"What a powerhouse of
soul and inspiration mixed with desire and passion, Grainne Duffy takes
you to the most inner depths of your soul that others artists wish they
could do with their music..... Grainne Duffy sets the standards for
modern blues and country female vocals. An artist that is true to her
music and not afraid of the hard work and commitment it all involves.
Grainne Duffy is the real deal".
- All Access Magazine
"Sings and plays with a maturity way beyond her
years. Wonderful combination of soulful voice and stellar playing".
Alan: What are your first musical memories
growing up in Castleblayney, Co. Monahan, Ireland?
Grainne: My earliest memories are of my sister
who used to listen to cassette tapes of the Rolling Stones, the
Pretenders and Fleetwood Mac. But I suppose maybe a little bit earlier
than that, when were growing up, my father was into American country
music, so I remember listening to people like Linda Ronstadt, Reba
McIntyre and those kind of American country singers. So that was my
first experience, then my parents had a really good record player and
for Christmas we would always get records - would you believe one of the
records I got as a child was Madonna but I have moved away from that
Alan: Did you come from a musical family -
is there a long musical heritage?
Grainne: My mother was very open to us being
creative although neither of my parents played music - however there was
a piano in house. When I was young we all loved playing in choirs but
when I got a little bit older, in my teens, my sister started a band and
me and my three other sisters were all in the band together. Not my
parents necessarily but my sisters with the creative members of the
house I would say.
Alan: Did you always want to become a
Grainne: Well, I think from the beginning I was
fascinated with music. I started singing and using a guitar and I got
bitten by the bug and I realised that this was the path for me.
Alan: Now you did a music degree at the
National University of Ireland (NUI), Maynooth, how was the experience?
Grainne: That was great, it was a wonderful
experience and it was very much stuff that I had to do and I was glad I
did it. It was based around jazz and blues and classical music. It was a
great foundation; it opened my mind and I learned loads about the
profession. It was during that time that I got topractise with my guitar
and started songwriting, so it was essential for me.
After the degree, you did session work in Italy, Sicily and
France, how did that come about?
Grainne: I played in various bands in Ireland and
we toured around, so I was doing that while I was trying to find what
sort of avenue I was going to go down.
Alan: So what kind of material were you
playing in the early days?
Grainne: In the early days I suppose I was
playing more heavy rock guitar than blues - we were doing Gallaher
covers, that sort of stuff.
Alan: Who were your heroes at that time?
Grainne: I loved Kirsty McCree because I love
women in blues rock bands Then of course Chrissie Hines, people like
that - women fronting male bands. And I loved listening to BB King and
of course Rory Gallagher and Thin Lizzy, being Irish!
Alan: What was it that first attracted you
to the blues?
Grainne: I have to say my first attraction to the
blues had to be people like Peter Green's 'Need Your Love So Bad'.
I really just wanted to hear more and more of his playing and then I got
into 'Albatross' and all the other material he did. I think the
earliest thing was my love for guitar playing and blues by Peter Green
and BB King, just that soft touch they have when they're playing.
Alan: Apart from Peter Green and BB King,
who else influenced you in your music writing in playing?
Grainne: I loved growing up with Carol King's
'Tapestry' album. I just loved all the songs on that, they were so
beautifully crafted. That gave me the inspiration to write songs myself.
I now get influenced by a wide range in terms of songwriting, anybody
from John Merrick and all those new artists, but I still love listening
to Eric Clapton all those great songwriters.
Alan: Looking back on your career so far
what are your fondest memories?
Grainne: I have very fond memories on the road
playing because that's where my heart is. I love playing in front of
live audiences and love being on the road. My fondest memory would have
to be Glastonbury. I did three shows there and it was very special for
me. Then going to the Dark Season Festival in Svalbard, Norway in the
Arctic Circle we played up there with some of the major Norwegian bands,
that was a wonderful experience.
Alan: What's your favourite guitar?
Grainne: Well that's a funny one, as I started
life with a Strat, and I loved it, and I still love the Fender Strat,
but at the moment I'm playing my Gibson Les Paul as I love the warmth
the Gibson has.
Alan: Are there any particular songs that
you play that have special meaning to you?
Grainne: There's one song in particular, Etta
James's 'I'd Rather Go Blind'. That's a very special song because
there's so much emotion and as a redhead it brings out the passion in
me. Whenever I come to that song in my set there's so much passion in it
and I just love the true emotion. There's also one of my own songs from
my first album 'Out Of The Dark' I really like called 'Waiting
Alan: I understand you were recently asked
to appear on the front cover of the Sunday Times Culture magazine,
together with a 2 page article about your music, how did that come
Grainne: That came about when we did the Blues On
The Bay Festival, Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland and I was approached and
asked would I do an interview for them because they wanted to talk to
people who weren't of the 'manufactured X factor culture' and they
wanted to talk to a musician that made it the old-fashioned way -
defiant in doing things 'my way'. So I even got featured on the front
cover, it was great.
