like who would have thought, you know, I was the only non-Dub, I was the only one that was, sort of, you know, the long, you know, they took a risk, really, Parker met (at that) themselves the very, sort of, first day, but - So it was a random thing, but I - Because the soul music (that was an?) - Because I knew, you know, a lot about that world at the time and the producers and the singers, you know, I think that that passion, sort of, fuelled it, you know, I just worked myself and the gears just clicked.
[00:15:26.10] Yeah because I didn't know about your parents being so into soul and I didn't know where soul had come into your life as such so the soul goes back to again what was playing from when you were tiny all the way through?
Oh, all the dancing and the, all the Aretha Franklin and the Marvin Gaye and the Al Green.
[00:15:45.00] But when you think of even geographically, like, you know, Derry couldn't really have been further from the action when you were growing up in terms of acting and movies and TV and -
Oh, goodness, ay, because, I mean, there was always that weary, you know, realistic (almont?) of it, my parents would just say 'You know, you really have to be kicking your exams here, (bro), because this is not something that, you know, obviously, there was an innocence to it, but they were, like, you know, the reality of this happening is slim, but they obviously recognized that I had something going on and they encouraged it, you know, but -
[00:16:19.23] What are the conversations you were having with yourself, like, growing up, like, you know, your different dreams and, you know, those conversations would evolve from five to six to seven to eight to nine to ten, like, can you remember what you were, kind of, saying to yourself or what you were psyching yourself into or -
I don't know, I was dying in the local community centre on my own a couple of nights a week with my all-in-one blue leotard and my flash dance headband and I was giving it socks, I was a one-woman rock and roll, likea monster, I mean, I was just like 'This is happening!?'.
[00:16:53.11] By yourself?
Oh, yeah, baby, with Tina Turner banging out in the stereo and all, oh, ay.
[00:16:57.26] I assume you're on the stage.
No, no, I was just in the room in somebody's office, but I would do my work ?? (darn) I off my head, mad as a rat, used to go down there and make up improvisations and dance around and basically that, you know, "This is happening!? This is going down, I'm going all the way here', oh, ay, I was just convinced, Meatloaf, you name it, it was all going down, ay.
[00:17:20.01] And how did the people around you react to this?
I would do the show then for my parents when I go home, okay, it's funny, the show is complete and (blain?) them all up and give them tea and, you know, do the show and they would like, you'd see them going 'Sweet Lord, where did we get her?'
[00:17:34.15] Because I often wonder as a parent, like, where is the line between being really, really encouraging and giving your child realistic expectations?
I think that - I mean, my dad and it was definitely, that was definitely going on, but I think I was just, you know, 'What's going on?' and then I started ballet classes and contemporary dance classes so that was, like, a whole other level, but I think I just got, as I say, extremely lucky because at sixteen I started working professionally so I was kind of (off then?), but then, you know, it's not always like that, you know, as you get older it's tougher and you're not always going to be working all the times so it's a tough, tough game, but they were great days, I just kind of went from one job to the next, yeah, great, you know?
[00:18:11.09] But it's kind of there was no yardstick, I suppose a Dana would probably be the only yardstick of somebody to come out of Derry.
Absolutely, and Phil Coulter, singer, ay, Phil Coulter obviously very successful, so there was Phil, there was Dana and obviously Seamus Heaney and there was few other actors –
[00:18:27.06] So there's a few and, like, would you have, as a child, gone and, you know, ??? Dana for advice or?
No, because I think Dana didn't always love it in Derry, I knew her granny, my mommy did her granny's hair, but no, I didn't really know Dana, I worked with her nieces, actually, who were wonderful singers, Claire and Debbie, we did a lot of pantomime stuff together, they were great singers, all the Browns could sing, they were great singers at family and great performers, but so we all had ballet classes together but, no, I think it was like a rabbit just getting to the hutch, I was so lucky, you know, I mean it was just the right place at the right time and approaching the Hubbards and saying, you know, saying ‘ I could sing for this soul film', you know?
[00:19:04.25] So you'd heard rumours _
Yeah, and they weren't seeing non-Dubliners, they wanted real Dubs, yeah, yeah, yeah, and, I mean, I think when Parker wasn't getting the kind of actors obviously he wanted the (gret???), he wanted the real people of the street, but some people that had performance and musical ability, but not the sort of classic trained actor, you know, I broke them all 'The Commitments', you know, I think he was meeting the, sort of, the young actors, the Brenan or the Abby and the Gaedy, it was just, you know, he wanted, I think, just kids that just had no sculpting at all, you know.
[00:19:39.21] Well you weren't quite that either, you had experience.
I had a couple of films under my belt, ay, but I've no training, you see, except the (school ?), I've had loads of experience, but there was no moulding, so there was no manicured sign to me, there was just this mad wee girl from Derry.
[00:19:55.02] It was such a remarkable group of people assembled for that film, when that film came out I was doing my J1 in San Francisco, I was nineteen, I think, and there was such a buzz on the film because I was Irish in San Francisco, the buzz of 'The Commitments' kind of gave me extra bragging rights, like, I was invited to the press screening because I was Irish in San Francisco, but it’s such a buzz, and did you feel that when you were making it, that this is going to –
It was magic, I mean, every day was just a dream, I think when the music kicked in and I kind of thought 'Well, this is really good looking and ??? (doing) was so brilliant', and you know, I think - I mean, it was just such a one-off thing to do in Ireland, obviously, it was a very unique thing, it was a wonderful experience for us all, lifelong friendships were formed, you know, and then, I think when we heard it was possibly going to America, like 'We're going to America? I've never been to America', then we've realised where there was bit of a buzz about it, and then when we seen it, I can't remember the first time I've seen it, but must have been at screening in Dublin or London, I kind of thought 'Oh, crickey, this is good', you know, and I just worked in it, just worked.
[00:21:05.19] And you toured, you toured as a band then, you did - Did you not do a promo tour or something?
No, I never toured (to be) a band, no, we did three gigs for the each premier, right, New York, LA, Chicago and maybe there was one in London as well and then, obviously, the Dublin gig, but no, I was never part of the band that were on the tour, no.
[00:21:23.10] Where were the gigs so when Jeff Buckley ended up being one of the roadies?
