Kila’s new album “Suas Sios ” came out last January but its story starts long before they thought about recording it and is still ongoing for the band as they travel across Europe and Ireland bringing their unique take on Irish and World music. I caught up with Colm O Snodaigh a few weeks ago to talk about music, family and Irish culture ahead of their Whelanslive gig tonight.
“Back in 2010 we took a six month break, we got back together and recorded 5/6 live sessions but it just wasn’t the right time”, Colm explains about the gap in their recorded output. And that’s the story behind “Suas Sios”. “It was getting harder and harder to get together, life was taking over, kids were taking over, it was hard to get time to practice and record”, he adds. And then one day it clicked, they were right again at their core and felt the time was right to release “Suas Sios” an album literally documenting the ups and downs of life in the band. And if we had any questions about how the story ends just take one look at the cover. “The cover art is happy, colourful, there’s light and shade, delight and dancing. The cover is reflective of the album and us. It was done by a Dutch artist who we had never met but we came across her, handed her the CD and this is what we got and it’s perfect”, Colm says.
The brothers O Snodaigh and all those who have worked and contributed to Kila have been travelling the world with their brand of Irish/world music. Reinvigorating the tradition with new life. As a result you may expect them to come from a long line of Irish speakers from a remote part of a Gaeltacht. But maybe their actual story is a bit more Irish in itself. When their parents married they decided that they (non Irish speakers themselves) wanted to raise their children as Gaelgoirs so learned the language in order to do this. As a result the brothers met their future bandmates through Gaelscoil and perhaps because of their parents interest in revitalising the language and culture set upon a lifelong journey of sharing that experience with us. If the new album is anything to go by make no assumption that that road has been an easy or yellow bricked one.
“When we started we were a school band. It wasn’t until 96/97 that we started to take it seriously. That’s ten years before we considered really making a living of it. That’s years of the “Back to Work” scheme and it was only in 2001 that we even began to make some money. And even then…”, he trails off. There has been much written of late about the Irish music industry. Colm has some insights on this but because Kila’s path has been different to that of many Irish musicians today he can’t really compare. “We don’t get much air play to talking about the French or English model and putting revenue from advertising back into artist development doesn’t really affect us. But it’s something that should be looked into.”
From that original school band to the adults they’ve become inspiring future musicians where do they find inspiration for their original music? “Everywhere, walking down the street dreaming up lyrics. Then, there’s people like Ger McDonald, who climbed Mount Everest and listening to my own young fella banging on the piano”, Colm says.
And the last thing he listened to? “A friend of ours, Steve Cooney, had a heart attack and I had to drive him to the hospital. Sounds dramatic but he’s ok and he gave me his new live album with Tony McMahon “Scaoil Amach an Pocaide”.
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