photography by Wesley Freeman-Smith
I came across Laura McGarrigle in the backstage of the Paris venue Centre Barbara, where the very charismatic and passionate Alfie Dosoo talked me into hosting the Paprika Session. Over those sessions I realised how gifted Alfie was in bringing the most unusual talents together; I remember walking in while Laura was doing her soundcheck. Stunned by her velvet voice, her full chords and her sense of structure, I kept in touch with her. Today both living in London, I had a chance to sit with this very unique artist and learn more about the what and the how.
Born and raised in Northern Ireland in the small town of Strabane, Laura McGarrigle aka Gaze is Ghost learnt the classical piano as a child. Like many a teenager her songwriting resulted from a need to express her inside world. Because her songwriting is so special to me I wanted to go through with her about her current project but alsowanted to focus on what were her first steps as a songwriter.
When did you start getting into other material than classical music ?
At about 16. I met some musicians and started a band. But I never planned to sing, first of all because that is not what I was doing second of all because I was simply painfully shy. But they did not have a singer so , I was kind of forced into it. But I quickly met this amazing violinist Brigid with whom I started collaborating. The performances, the classical environment and the pop culture somehow mixed in a very natural way for me.
How did you gain confidence at first ? Because we know that it is one of the hardest step to gain confidence and write more than one song .
At the beginning, I had no confidence. I remember listening to my first performance and vowing never to play again! But luckily I was young enough to get pushed into performing again. There is this symbiotic relationship between a performer and its audience, and at the beginning of an artists career this can be particularly important. When I started out I was very surprised to receive the encouragement I did, and it helped me keep going. But with time, as my confidence grew I was able to compose for music’s sake, and not constantly worry if it was good enough. Just write.
What would you say pushes you to write today ?
What do you write about ?
I don’t write the lyrics first, the music comes first. So I don’t necessary write about things. Stravinsky said that music by its nature, is powerless in expressing anything at all. I do feel like that .
But the bitch is lying, he does express a whole lot of things, look at the beginning of the rite of the spring !
Sometimes when I write music, just music, it feels pure. It might be only my own emotions but that is how I feel. I mean when I write songs with words I feel I am writing a diary, it is the cheesiest thing you know. My emotions are too insignificant to be put to music. As we were talking earlier, music does not have to have a function every time, for me it is maybe just an interaction with feelings.
What is the project Gaze as Ghost ?
I guess it encompasses both my composition project and arranging project allowing me to collaborate when I feel like it.
As you have just moved into London, do you hope to find something in particular?
I suppose any viable project and a network where I can express myself as an artist.
What inspires you as an artist ?
Everything. That is why when you ask me what do you write about I find it quiet narrowing, because just any kind of artistic adventure is to try to make sense of life itself. For Becker, the neurotic is someone whose skin is too thin for life- they take everything in and don’t know what to do with it. Maybe the artist also has this problem, only they know how to spit the world back out again. So in the act of creating they stay sane.
How do u feel in the music industry ?
I think it is a tricky beast, I wonder how much space there is for integrity, but then again it is just a mirror of our society.