No, he wasn't a roadie, Jeff played guitar in the band, whenever the soul band kicked in at the end of the premiere you had really tight session musicians in the background which you normally would do, like, in a musical, you know, you got people playing those ??? you've got, sort of, the badass dudes, so, I mean, obviously Glen is a very accomplished guitar player at the time, but that is a very particular type of playing, that soul stuff and so Jeff Buckley was the guitar player, Carla Azar was the drummer, Carla then ended up (by?) Jack White and their own band Autolux, and Paul Bushnell who was the???, he played the bass and... with a whole gang of severe brass artists and then we would do the singing so - But Jeff, there was New York, LA, Chicago and they did those three premiers, but then we all became - Me and (Hammond) Glen God of (Mercinem), we all became great buddies and stayed in touch, we would go to New York and I spent a summer in New York with Jeff the year he got 'Pulp Fiction' because Quentin, sort of, kept me hanging around because I kept re-auditioning for the part - Rosanna Arquette's part was the part I was auditioning for originally, but, obviously, the sort of Weinsteins were racking up the movie stars because this thing was taking legs and it was the buzz about this ? 'Pulp Fiction' was really starting the rumble in LA, you know, once they've got Bruce Willis and Harvey Keitel who were the big daddies at the time they could, sort of, filter in the smaller actors like myself so yeah -
[00:22:52.16] Well, and, obviously, Quentin didn't want to let you go, he want -
Oh, he was really, you know, really quick, like, really sweet and, sort of, said 'Look, we have to go with, sort of, bigger names', I was like 'No problem' because I've met them in LA originally and then - The casting people and then I went out to New York to meet Jeff and a gang of friends, they were all working in (Sin-é) and I really - Great friend Kim Topper who was best friends with Jeff, sort of, spent the summer just hanging out in New York and then I met Quentin a couple of times and then towards the end of it he said 'You have to come back to LA because now the Weinsteins want to meet you', so that is how that all came about.
[00:23:29.13] And what is your happiest memory of that era, those early years from 'Commitments' to 'Pulp Fiction', like, what kind of memories really jump out for you at those times, when were you at your happiest?
?? just all extraordinary, I just loved it, I loved the LA, I loved New York, I suppose hanging out in, you know, LA beyond my hilarious, mad, music friends, that was great days and just being part of something that was really special, you know, working with people that you had admired all your life, you know, like, obviously John Travolta and people like that, but this was magical, you don't think of the time, you don't even really appreciate it, you know, you just kind of go from - You know, you're living the dream, aren't you, really?
[00:24:12.00] But you mentioned 'look' earlier there and, surely, you brought more than the look to the table, was there a determination, like, when you look back and you go 'This is what I did right, this is what I did wrong', what are you putting on this side of things you did right that got you from Derry doing your Tina Turner 'Flashdance' routine in the leotard to -
Blue, all in one piece, don't forget it.
[00:24:31.25] All in one piece - To LA, to New York, you know, there was something you did right or something you had, was it a God given gift, was it a talent that was passed on from high, I mean, what was it?
I don't know, I just think - I suppose, as a performer, as a child I loved performing and I think that comes across when I perform, possibly, that I'm really happy up there and people connect it and it is what I love to do, you know, it is where I'm at home, you know, and -
[00:25:01.00] But you never come across as an attention seeker or precautious.
No, I don't feel - Because I think it is about giving it out, I think if you're attention seeking then it is more about your own ego and I think you have to have, you know, I think humility is a very important, you know, depth to have in your life, you know, I think you have to in this game, we're so lucky to do what we do, you know, it is very hard work, you have to take the rough with the smooth, but, you know, I don't think any of us take it for granted, you know, I think when we look around at other friends and successes and people that have had, you know, wonderful successes stuff that is all graft, that was all graft, it doesn't happen overnight, you know, so I think you have to have humility and I think you have to be appreciative of what gifts you have if you do have gifts and that you are right there and people want to see and people are paying their hard-earned money to see you out there doing your best so you better on form and entertain them because, you know, they're paying to see it so that is, kind of, where I come from, it is like a working class kind of thing, you know, and I enjoy the professionalism of it, you know, I enjoy being able to bring out my ??? obviously the best band that I know, the best player and ???, you know, and then, obviously, in your acting work as well, it is the same thing, you know, and sometimes the acting work you don't always get the work you want or there is certain people you'd love to work with, doesn't go that way, you know, you're certainly in this business your(you're) flavour - Your(you're) flavour for a while and then I have noticed, you know, I know those when you can get arrested as well, you know, hence the making music comes unto it, so just through that, sort of, keeping that all balanced, you know, and making it -
[00:26:41.17] But you made a very conscious decision to devote more time and energy and resources to music, you felt like, up to ten years ago or nine, I can't remember the exact date that you were not giving enough to music or that you hadn't done it in the way you wanted to do it.
Yeah, exactly, yeah, I think as I was starting to, sort of, you know, write down songs and make songs and, you know, good, close friend were saying to me, you know, 'You should write, you should record these, you know?', like, two of my best buddies in England, John Reynolds and Brian Eno, they said 'You know, you're a producer, you should be producing music'. So if those dudes are telling you that and I was, kind of, going 'Really?', and the go 'It is the way your mind absorbs it, you know, do you need - You don't need me to help you, you don't need no - Give it a go'. So the first record I did with John and Brian was, you know, involvement as well, I sang and composed strings and stuff and keyboards for it, but then they were saying 'You're on your own here now, everyone is’ so - And that is an incredible honour to hear that from, you know, two very gifted people and a - So it does, so the last two records, you know, Connor Brady and I, obviously, my wingman in the music, we produced them and this one, the last one, 'Gather Your Greatness' so ay, I mean, that, you know, that is my ultimate high, making music, writing music, producing music.
[00:27:55.11] And is there anything in particular that you're trying to instil in people, is there any way you want people, that you hope people will react or walk away from an encounter with you in them, you know, when they listen to one of your albums or see a gig is there a particular way you'd like them to feel, are you even conscious of that?
