In Conversation with Fintan McKahey

Hailing all the way from Cork, Ireland, Fintan McKahey is sharing his unique indie-pop on an international level.  Son of the Stump drummer Rob McKahey and nephew of Cousteau singer Liam McKahey, this young singer-songwriter is about to release a new single on the 17th April called ‘Platinum’.  With singles, EPs and albums from 2016 onward, Fintan is introducing a new sound to his fans (and potential fans).  Here is what he had to say about ‘Platinum’, his career and other stuff.

What can you tell us about your latest track ‘Platinum’?

The song is based around the theme of witchcraft in olden times. Those who dared to question societal structures would have been deemed outcasts, whereas today it is very normal to question everything. This must have created the divide within society and forced those who are thinking outside the box to do so in secret. I guess this, in turn, is what would have created the term “witchcraft”. The entities in control must have feared those who questioned their power and so would have created a stigma to discredit those who dared to practice this alternative way of living. This song was written with these themes in mind, and although there isn’t too much of a narrative, the song is definitely about this (I swear).

I am very happy with the vibe/energy of this song. I have been trying to integrate more electronic elements into my sound recently and I think that this song demonstrates a nice balance of both organic/electronic. Psychedelic music will always be my first love and so this is the music that I want to create. This is certainly the direction I will continue to pursue in the near future.

What was the recording and writing process like?

I remember making the beat a couple of years ago when I was listening to loads of lofi hip-hop. I tried to make a lofi beat with rain sound fx pulsing in the background but wasn’t feeling it for some reason. A couple of years later I found the beat I had begun and seriously liked the vibe. It all came together really fast, which is unusual for me.

I recorded it much the same way that I do all my song – in my home studio in solitude. The whole song was based around this lofi beat and delayed guitar, and I just kept layering spacey keyboard tracks over the top. I got most of the work done over a couple of nights at about 2 a.m with the lights down low and a couple of beers. Everything just seemed to work more or less straight away. When the flow is right there’s no feeling like it. This was probably the most satisfying experience I’ve had in the studio.

Which is more challenging for you – melody or lyrics?

Lyrics 100%. I always write more or less everything else before I write the lyrics. I usually come up with a pretty exact vocal melody, but just sing gibberish to begin with. The lyrics usually get written at the very end in the studio. I even have most parts recorded before I finalise the lyrics. I write in a recording atmosphere recording demo type parts of everything and listening back over and over. It helps me have a more objective opinion of the quality of those parts. My writing process is very strange indeed.

Do you think your songs have a similar theme or do they differ?

Yeah, I definitely think that they share a common undertone for sure. Most of them seem to have some sort of observation of today’s society and cultural differences. Though they are not all directly about that, it is a theme that majorly influences my lyrics. Musically, I think they share a similar vibe.

 

 

I know you come from a family of musicians, but did you always want to be a musician or is it something you “fell into”?

Well, my dad is a musician and so music was always a major part of my life ever since I was a kid. I don’t know if I can think of any specific moment when I decided, I just always had a fascination with music of all kinds.

If you could collaborate with any musician (only living), who would it be?

Matt Corby. The dude is a genius. I’ve always been most fascinated with multi-instrumentalists who do most of the work themselves. This guy demonstrates such rounded musicianship and has been a huge influence on me and my music.

What advice do you have for new bands today?

Don’t lose heart. The music industry is very strange these days. With such an over-saturated market it’s so hard to get heard. There is a ridiculous amount of amazing musicians out there releasing music every single day which makes it nearly impossible to stand out. Just try to remember why you started making music in the first place and don’t get too bogged down on the idea of ‘success’. As long as you like the music that you’re creating, that’s all the matters.

What is one of your worst habits?

I have a bad tendency to leave things ’til the last minute and then panicking about it.

How do you stay motivated?

It’s always a challenge to stay motivated when you’re self-employed, especially when your job is making music. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between work and downtime. The main things that I try to practice regularly to keep motivation levels high are to exercise every day in some capacity, even if it’s only going for a walk. Eating healthily is another major factor in staying on top form.

I also work two days a week in a restaurant which is hell, but these few hours every week of slaving for somebody else helps to remind me how great my real job actually is. I always leave the place really pumped to make waves with my music. Sometimes you just need to see the flip side to give you a sense of how good things are.

What can we expect from Fintan McKahey in the future?

Hard to say much about the future currently given the current state of affairs across the planet. I’ve spent the last year mainly focusing on the live aspect of the sound and not so much in the studio/writing. Recently, plans have changed with all live shows being cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. This quarantine has given me no choice but to get down and dirty in the studio, which is 100% my first love and what I enjoy more than anything.

Luckily, this winter I spent about four months straight building a recording studio in my garden. Quarantine never felt so good. As a result, I’ve just started writing and recording again the last couple of weeks and I can feel a bit of a buzz coming back for the studio. I feel very sure that I will have a hell of a lot more songs coming very soon. When all this COVID-19 situation blows over we will be mainly focusing on touring and promoting the music outside of Ireland.

 

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