Saturday, February 28, 2009

Q&A with: Lisa Hannigan

Irish singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan plays the Mod Club in Toronto tomorrow night (Mar. 1st).  I had the pleasure of speaking with Lisa in anticipation of the show.

Here's our conversation:

T.O. Snob:  First off, thanks for doing this for us.  How is the tour going?
Lisa Hannigan: It’s been great the gigs have been going really well.  Lots of people have been coming which is fantastic.  When you’re playing new places you never know if people are going to turn up but they have.  I’ve been seeing lots of places and eating all the really food.

T.O. Snob: You’re playing the Mod Club here in Toronto tomorrow night.  Will this be your first time playing Toronto?
LH: We actually played Massey Hall with Jason Mraz back in November.  We started in pretty much the best place you could play, which was a bit scary.

T.O. Snob: If someone has never seen your show before what can they expect?
LH: Well we’ve a lot of strange instruments.  We’ve got a harmonium and a stick bass and melodicas and bells and various bits of things that are unusual.  We’ve also got a really good band called The Low Anthem.  Other than that some uncoordinated dancing.

T.O. Snob: Every time I read about you people mention your collaboration with Damien Rice.  I was wondering was there a moment you decided it was time to step out on your own and take the spotlight?
LH: Um, no.  But I’m glad to be here now doing it.  There’s hardly any spotlight but I’m glad to have an album of my own, I‘m really happy with the record.

T.O. Snob: What inspires you to write?
LH: Just stuff that happens around me that’s amusing.  I find people endlessly fascinating and a lot of day-to-day things opposed to world affairs.

T.O. Snob: Speaking of fascinating, your Myspace page states that you are really good at roasting potatoes.  Do you have any secrets?
LH: I do but I would probably have to kill you.  

The trick is I think to boil your potatoes until they’re very nearly done, about 15 minutes.  And then drain them and let them steam dry until they are really dry.  Then put the lid on and shake them a bit so they get a little bashed around the edges.  Then put them into a pan of hot oil or butter or whatever you’re using.   Cook them in the oil until they start to get a little crispy and then lash them in the oven for ½ until they are finished.

T.O. Snob: They sound really good.  I noticed you stitched your album cover yourself.  How long did that take you?
LH: It took about a day, a day and a half per page and then it took my mother a couple of nights to do the knitting.  Then we laid the dice over a week or something.

T.O. Snob: Where did the concept come from?
LH: I just really wanted it to be home made.  I wanted it to be a real thing that I made and just photographed like a book.  I really like the idea of that rather than having a picture Photoshopped knowing it was something that was going to be mass produced so I wanted to keep it as homespun as I could.  That was the reason really.  The concept was my mother’s got this sewing, needle book with pages that you pin the needles into.  I just really liked the look of it.  The soft pictures are so nice I just wanted it to look like a needle book.

T.O. Snob: In North America when people mention music and Ireland people usually think of U2 or maybe Van Morrison or The Pogues.  What does Irish music mean to you?
LH: Well the biggest band for me musically growing up as a teenager and coming up through college was The Frames.  They are a really big Irish band and they were, they are at the head of that scene if you like.  Scene is a terrible word but, the singer-songwriter movement that is happening in Ireland.  So I would associate the Irish music scene with The Frames.  

But there’s always a great culture of music in Ireland, a lot of great electronic music, there’s lots of traditional and indie bands.  Just a lot of great music and a lot of great venues to play.  It’s a culture that’s just really receptive to musicians.  It’s a lot like Canada actually which has a great indie music scene as well.

T.O. Snob: Do you have any guilty musical pleasures?
LH: No, I don’t see any need for guilt in your musical pleasures.  I think maybe if someone put on you know Ghostbusters, the song from that movie.

T.O. Snob: Yeah Ray Parker Jr.
LH: Right Ray Parker Jr that would be a guilty pleasure.  I really like that one.  You put that on in any situation and people will dance.

T.O. Snob: I’ve just got one more question for you.  Is there anything you would like to say to your fans in Toronto before the show tomorrow?
LH: Just that I hope to see you there. We’ll put on a show and we’re really looking forward to it.

Thank you very much Lisa for doing this!

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