Ay, you know, a few friends in the last few years said the way, I suppose, music has for me that that song, you know, it just got me through, there was an epiphany moment and something really hard happened and a dear friend of mine had lost their father and there was, you know, very unhappy world around it and she just pointed out one song, one particular line in it that made her focus on her own family, on her own extremely supportive, strong, loving partner and her own family, and children, and she said 'You know, that is the song for me that just gets me through it'. And then another dear friend in London who has lost her husband in the last year in she just said 'You know, please don't ever stop singing, please don't ever stop writing, this is the record that gets me through', like, my first album, you know, which I always sing quite, sort of, you know, it is beautiful, I'm very proud of it, but, you know, it is the least of the ones you kind of think, but people say 'So, that to me is, you know, mix it all, worth it, I'm seeing people at your gigs and people that just are coming back all the time', so of course, that is what music does, you know, it is the music of the soul, it is the language of the soul, the language that communicates us all up and look at the universal bonds you have with people in the music world, but you meet them and there is just that click, you know, and all the wonderful characters you meet there is as a carnival time, you know, because anything goes, you know, and all of wonderful artists that you completely - You constantly rediscover, you know.
[00:29:43.14] Are you shocked by the impact of the - I'd love to hear, even know the lines as well the people told you had the impact, are you shocked by the impact, when you were writing those lines did you ever imagine that it would help people in that way or what you were channelling, could you even give me one of the lines as an example of that somebody said was really helpful?
Yeah, I think the song - My friend that lost her dad was a 'Now when you find that man you hold his healing hands and you have to trust him right from the start, don't let those bad, old days, all those messed up ways stop you loving him', you know, the way you can or whatever. So it was about, basically, refocusing on what she had in her life; there was an immense loss, but there was obviously somebody that adored her right beside her so just focus on that, you know, so she pointed it out, it was really moving, I thought she was really moved, she was really deeply moved after the gig, you know, so moment(s I got) ??? you know, it is - It has its beautiful people and, you know, and obviously the women friends of mine that I've written about and stuff and, you know, women that are on their own and stuff and love hasn't really been a major factor in their life ??_ no, they just really relate to, you know, women, dear friends of mine that I've lost through, you know, partners, young women, you know, but, you know; so definitely it rings a bell with some people, ay, definitely rings a bell with people, I think that is what soul music does, isn't it? You know, you write, you're wide open, you have to wide open and I think I was really struggling with that about two years ago, this time two years ago I was really struggling 'Am I going to go there?', you know, you're up there on the stage and you're quite vulnerable, you know, there you feel people think - you know, you're - That is really cool or whatever, but you're wide open, you know, you're wide open and the older you get, you know, you're more wide open about being vulnerable, standing and singing, but that is what soul - There is a certain - With female soul singers there is always - There is either redemption or there is loss and there is heartbreak or there is 'You did me wrong' kind of a thing, but that is soul language, you know, but there is always the survivor, so that is what I tried to get on this record, you know, the last one.
[00:31:56.09] But the idiom, the parameters of soul is something that you're happy with as well in the sense of and it is really mad to hear you talk about what soul does or whatever, it is like you've kind of gone 'Okay, I can wear this coat, I'm happy to wear this coat, I get it and I'm happy to swim in it.'
Yep, yep, that is what clicks, it is just - It is the music that just grabs me by the heart, just gets me, just grabs me by the heart, ay, and country music, obviously, but country is not as - Country is a lot more 'Ah', you know, because soul chugs, it crunches, it crushes, you know, it is the rhythms along with the voice, you know, the voice, the oldest rhythms that, you know, all the great, great, great old soul, the Philadelphia soul, all the great Motown, you know, but the -
[00:32:43.02] And do you find then that what you sing about ends up getting transmitted into the ether and then people who that connects with then are gathering, like, do you feel that you, kind of, it is like you make your bed or you make your look as in, you know, by talking about certain things you're helping people with those things and do you find that that is -
Ay, I really do think there is a certain therapeutic element to the people, well, people, you know, declare that to me so that is lovely, you know, people declare that to me and they relate to it and, you know, they just do really - the gigs are lovely and the response from people afterwards is always so it is beautiful, you know, I love it, like, that is why we do it in a band are great, you know, I love the boys and how much they enjoy it, you know, when they say it is their favourite gig, you know, which is an honour, like.
[00:33:28.26] But when you talk about formidability I also wonder as well in terms of actors and - It took me a long time to understand what actors do and how they do it and what they put themselves through so, you know, you've got two sides to your working life, actor, singer-songwriter, but in both of them you're putting yourself out there.
You're completely out there, completely 100% out there and it is the line of duty that it takes to get to that place because you might have twenty rejections before you actually get a 'Yes' up to that point, you know, so I have friends, I'm long enough from the game though I have young friends ringing me saying, you know, 'I haven't got a job for two years!' and I'm like 'That is sometimes how it is, unfortunately.'
[00:34:12.26] Two years.
Oh, ay, you know, two years you might and get something, you might and get a 'Yes' and you're putting two or three days work into an audition, you know, I've seen me doing auditions last year where it may be four days learning because I don't learn things easily, it takes me a long time to really learn things off, just keep going over, keep going over, when you're kind of been out of the loop with things, so you might be preparing for four days, so that is four days and then you go, you might have to fly to London, that is your flight, your fare, you cost, you know, going there, do that, spend a night in London, whatever, and then it is a 'No'.
[00:34:49.27] And you have to get all these 'No's' to get a 'Yes', but then you get a 'Yes.
Then you get a 'Yes'.
[00:34:52.23] But then you're getting the 'Yes' and getting the 'Yes' involves, literally - I kind of see actors as always, like, processing other people's emotions.
Big time. And you can, you know, certain people can phone it done and whatever and you’re (certain?) and you go 'Yep, that was phone done', but to me the only way out is through, I'm going come ??? performance and, you know, I've been given great parts over the years where they're meeting, they're emotional, you know, and, you know, you really, you have to get in under that blanket, you know, and do it so I (fangle?) my music that I could get those characters under there as well, you know, certainly there is characters that came from wanting to act as well and that has an act, you know?
[00:35:37.27] But I'm just kind of thinking that, you know, there is a great deal of wisdom accumulated because I think both actors and singer-songwriters you're observing people, you're observing emotions, you're observing stories, so I'd love to know what have you learnt from all these years of extra accumulated wisdom, all this stuff you've put yourself through, I mean, about people, when you look around at people you must - I often wonder sometimes when actors, and what it is like to be in a relationship with an actor because you've, like, you're processing emotions all the time and if you're not minding for a song you're minding for a moment on stage or in front of a camera.
