Nuala Honan‘s new sound is justifiably turning heads. We’ve been delighted to be right on board with it, offering you a first look at the video for ‘Slow Down’ and a first listen to ‘Head Undone’. On the day of her latest video release for ‘Head Undone’, she gave us her thoughts from lockdown and an insight into her musical mind, with her ‘In Five’ selection of tracks that have made their mark on her:
“I’m finding the covid-19 isolation quite a strange time for creativity. I’m a bit of a scared animal when it comes to my songwriting. I like to start the process completely alone, and as well as sharing my one bed flat with my partner, I’m suddenly aware of all my neighbours being home all the time. I really relate to that Virginia Woolf essay, ‘A Room of One’s Own’ (this isn’t a flashy nod to my love of literature; it is the only Virginia Woolf, or in fact, essay, I have ever read!) in which she talks about the creative state of mind having to be free from inhibitions, and in general, this isolation is pretty inhibiting.
“So this week, we moved some furniture around, fashioned a new curtain and made a nice little space in our bedroom for me to play music, and I started a new song! So I hope that continues, but also trying not to put pressure on myself to write the BEST ALBUM EVER with all this “free time”. I’ve lost all my paid work and community and it doesn’t feel that freeing for me.
“Having said that, I’ve quickly found other ways to be creative, maybe because I’ve been making things that aren’t my professional trade? I’ve started a podcast called Phonin’ with Honan, to stay connected and have a laugh. The podcast is just me calling my friends, lots of them are artists, some are just my mates, and we chat for 15-20 minutes. Making the podcast has really surprised me by helping navigate my feelings and general movement through the pandemic and I’m really grateful to my friends for their generosity.
“I think in normal times, we so naturally bounce ideas and feelings off people around us on a day-to-day basis, and calling friends is filling a bit of that gap. Other people will always reflect a different perspective and it kind of helps remind me I’m human! People have been sending in feedback that it’s been a comforting companion, which is exactly what I hoped for, just like a nice mate sitting in the corner of the room.
“The other project I have started and finished, and it’s unbelievable to me to write this, is a stop motion animation music video!! I collaborated with my friend PJ Wood who is a glorious visual artist, and made a lyric video for my new single ‘Head Undone’. I came up with the initial idea, cut out a million letters and miniature birds, butterflies and instruments, set up my DIY animation station and took all the hundreds of photos, and then PJ fleshed it out with next level animation in post! And of course did the arduous task of matching up all the lyrics to the music!
“It was really fun, it felt kind of low stakes and I enjoyed the meditative calm nature of the long hours. I think it really helped distract me from the weird times for a week. I’m really proud of what we made; it makes me dance around with glee whenever I watch it!
See the video for ‘Head Undone’ here:
“Just before the Covid-19 crisis began, I was in Canyon Sounds recording studio in Bristol recording the rest of my album, and we have been carrying on the mixing process in isolation with Invada Studios. As I write this, it’s just been finished and is being sent off for mastering! I’m struggling to think about life before the pandemic really, all I can think of is how weird and difficult it’s been finishing the album these last few weeks, and how the effects of the pandemic seem to amplify all your feelings about everything. I’ve been experiencing a kind of grief preparing to let go of the album and finally draw a line under it, and I don’t know if I would have felt like that hadn’t it been for these strange times. All I can say is, it’s sounding awesome and I’m really proud of my friends and what we made together and I hope you like it!
“The plan is to release another couple of singles and then the album later in the summer. Festivals and touring would have been part of the plan, but I’m not sure when we’ll get to do that. I just have to continue to find new ways to promote my music from home! I’ve got a few live streams coming up, so maybe see you there!”
Nuala’s ‘In Five’ selection:
You Am I – Heavy Heart
This is the song that made me want to be a songwriter. I always wanted to be a singer from a young age, but things changed dramatically when I heard this song and realised I could try and pen my own sad songs to move people the way music moves me. I listened to this band every day throughout my teenage years. They’re mostly a noisy grunge rock band. Check them out – they’re Australian and amazing. If I had to recommend you one album, it would be Hi Fi Way.
Gillian Welch – Everything Is Free
Growing up, country music was banned in our house. My family despised everything about it, the production and aesthetic, and mostly, I think, the accents. So it took me years to break down the door into country music, and thank God I did. It opened a world of just the best songwriting known to humans! Gillian Welch is a staunch favourite. It’s hard to choose one song, but this one is, like all her songs, really relevant nearly twenty years after its release.
I learned from Gillian about taking my time and the craft of creating a world of harmony with just two people. (Love to my friend Kit Hawes who I played most of her repertoire with for years.)
St Vincent – Prince Johnny
When I first saw St Vincent play live, I went home and bought my first electric guitar! She’s an insane guitarist. I’m hugely inspired by the production on her albums, and the work John Congleton has done with her and Angel Olsen. I find myself trying to dive into each song and hear and understand every strange layer and how it all fits together. I chose this song because the first notes of the chorus are the most satisfying riff ever.
tUnE-yArDs – Real Live Flesh
Tune-yards has been a really influential artist for me in the last decade. This album opened a world of possibility, like oh wow, you can use your voice however the fuck you like! And scream and wail and yodel nonsense if that is what your heart is telling you to do! And when I heard she made it with a dictaphone and the free software Audacity, it made being a producer way more accessible for me. I started to think maybe I could produce my own music instead of waiting around for someone else to do it. It’s raw and primal and some of the most authentic music I’ve ever heard, and it makes me want to search for my own authenticity.
Pom Poko – Follow The Lights
BEST BAND! I love this band SO MUCH. Everything they do on this record is everything I love about music! It’s got crunchy riffs (with a very Dirty Projectors guitar sound), all the best bits of jazz, satisfying time signature and tempo changes, lofty wailing vocals, important messages, and an inimitable fizzy sound of humans having a great time. It helped give me confidence that you could put terrifying noises next to gentle sweet lullabies on the same record.
Featured Image by Paul Blakemore.