Album cover by MASER ART.
From Jobim to Gilberto, Eric McGrath shares the story behind the album Little Ripples while on a family holiday in Spain.
It is really amazing to be able to listen to a good album and knowing the process of its creation. I see the recording studio as the place where dreams are made. And album is like a portal to another world and each song tells a story. I think making it is like writing a novel where everything sticks together like in a plot.
Little Ripples is the debut album from Dublin based singer/songwriter Eric McGrath.. I’ve been playing it this whole month .Everyone can hear it upstairs while I do my blogging any time of the day. I tell you, it is so good. During our exchanges, he mentioned he is chuffed with the article I wrote about him here in Expats Post. According to him, he put an awful lot of work into his music so it really is great to read that people are enjoying it. As promised, Eric is back and this time for an interview.
You have this distinctive style of singing. Who taught you that?
I think that listening to other singers has had the biggest influence on my style of singing. I suppose I just stumbled upon my own style by combining all of my heroes’ characteristics and trying to make something new. I am a big fan of Caetano Veloso, he’s probably my favourite singer but I also really like all the crooners like Nat King Cole and some 70s singer songwriters like Don Mclean. I’d strongly recommend checking any of those guys out!
You make odd chord progressions or even choice of chords. I think it says something about your musical influences. Care to expound?
For me, it’s all about the chord progressions when writing my songs. Once I’m happy with the chords, I move on to lyrics and arrangement. It probably comes from being such a huge fan of bossa nova songwriters like Tom Jobim and Joao Gilberto. They have such an ability to make the most unpredictable and complex progressions sound so catchy.
I realized you are also playing other instruments(guitar, bass, violin, piano, banjo, mandolin, ukulele and keyboards). Which side of your family did you get most of your musical upbringing? Mom or dad?
My mom plays the piano to a fairly high standard and she would have always been the main person insisting that I practice as a kid. However, my dad has a wonderful record collection and has always been introducing me to interesting music from around the world. Without the combination of both of their influences I know I wouldn’t have such a strong love of music today.
You mentioned that you really worked hard on each of the songs in Little Ripples.What’s the process of song making for you(writing to recording a track)
As I mentioned earlier, I usually start with a chord progression before moving on to whatever else needs doing. This could happen on whatever instrument I have at hand before I go to my bank of lyrics to see what fits (these lyrics are usually stored on my phone as they generally come to me most when I’m out and about). Once the song feels right I start the recording process which usually begins on my laptop at home before I take the files to my friend’s studio (www.emptyriff.com) where I add all the remaining layers. Then, if the song requires it, we get a great drummer called John Ohle to come in and add some percussion. I am getting quicker and quicker at the whole process, with my album tracks taking almost a month each compared to my latest Christmas tune being written and recorded in under a week.
Are you more of an introvert or extrovert in terms of meeting one of your listeners? Say I spot you walking and I strike up a conversation…are you the type who takes time to talk or do you feel that your private life is separate from your personal persona, so you are not likely to open up to any stranger you meet?
It has only happened a handful of times but whenever I have been approached by people it has been to let me know that they like my music so I’ve welcomed it! So far they have all been very nice so I’d imagine it is just something that I’d judge depending on each particular situation. Unlike being in a band, I am more or less on my own in this game and it is often hard to know whether something I write is actually good or not so I would always welcome anybody’s feedback.
The Christmas track you recorded ‘Til I’m Back Home really sounds good!
“There’s holly in the hall
And the snow starts falling
There’re stockings on the wall
The kids have all had plenty of warning
Cos Santa’s going to call
On a very special Christmas morning
And I can’t wait ‘til I’m back home (home home)
And I can’t wait ‘til I’m back home”
What’s Christmas in Dublin like these days?
I think Christmas is taken more far more seriously in Dublin compared to some other larger cities. I only really came to appreciate this recently having just spent my first Christmas abroad, visiting my sister in Barcelona. I was very surprised to see so many shops and restaurants still buzzing on Christmas day, even fast-food places. Having grown up in Dublin, I expected everywhere would be closed.
Little Ripples is your debut album. How did you know it is time to release an album?
At the time, it was the most obvious goal to aim for but in hindsight I feel it was probably slightly early to have released an album. I am very proud of my album and don’t regret releasing it but I have written quite a few new songs since and I think they would have been nice additions. However, I know that I will always be writing new songs so I suppose that album was a snapshot of my work at that time.
As an artist who released a record this summer, what is it like being in the middle of it all. How is the journey like so far?
I am delighted with how the album has been received. Many times I have turned on the radio to randomly hear one of my songs being played and it’s always a nice surprise! It has opened the doors to playing at venues and festivals that I would never have even considered approaching and it looks like the next few months are going to be pretty busy too. I love being involved in music and I hope to be at it for a long time to come.