Hard drive, it goes under the hard drive, it really does, that is weird, but it does and it is a very, you know, there is quite a selfishness side of it as well that you need to, like, you're - If you're going under the theatre, you know, your day, you're maintaining your energy, you're keeping the lid on it until your show that night, you know, so ay, it is, it is a very tough - It is a tough life, it is a wonderful life, it is a fantastic life, but very much so, ay, you're going under that zone, ay, and it is night time when you're performing, and you got to just tell the story, that is the greatest piece of advice I was ever given, Simon McBurney, who I worked with for number of years with 'Complicite', 'Théâtre de Complicite', he said your job now is to tell the story and then it is the fine line of leaving your ego at the door when you're on a creative process with people and actually getting the story out there on the stage and not getting - The fine line of not being too self-indulgent either, you know, because actors can be very self-indulgent, you know.
[00:37:14.19] But I think that must go back to your parents because, you know, I don't know how many actors can say they've worked with George Lucas, Quentin Tarantino, been in ‘War Horse’, been in 'The Commitments', 'War Horse', been in 'The Commitments' and still have this incredible humility, you've never struck me as full of yourself.
But you have to be, I mean, I just think it is delusional if you are, you know, I just think it is delusional, I just think it is silly, I think it is rude, you know, get over yourself, you know, and be proud of what you can do and, you know, be respectful of others and I think there is certainly times I've been involved in things that I didn't enjoy and, you know, I find I'm an emotional person like a lot of artists and actors and, you know, I have to really struggle not to, you know, not to be in the good space and be well behaved, you know, because I attach and I approach things with an emotional heart, that is how I (bald?) so it is hard when you're in something that you just don't really respect and it hasn't worked out the way you thought it was going to be, or ??? doesn't come off the page properly or whatever, but a - So a lot of the time, you know, I think you really have to - I just think you have to be really appreciative of how lucky you are and I think that is the key because I know so many bloody good actors and musicians out there that never got breaks, you know, that have got their heart broken by the business in a sense, you know, were let down by people, going on the horrendous record deals at they've debt forever, you know, or lost all on major league parts last minute, you know, weren't looked after properly, didn't have the strength to keep going in the game so now I just think, you know, we're so lucky to do what we do, you've driven to work, you've driven home, you can get paid extremely well compared to what your friends do over years and then sometimes it is really difficult, but I just think, you know, I know myself the good sides and I know the bad sides of it so I think you have to be humble, you know. It is much nicer to be around people with humility than - Because you don't know what other people is going through that you're working with either, you know, you don't know what that person has come, where that person has come from and I have friends that, you know, haven't had much luck and then all of a sudden stuff kicks in and then you're just, like, you see them in that gorgeous magazines and you see them looking gorgeous on the red carpet and you just think 'Little do people know what that person went through', you know, to get there, you know. So it is a tough game, it is a tough business and even - And the music is as equally tough, but - So I think, you know, you should -
[00:39:52.16] Which is tougher, music or acting?
I think the acting because, well, with the music you can form songs, you can get a band together and you can get out there and play.
[00:40:01.11] Do it by yourself -
Do it by yourself
[00:40:02.13] You don't need permission.
Yeah, you know, but with the acting you're judged by a team of people and you're either given the 'Yes' or you're given the 'No' so, I mean, it is very much about other people's deciding that you're the woman for the job or the man for the job, you know?
[00:40:15.06] And when you were talking (there?) about you don't know what people have gone through and what they’re going through today, that applies to wider life in general, you know, you meet people who might do things that might piss you off or whatever, but you don't know what they're bringing to the table and I'm just, kind of, wondering, like, is there - Is there things like that that you've gained from acting that, kind of, helped you navigate real life, if you want to call it that, you know, like things that - Because again I think you process such intensity at such a regular - At regular intervals that isn't part of daily life for a lot of people, so I wonder is there any times you find yourself navigating things or being able to do things or being able to deal with situations in - I don't know what to call it other than real life, I don't know if you had that comparison sits with you, but do you know what I'm trying to say, is there -
Ay and I think it is probably going back to where I came from, but, you know, I think when you grow up and you just see such horrendous cruelty and what human beings are capable of and the - The really, you know, the horrific side of humanity that will we ever, ever learn, will we ever - Not as animals, but animals are, you know, terrifying and wonderful and beautiful and extraordinary and human beings are all that, when I think you see that growing up and you see military and you see reaction to military and you're living in England and you see what has happened there and what the Irish, you know, did there and what the Irish experienced there, you know, you have to be kind, you have to try and be kind because maybe I live in a wee bubble, I mean, I don't - I try not to live in a wee bubble but, you know, you have to make an effort because life is really, really tough and there is such a part of me that is, you know, over the last few years, I think after that Bataclan experience in Paris, then I wrote that song 'Heal Me', the last one on the record, it is about Mother Earth and in the, you know, the genius of the design of planet Earth, the genius of the incomprehensible design of the Solar System and the universe and where and how does this exists and what is - Was it one dude? Come on, you know, what is going on, like, it is mind-blowing, it is mind-blowing, we're made of stars, we are, it is mind-blowing. You know, that surely must humble us, surely if we studied the ocean preservation more, surely if we give our energies to that there are seven new planets just discovered last week behind a star, you know, surely if we thought more about that, that is what will make us humble and not trying to take people's land of them or murder people because of our God and your God and, you know, that God, and we think about - I was having a hysterical laughter last week with few friends, you know, when you think about the giant squid the David Attenborough and the Japanese scientists just discovered in, you know, off the coast of ?? island in Japan, you know, that to me makes you humble, you know, that this is all (going) ?? and I know the giant squid probably eats everything around it, but, you know, when the lions that are extraordinary eat the baby hippos and all of that, but, you know, I just think that makes me think you're part of it, you're honoured to be here, it is a gift to be here so be nice, you know?
[00:44:03.01] And when you - When you're going through life with that ethos and then you see people not acting that way how do you cope?
