January 2004
An interview with Karan Casey

Karan Casey The new album and all the guest musicians...?

I had worked together with Donald Shaw on the previous album, on "The Winds Begin to Sing". So he introduced me to a lot of players in Scotland like Ewen Vernal and James Mackintosh and then also obviously to Dezi Donelly and Mike McGoldrick. So I all that circle of musicians from Donald. I wanted to include them as well as our own, you know: Robbie and Paul and Niall.

Then - I suppose it was just trying to find more modern songs. There's a Billy Bragg-Song and one of Tim O Brien and Darell Scott as well as a song I wrote myself. So I was going to do new folksongs in a way, our new tradition songs. They use the same themes, that are the same songs about love. There is a lot of worker songs on the album, there's the Tim Evans one, which is more about the miscarriage of justice.

So it's the same kind of themes I think as older albums. I think its important for the tradition to keep going and for new voices to get introduced to us. And I think its more vibrant that way if new voices are added. Its kind of today's words or today's take on the world. I think its important for the tradition to keep moving.

Wasn't / Isn't traditional Irish music in the past years stuck on always the same ways of presentation ?

Well, in a way that's a good thing, because they can establish, you know, a strong tradition. I think what's more the problem is that they all do the same thing. I think that's more the problem. There's a formula of a band who plays tunes in a certain way and then the singer comes out and sings songs and pretty much they all do it in the same way. So I think, that needs to be pushed, somebody needs to be trying to push things in a different way. Weather it works or not.
I still think he'll need to do it.

Are Irish musicians a clan, a family like for example breton musicians ?

Karan Casey and Friends at the Cobbler's Irish Pub 2004 (Photo: Peter Brigel) Yeah, its like that. You know everyone…, you know traditional musicians either from the sessions and then from gigs and concerts and festivals. So you pretty much meet everyone at some stage.

As you're talking about Brittany - one of the things I'm looking forward to do, is - Gilles Le Bigot asked me to sing with his group that he wants to work up next summer. I thinks its this summer coming. We met Gilles Le Bigot when we played in support, we played before his band in a festival in Holland. There will be also Julie Murphy, she's a great welsh singer, and himself and some of the lads in the group (as for example Jean-Michel Veillon ???) - yeah… I'm really looking forward.

And also Donald Shaw is putting together a kind of a big - it sounds like a bigger - ensemble in the Celtic Connections Festival, where its Gilles Le Bigot, Michael Macgoldrick, Ewen, I think James Mackintosh, Karen Matheson and Donald - I can't remember who else, but its also with a Scottish childrens' choire from the schools. So it sounds like that's going to be a big thing at the Celtic Connections Festival in January.

So that's two different things to do that I'm looking forward, because it will put me in a different singing style which enjoy.

Other projects coming ?

We're planning to make a DVD of this band and I think, that's going to be in 3 or 4 weeks. That should be out in march. A real live show on different arrangements of the songs and some new songs. Probably about four new songs. We have two already. So we are hoping to have two more.

(interview & photos: W.Rodrian, 2003)

Karan Casey on www.breizh.de:

  • Konzertankündigung 2003 (Biographie)
  • Karan Casey im Cobbler's Irish Pub 2002
  • Karan Casey im Cobbler's Irish Pub 2003
  • Ein Interview mit Karan Casey
  • Karan Casey im Folkfenster bei Radio LORA München 92,4

  • Discography:

    1996: Solas (Shanachie)
    1997: Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers (Shanachie)
    1998: The Words that Remain (Shanachie)


    2000: Seal Maiden


    1997: Songlines
    2001: The Winds Begin to Sing
    2003: Distant Shore