LAist interview with Mercury Prize Winner Fionn Regan
After reviewing his phenomenal show at Hotel Cafe in August, it was only a matter of time before LAist got to interview Fionn Regan about his current US tour, his stunning debut album The End of History, and what it felt like to win the Mercury Music Prize, which honors the best Irish or British album of the previous year. Not surprisingly, he speaks like his songs - melodic and poetic - and I would have listened to his Irish accent all day if he didn't have another interview to do....
How did you feel about winning the Mercury Prize?
I've said before it felt like I was a housekeeper at a wedding. I stepped into complete chaos- flashingbulbs, image capturers, my eyes were just really stretched wide. I think it shines a certain light on the music, but for me, and for some others the most important thing was that we got nominated. At the time it felt like a box of fireworks went off at the 11th hour. At the end of the day though when you, when I, write songs you just want more people to hear them so this helps that.
How would you describe The End of History ?
I don't know, I would say the songs are evidence of my journeys, the people I've met, what I remember, what I don't want to remember. This record is held together by safety pins - its a slideshow of images held together by safety pins.
You also produced this record, how did you like that process, being a producer?
Well, I didn't have a choice in the matter. I raided piggybanks to make the thing, and I did the cover art myself. It was a lesson in using restrictions to my advantage. I would grab onto a light source, a spark or a flint and just try to multiply it as best I could.
What inspired you to be a musician- was it a show, a record, or was it just in you from the start?
I think an artist feels suffocated unless you don't pursue it. I felt it in me as long as I could remember, its like a pact you make with something thats invisible whether or not people ever find out or hear your work. I can remember being a kid and reaching up to play chords on the piano before my head could reach the keys, and as soon as I could scribble anything I felt the need to write things down.
What is your songwriting process like?
At the moment the lyrics are coming first and then I go fishing for a melody and the music.
What was your favorite live show you've played?
I played in a barn when I was younger, it was one of my first gigs in Ireland. I hitched my way there. There were older ladies there who said they liked my lyrics and then I drank whiskey. It was the first time I remember thinking, I could do this, this is something I might pursue.
What was the first concert you ever went to?
The first concert I remember leaving with my hair standing up on end was Neil Young in Dublin.
What are your thoughts on Los Angeles?
For the non driver it can be quite terrifying, well not really, but I don't drive so it makes it a bit harder to just jump into the city. We've always stayed at the Beverly Laurel right above Swingers. It seems like a very Hunter S Thompson kind of feel so I like it. I want to go to Topanga Canyan one day.
Whats in your ipod right now?
I don't have an ipod. But the last record I was listening to was by an artist named Lord Buckley.
So whats next for you?
Well, we're touring until November 14th with Lucinda Williams.
Whats that like?
Oh, amazing, just a huge honor to play with her. Then I have a month off and we're back in the studio to record the next record.
Fionn Regan returns to Los Angeles to play the Troubadour on Monday, October 8th.
Photos provided by Fionn Regan