Well, I tried, obviously, I tried to write about it, in some way maybe that is cathartic, but I definitely would be the person, and always have been, if it was affecting me directly I would tell them, I would say 'This is not cool', or I would avoid them because you can't change people and people are people and they're going the way they are, you know, if you really think you can change them , but sometimes, you know, when I'm in Dublin and I experience people being, you know, obviously, our community has changed very, very quickly and we have much more ethnic community springing up then we ever had, you know, when I experience people voice in racism or stuff like that I just think 'Oh, okay, let's maybe we should talk about the Irish in England in the fifties and sixties and even before that and maybe what they experienced, that just doesn't work, you know, don't be racist', you know, so I would challenge people in - Not on, obviously, an aggressively, but I would just really try and educate people that, you know, don't do that, the people are trying to understand, you know, you don't know where they have been, you don't know what they've come from.
[00:45:27.02] But how did you learn to be direct because a lot of Irish people in particular can't even complain in a restaurant if the food is bad?
Ay, my parents, my mom, Derry woman, they're formidable, you know? They're - Seamus Heaney said to me ‘These are 'indomitable', that's what he said, he wrote me a beautiful letter after I met him and he said 'You're indomitable as only a Derry woman can be'. So we're from that stock because all the men, God bless them, you know, were otherwise engaged so the women kept the stuff together, do you know what I mean? So that is, kind of, where it is from because you don't mess with Derry women as you know, so that is where, I think, it came from because, you know, when the men will be out doing what they were doing, but it was the women that kept it together and I grew up around them women so -
[00:46:14.25] And how does that transplant then, you know, with Irish men and English men or from the rest of Ireland who aren't used to these indomitable women?
???, you're (terrified), I think we genuinely do it because I think you walk into a house and the first thing you kind of say is 'Where is my ma?', you know, the mommy that matriarchal Irish woman, I mean, maybe that is where it is from, I don't know, but, I mean, I definitely think - Definitely people have found me slightly on the, ay, the frightening side, but not, you know, because you just don't take no, you don't take no messing, like, you can't, especially not as a woman in the world of men and not a woman - As a woman in music as well.
[00:46:57.27] Yeah, and, like, so, you know, as a man,
And I fine man, the fine man, ay.
[00:47:07.05] But I, you know, this, like, so it is very difficult for men to talk about feminism, it is very difficult, but what I'm trying to get at is, you know, you were talking earlier about your songs and different messages or advice or soothing, (banning?) emotions that you have for fellow women, you know, you're coming from a background of being a formidable woman so, you know, number one, what advice do you have for womankind and number two, and probably more important, what advice do you have for men, like, what are we getting wrong most often that you could just help us with in a heartbeat?
That is hilarious as ???(bags), well, you know, the 'feminist' word slightly urks me and it always has because to me being a woman is more than enough and, yes, I 100% understand that different creatures that man are, when you're in an environment and I have worked with men very dominant or whatever in a movie, you know, scenarios, few things just not, not cool people, but, again, maybe, maybe the feminist thing is so at the end of my nose that I don't even notice it, but I will not tolerate if my safety is being challenged or under threat, I will not, you know, tolerate rudeness, disrespect, lack of ensemble, you know, I will go straight to the bone of your nose and I will say 'This is not acceptable, I'm here as a professional actor, I'm ready to - I'm prepared to do my job, this is not safe, da-da-da-da-da', I've had to this over the years so, you know, and that is coming from a civil rights background. I think, I think that is the main crux of it so when I hear 'feminist' ?? I kind of go 'Hm, right, well just say to the dude, you know, what is the problem' so - Because I have no problem with that and I will, you know, challenge it head on and I have - Not got in trouble, but I've certainly got myself in the situations, but I knew that I'm, you know, I know what I'm saying is for my own benefit or my safety and not my responsibility, but, usually, the actors around me or whatever, you know, you're dealing with big directors and stuff, it is just being mannered and respectful and I think if you're shouting and screaming and you're losing the run of yourself you will lose you power, so hold your power, and I would say the men, you know, it is - We're different, we're different creatures, obviously, you know, we're from the same species, but we're different creatures, but I think that a lot of the time, you know, the man is the hunter gatherer and men move on for different reasons, you know, than women do and women expect men just to get it all out on the table and emotionally speak the way we do. Men don't, you know, and it is understanding that creature, they, kind of, they replace, you know, in a break-up situation where women ruminate, they vocalise with their friends, they talk about it, so, you know, I just think because the man has the stronger physical sex be really respectful and be really aware of that and, and the whole 'the man' thing, the testosterone, the, you know, the emasculation, you know, get over it, it is cool, do you know, if a woman is strong be proud, it is great to have a strong, strong woman, and for the same, you know, for the women let the man be the man because that is what they need to be, look at wee boys playing football or Gaelic, you know, ??? (wee) boy, you just think 'Jesus, that has a nature, that has blood, that thing has blood', you know, where women are totally, you know, and that never goes, I mean, they say, you know, so I just think it is respect in each other and the ??? who you are and I think everybody is different, but I just think people say 'He doesn't talk, he won't talk.' I said 'Well, they kind of don't', you know, it is hard for them, but a -
[00:51:21.25] And do you see the male and female roles evolving? Are they actually changing or is it just people are getting better at talking about it or do you think there are different roles emerging?
There is definitely different roles emerging and I think, you know, women in politics alone, just look at how strong the woman in that politics are here and, you know, that is changing in every community and, obviously, men are accepting that and women's rights and, you know, women leading the way in a lot of the business, you know, that we see evolving in the companies, it is not strange that you have a CEO, you know, of a company a female, you know, so, I mean, it is definitely in the last 30, 40 years has not moved on massively, ay.
[00:52:09.25] And when you see those successes in the glass ?? been raised, like, and when I mean 'You' I mean you and your friends , are you like 'Yeah, go team result!', like, what - Because for man it is very difficult to talk about this for men because we, like, it is like you don't know how far you can go or, like, you feel as a man that you're not an expert or entitled to have an opinion or not have an opinion and I - You tend this result to avoid talking about it full stop, you know?