Alan: Tell me about the band, their
backgrounds, and when did you get together?
Grainne: Well my band features Paul Sherry on
rhythm guitar, he's been with the band for a long time; he was the first
member I got together with. He and I have both been playing together for
a long time. Paul is my regular guitar player and second lead guitar
player. Then we have Davy Watson the bass player and he's from Belfast.
Paul and I watched him playing in a band one night and we approached him
and asked him would he be interested in doing some gigs with us. That's
how he came into the picture. Then my drummer is Gerry Morgan from
Northern Ireland, We'd known him for quite a while. He had been playing
with another band and we captured the moment and seized the opportunity
to steal him, so he's been playing with us for the last year. Then our
piano player is John McCullough from Belfast. Everybody wants him but we
are lucky enough to have him in the band whenever we can get him. He's
been playing with us for the last three or four years.
Your debut album 'Out of The Dark' was released in 2007
which resulted in 3 days at Glastonbury, tell me a little about it.
Grainne: Yes I ended up doing three shows on the
acoustic stage, which was amazing. When the album first came out we took
it all round Belfast, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland and the
promoter at Glastonbury got to hear about me. He got in touch and came
over to see me from England and after the show he asked me if I would be
interested in opening the show at Glastonbury. It was the first gig of
the first day and we went on stage and it was one of the best memories I
have and halfway through the set were doing 'I would Rather Go Blind'
and everyone got on their feet and the atmosphere was fantastic, an
absolutely amazing experience.
Alan: Tell me about the making of your new
album, what's the title, where was it recorded, are the tracks all
originals and are there any classics done in your style?
Grainne: The new album is called 'Test of
Time' and it's been rather a longer process than my first album
because of being on tour and everybody being committed to different
projects. It became something a labour of love, we started earlier this
year and we have finally got there and all the songs are crafted,
recorded in the studio in Hollywood, Northern Ireland. It was really
great because it was a very natural session and we had a really nice
time putting the songs together. The album is finished and I have been
lucky enough to get in touch with the producer from America Niko Bolas
who works at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles and he's been in touch with
me for the last two years. He wanted to get on board, so he ended up
mixing the album. He's worked with John Mayer and with just about
everybody in the business, so it was great to have his name on board. So
now it's finally there and I'm looking forward to its release.
Alan: When is it being released?
Grainne: It'll be released on Friday, 9th
December at The Spirit Store, Dundalk, Ireland.
Alan: You recently headlined the Tall Ship
Festival Blues Cruise, part of the 'Blues on The Bay Festival',
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland; is it an actual cruise and how was the
Grainne: That's correct. You go out and cruise
around the whole bay and while you're out there and there's two bands
playing for you. We did two sailings in one day, so it's a kind of mini
blues Cruise. It's very interesting and I really enjoyed it.
Alan: In England, at the Burnley Blues Festival
they have a canal barge that goes up and down the canal for an hour with
acoustic music, it's a bit different to a cruise though!
Grainne: That's the kind of stuff but it was a
wee bit longer, about three hours.
Alan: You've toured Norway recently and you
consider it your 'second home', what's the blues scene like in Norway?
Grainne: Norway has been amazing, it's been
really special to me. The audience there are really special, they love
the music, they love the style of music I'm playing and they're really
well set up for festivals and all the clubs help each other out. It's
just a very special place because the landscape hasn't been touched, its
beautiful over there, and the people are so nice. We were asked to go
there for three years. It really has become a 'second home' and we were
lucky enough to go to the most northern settlement in the world which is
in the Arctic circle, although it's an island, it's still part of
Norway. There are more polar bears up there than people!
Alan: As well as Norway you've also played
in Poland, Holland and Belgium, when will you be touring England?
Grainne: We have three dates in November in the
UK. Then, following the album launch in December, we shall be promoting
the album touring Ireland, the UK, and all over Europe.
Alan: We've got the Skegness Rock and Blues
Festival at the end of January.
Grainne: That's right, we're hopefully going to
do that as well.
Alan: Thank you so much Grainne, I really
appreciate your time.
‘Test of Time’
features 11 self penned tracks mixing Grainne's varied
influences of blues, soul and pop music. Recorded in Co
Down, Ireland over the past year, it was mixed in Capitol
Studios in Los Angeles by Niko Bolas. Bolas has worked with
Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Stan Getz, Herbie Hancock, Keith
Richards, John Mayer, Los Lonely Boys and Melissa Etheridge.
The album mastering was carried out by Grammy award winner
Richard Dodd in Nashville. Release date: 9th December
Blues Interviews List
Website, Photos © Copyright 2000-2011 Alan
White. All Rights Reserved.
Text (this page)
All Rights Reserved.
Photos (this page) © Copyright
2011 Grainne Duffy.
All Rights Reserved.
(All used with permission)
For further information please email: