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Early Blues Interview
Grainne Duffy,


"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  www.allaccessmagazine.com

"Sings and plays with a maturity way beyond her years.  Wonderful combination of soulful voice and stellar playing".
 - CDbaby

© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.


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 now.  

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 singer? 

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. 

© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.Alan:     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.

© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.

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 For You'

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 about? 

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. 

© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.

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. 

© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.Alan:     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 experience? 

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. 

© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.

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 2011.


© Copyright 2011 Grainne Duffy. All Rights Reserved.


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