Ay, I mean, I can't sit here and say, you know, people haven't had a - Haven't had personal issues with it or horrendous treatment in their workplace and bullying and the whole ?? and sexism and all of that, but, I mean, again I think it comes down to the individual and how you respond it, but, I mean, ay, you know, a lot of men just don't like to be emasculated and that is, I think, that is why they probably find it difficult to talk about it, you know, are strong women that are in that world and that are possibly are emasculating them, I think it is having somebody with the wisdom to go 'Right, this makes me, kind of, uncomfortable, but I have to go with because she is in charge or whatever', you know, but I don't mind men talking, but it - I mean, I don't, you know, I just, when I see young women doing really well I just think it is great for women, you know, in certain departments, but, I mean, it is great for anybody so I suppose I just see people as kind of neutral and I tend to avoid, you know, people that are uncool or that are over dominant.
[00:53:46.13] The soul idiom though in some ways feels like it harkens back to a time when life was simpler.
[00:53:56.12] You feel that?
Yeah, ay, yeah, but life was simpler because I suppose the man dominated and you look at the domination and the man -
[00:54:07.23] So simpler for men?
Maybe, ay, maybe, when you look at some cultures and where women, come on, you know, that still it is horrendous the treatment of them or whatever you want to call it, religion or what at, just it is barbaric, like, but, you know, I think for us as Irish women, you know, we are notably strong and, you know, and fair playing, God bless all the waking the feminist and all the woman that do that, I think it is great because they've had individual experiences of it where I just (can I go can I/community talk to?), do you know, so that -
[00:54:40.26] But you've always been - You may not feel this, but I think you've always been at the centre of your own destiny or pretty close to it, you know, now you're saying acting roles, you're waiting for the 'Yes' or 'No', but, again, back to that leotard and the rehearsal hall, like, you've been, like, completely driving and pushing and I'm really curious to learn more about - A couple of years back you were spending a little bit more time in Derry and you were doing - Would you call that 'educational work', you were doing community work -
Well, when the City of Culture was (a bed?), you know, there in Derry and they were hopefully going to get it which they, obviously, did, you know, that is post-conflict, you know, gold here, are we’re going to get under these communities and, you know, are we going to see the potential now that we have to create this for two years and get the art and get the music and get the poetry and get the literature out there, you know, our culture, what people have to say, you know, there is a lot of people have something to say so I kind of went back and, obviously, my grandmother was in early stages of Alzheimer's as well and my mom was the sole carer really and it was a big, massive as people know it so it is a terrible, the long goodbye so I went home and helped my mom and I was out in America looking for work, didn't get much work at all and I just thought 'Right, now is the time to go home, I've been away since I was sixteen'. So I went back to Derry and got stuck in the City of Culture, sort of, excavation and set up a group of creative types, the creative village, and it was like a support group and a, sort of, dating agency for creative types which was brilliant and a lot of great stuff came from that and then looked after granny and supported my mom and she is still going, she is 93 this year, yeah.
[00:56:30.29] And what was that time back in Derry like for you?
I loved it, you know, it was really interesting and, you know, I think the City of Culture, sort of, came and went, it was like the circus, sort of, left town, but I think good things did evolve out of it in the sort of, you know, communities and, obviously, cross-community stuff is very important to me and unifying the community that is there, you know, so a lot of good stuff come out of that, but, you know, it is all about individuals, it isn't all about people and people (that are ???) just keep pumping at their, you know, their dream and stuff, but it was wonderful to get home, I love Derry, Derry is so special, you know, people love you there and they are so supportive, you know, and it is a very special place and it is so beautiful, you know, the city never looked better, you know, it is great and there is good stuff happening, you know?
[00:57:18.13] But I remember you organised a 'We Prayed' and everything, you're - Tell me about some praying you did, what was that about?
I organised a creative village group, we did - We had, like, a little, tiny ??? on the Saturday that Gay Pride was also going down, the first Gay Pride in Derry which was one of the most moving visuals I've ever seen because Bernadette Devlin and Eamonn McCann led the parade like they did with the People's Democracy because this is a human rights issue and for Derry, you know, I have a lot of people in Derry, friends that are gay and growing up in the, sort of, the theatre acting world and these people you knew they were gay, they knew they were gay at the young age and not good and they had to get out of the town, you know, you know, Dublin is very different, Dublin was always a lot more radical, you know, and a lot more like anything kind of went, you know, when I first came down here and it was like (1718) hanging out in the (coffee end?) and all that and you could be gay, no problem, you know, but obviously, it was tough for Irish people, but to see that march and gigs were going on, you know, wee bands from, like, thirteen year olds gigging, doing out there rock and roll bit and there are, you know, what they call them, (cribo/greebo) band or something - Emo, emo bands, ay, it was great and then up to local bands that are ever established, they all played, my band played, Paul (Kersey), a great friend of mine there so, you know, it was a really brilliant day and then at the end of the day the Gay Pride came down the Shipquay Street so that was incredible and then Bernadette spoke and Eamonn spoke about human rights and we all went off and had pints, it is great, yeah.
[00:58:59.28] It’s brilliant.
Yeah, it was magic, yeah.
[00:59:02.02] It sounds amazing, and do you think it is, kind of, interesting, I don't know who told me, Jim Carroll, he was up for the City of Culture and Jim was saying that, you know, Martin McGuinness is, like, he was in the hotel and he met Martin in the lobby and the hotel staff saw him talking to Martin and from that moment on every single person in Derry treated him like he - Like, Jim, treated Jim like he was royalty -
Jim from the Times (here) the -
[00:59:28.27] Yeah, because -
He actually did a, we did a Q&A up there -
[00:59:32.10] Because he knew Martin McGuinness all of a sudden he was, like, elevated, he could feel his status in Derry rising because he had been seen talking to Martin McGuinness in public and now I think that, you know, Martin, he has had to pull back from politics and all that stuff, you know, it feels like the end of an era and I just wonder do you feel now that Derry is in a new place, like, do you feel it is okay, we can close Pandora's box now?
I really hope so, I mean, I really, I really hope so because I think people look back and they think, you know, 3.500 people, you know, died, maybe more actually, in the streets of Northern Ireland, Irish people, British people, innocent, innocent, innocent people, British soldiers, Irish, you know, soldiers, children, like, Jesus, you know, for what? For what? And I just think now again human beings and you just, you know, you appeal, but it is very, very difficult when people don't want to communicate and that has been the loggerhead, you know, the brick wall that (Stormont?) have faced, you know, and it is because you -
[01:00:58.14] Still there?
Oh, God, ay, I mean, look what happened in the (Stormont), you know, you just think, but when you're side of your - When your family is being directly affected by one military group, you know, it is very difficult for people to move on, but you just urge people that are on political power and on political positions - Don't even know how powerful they are, but they're in positions, to try and move on for the benefit of the people, you know, and you have coming up, but it has changed and my niece and nephew love coming to Derry, they are from Belfast because, you know, there is no, there is no real obvious tribalism in Derry, you know, certain small sections of the Loyalist and Protestant communities in the Waterside and stuff where they - And, obviously, ??? and, you know, where they celebrate their culture with their - The painted pavements and stuff like that and it is still is obvious in the Republican communities, but they don't really see that so when you're driving through Belfast it is everywhere, you know, but - And they love that, that it is not - That they don't really have a sectarian problem in Derry, you know?
[01:02:01.08] And is it something you think about ?? I'm really curious about as you're, as you're growing older at what stage was it something that you, kind of, were forced to think about?
You think about it all the time, you know, and hear about God love, you know, young PSNA guys, you know, coming out and having to check your car and stuff like that, you know, you hear about it and you just 'Poof', smacks you in the head again, you know, you come back - Like, I spoke at a lunch last year of a book that was curated by a good friend of mine and through the Quaker Peace and Reconciliation funding Quakers are, obviously, extremely supportive of that and local press in Derry, the (Gael_?) press curated a book through this wonderful young journalist Jillian and it is about hidden voices and it was all the women in the North that were prepared to speak about the loss of their loved one through part of military and British Army murder so you had people there that lost their husbands, people that had lost their children, people that had lost their brothers, their fathers, so you had women there, some of them incognito, police officer's wives, you had people there from all areas of the community, all sections of community, and I was the, sort of MC for the night. And I was so moved because these were innocent people that lost their fathers, their husbands, their partners, their children, they spoke - They weren't political people, but these people's lives had been shattered by politics and they spoke about the piece that they had written, some of them could hardly speak, some of them were extremely strong and stoic and spoke about it and their children were there and it was such, you know, a moving, very traumatic, Donal, it was pure war, you know, it was the purest drop of what war is and it was horrifying and it was incredible then to see the two women, one who's husband was shot point blank in the face because he was a Catholic man and he served food to RUC men and he was shot by the loyalist paramilitaries so they couldn't, obviously, even have an open coffin, blew the man's head off. And then this other lovely woman form the Waterside who's brother was very viciously murdered by the IRA, and these two women bonded in a friendship over the three weeks of the press coming up to and they've sat there holding each other's hands and you're just going 'Wow, Jesus Christ'. I've came back here the next day and I've seen the front newspaper of the Irish Times and it was (young _??) one of continuity or the?? guys (that is) their brother and they were all there decked out in the gear and the (truckler?) and the coffin and I thought 'Lads, what is he doing? What is he doing? The war is over, come on up to Derry and meet these women, stop it', you know, and it was so futile it just seemed and these are the people's children and (God of mercynem?), but it was so moving, and for days I've felt it was great honour to be doing that how'd I sing with the local choir, it was an honour, but I came back here and I couldn't move for three days, it was if something came through me, like some, you know, I just thought 'This is Palestine, this is Israel, this is Chile, this is Vietnam, this is ?? and this is not good, you know, look at this, for what?', and there was people there from all of the communities that you knew, you were thinking 'Hard to be moved forward' and that was their job, now how do we (deal?), you know, how do we dismantle these young men and women now that they think that they have to keep going because we've created it and that is war. How do we deconstruct it, you know, decommission it, how do we decommission this whole thing? And I'm just seeing those women, you know, now where they were, they just went off under the night with their songs and their children and you're just there, like, it was so - I just couldn't, I was trying to keep it together, you think about it and the book is extraordinary, you know, but the - So thank when you grow up in that environment you just, kind of, go 'You have to be good to people because our default as war or default as cruelty', you know?
[01:06:52.22] And that is the main way were you come from hasn't formed who you are, that is you reaction to it.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, 100%, because you see it, you see people -
[01:07:04.10] But you must find - Like, so your parents protected you and shielded you and good is your reaction, but this all around you and your friends and yet you're still this happy side, it is such a resilience and what I'm trying to figure it is in some way I feel it is really unfair that you're from Derry so you have to talk about this stuff or I'm asking you about this stuff, do you feel that is unfair or do you feel it is giving you things that you wouldn't have had otherwise or -
Oh, I mean, informs you, doesn't it, you just ?? it all the people that died and die versus all the, you know, the horror of colonialism didn't exist, you know, but it did and, you know, the heart of where I come from I always feel as Bloody Sunday. But look what that did achieve and look as a beacon of democracy and the beacon of pure democracy that day existed, that is the day I felt 'This is what democracy feels like', because otherwise it is only a fleeting second of people's lives, but for the rest of the world those families got an apology and that was something that was, you know, massive in the world, it was massive, I've had friends ringing me from all over the world that night to my mommy and daddy's house so I was in Derry, but then you're looking at all the other communities that have never got justice, all the poor people that died in the Loyalist Protestant communities that never got justice, horrific bombs that blew their towns apart and look at (Uma?), sweet, dear Lord, you know, look at all the beautiful, innocent people that died and all the young soldiers that arrived in Derry and went 'What is going on here?', they were from the same communities in north of England and Wales and poverty stricken British communities, but they were fodder for army, you know all that, the governments just don't care, look what is happening so it does for me and, hopefully, it makes you a better person, you know, because it is such a - It is such an extraordinary design, I just can't understand why we can't get it right, you know, since the - Since the existence of human beings war is part of humanity, unfortunately, and we will cease - Will we ever cease to try and control or the greed, you know, and that to me, you have to love your life, not like a happy, but you have to love your life as a humanitarian.
[01:09:21.17] But if war has a gender is it male?
Well, you know, yeah.
[01:09:38.07] There is no two ways about it really, is there?
Well, I mean, I know a lot of women that are, you know, that were involved in the war and it just depends on who you are, but, I mean, it is certainly men in and the (White House?), you know, and now there is a female British prime minister, but, you know, it is the - You know, they are few and far between, but these are figure heads, let's face it, they're figure heads for old, established, you know, colonial mindsets which usually do all the damage, you know?
[01:10:14.12] I'm just thinking back, you know, you're born the year of Bloody Sunday and you'd been so into the opposite art, enjoyment, creativity, you must have brought your friends, your neighbours, your family so much joy growing up.
Ay, ?? do, people are very proud and as I am of them, ay.
[01:10:34.23] But you must have been such a distraction for people as well?
Ay, ay, maybe, ay, yeah, sometimes you definitely feel it in people, I mean, you can't, you know, you can't pass people in the street, but my mom is such a popular person in the - Both of my parents are in the town and they meet people so when you go out with them you're meeting people all the time so we would definitely be, you know, people sending their congratulations or love or whatever so ay, you have to acknowledge it and you have to be, you know, proud of them being proud, you know, so I'm very much so - And I am very proud of being from there and very proud of the work that I've done there as well myself and the work that I've done about the North, you know, it is very important to hear the voice of both communities and if I have a chance to do that I will work within, you know, the Loyalist communities and stuff like that if I'm, like, welcomed which I have been and it is very, very tough for them, you know, very, very tough for them, they're quite isolated still, you know, so that is very important to me, yeah.
[01:11:29.28] It is - I mean, a great privilege to get this level of insight from you on something that, if we were to believe the media, is all done and dusted, you know, it is still very much alive issue.
The North, the Troubles?
[01:11:49.11] Yeah, well, the Derry -
Yeah, yeah, the equality, it is going to come down to equality and it is going to come down to the DUP accepting Sinn Féin as their, you know, the two tribes represented, you know, and sharing the government and, unfortunately, that hasn't come to fruition and, unfortunately, until that does the younger generations are going to suffer and the work is going to suffer and rural parts of the North are going to suffer, Belfast is a very, very affluent, cool city, there is, you know, great work there, there is great investment coming in, but areas like Derry are still suffering, you know, there is no proper motorway, you know, they're still, you know, very, very bad on employment, you know, we need a proper, proper university overhaul, you know, and until that is, sort of, healed and Belfast is still going to take, it is going take future generations, you know?
[01:12:47.02] It is a long way to go.
It is a long way to go, unfortunately.
[01:12:48.26] And where do you see yourself living in 20 years time, 25 years time, Bronagh in coming into her seventies, where do you -
Mother of God, when you put it that way, I'd actually loved living in New York, ay, because I spent about a time there last year and I think it is a wonderful city for when you're getting a bit older, ay, I wouldn't mind doing the New York thing, I mean, I love being in Dublin and I love being in London and I'm there, kind of, you know, fifty- fifty, but I would definitely would love the - Do the New York thing or maybe a nice little - A little spot in Italy, but right now, it is back to the graft.
[01:13:25.09] Do you think about the future much?
I do, ay, I do, but I try and stay in the present with my yoga and meditation and - But I do think about the future, I think about my parents, I think about my family, think about my nieces and nephews and I think about work I do, you know, I would have a, you know, considerable days of where I would worry about it, something like that, but I try not to, just try and stay in the present and really try and focus on what is going on daily -
[01:13:56.12] Have yoga and meditation brought you a lot, like -
Ay, big time, ay.
[01:13:59.17] A lot?
Meditation especially, especially when things are tough and, you know, you're not working and you're confidence is dying or whatever, meditation just keeps you in the present and stops the fear becoming the big - The big, ?? band in your brain, you know.
[01:14:13.06] And what bit of meditation do you do and how did you get into it, like, what is the - I know there is lots of different types.
Well, thgough yoga, you know, obviously, you do meditative, you know, an hour and a half of your quiet and you're listening to sometimes a mantra, sometimes music, whatever, but just through reading about Buddhism and stuff like that would have came from it and different, you know, (Shefra?) and different Hindu gods and stuff like that, I would start to go to love that language and I love, I love the (Tall?) Text philosophies here, like, sort of Mexican Buddhists, Don Miguel Ruiz, I like him, reading his stuff, I like reading about the ?? I think he is got some, you know, good ways to calm your mind and, you know, just good writers about the mental health side of life, you know, I love reading all that stuff, like, it is really important, especially when you come from a place that was tough, you know, that was hard, but you really can feel tragedy in your heart, you know, so definitely through that and just keeps you calm.
[01:15:13.26] It is brilliant, that is great advice there, I hope I haven't brought you on a downer now.
Not at all, I loved it.
[01:15:22.26] Yeah, because it is, like, I mean, for me one of the things I love - I mean, interviewing is my favourite thing, I really, really love it, but, you know, you really get to go places and ask questions that normal conversation doesn't really allow you to do.
Ay, exactly ay, very much, so ay, no, I love it, no, it is great, and I, kind of, it bookmarks where you're at, doesn't it, you, kind of, go 'No, it is alright actually', yeah, bookmarks where you're at in your own life, I think it is good, I think it is good to talk, no, because I feel really, obviously, last year is over, it was a very challenging year for a lot of people and I feel this year now I've really moved under it, you know, I'm not carrying around ups and downs and the pressure of releasing a record and all that, I really feel okay, I'm, sort of on the ice now, you know, walking off on the land, you know, yeah, feel good now, it is good to talk, it is good to talk.
[01:16:14.11] Well, thanks a million and for your time and I just wish - I wish that - I'm glad it is not television, I'm glad it is audio, but I wish people could see the majesty of the chair you're sitting in, I bet you that chair has got a story.
It is not the most beautiful chair, that is my rocking chair, my mom and dad found this beautiful artist from Dublin, I think, Leo made it, Leo ?, and I got it inscribed there, it says 'Rock and roll according to Bronagh, 1994', they weren't looking for it because it is a rocking chair, I thought 'Rock and roll', they bought a mirror and they were looking at the mirror and then they’ve seen this, ay, it is really beautiful and it has a beautiful engraving, look at this.
[01:16:52.19] Oh, wow.
Yeah, it is cool, isn't it.
[01:16:54.24] I can't think of anything better to have engraved on a rocking chair other than 'Rock and roll', Bronagh -
'Rock and roll', I know, that is my chair.
[01:17:00.02] Bronagh Gallagher, thank you, thank you so much.
My pleasure, so good to see you, thank you.
[01:17:04.24] Legend, that is brilliant, and now people are going to be imagining 'I wonder what that -'