Gary Hannon DJs a music show on AtlanticRadio.ie. He plays with the Clonakilty Jazz Collective every Monday night in the Emmet Hotel and once per month on Sunday afternoons in De Barra’s, both in Clonakilty.
Have you ever thought that you’d love to record your own album? I know many of us in West Cork have dreamed of it. Less have started the process. Less still have completed it, and even less are proud of the results. Lauren Guillery is proud of her first album, Disaster in La La Land: “I think it’s a really good album! I suppose I’m being biased, but…” (She’s not being biased – it’s a great album!) I interviewed her because she did it all on her own. So what does it take?
Lauren (real name Laurence) is from northern France—in the French Flanders region, near the Belgian border, and has been living in Ireland since 2000. She now lives on a small farm in Lislevane on the Seven Heads. What does she like about living in West Cork? “The community is great. It’s quite surprising how vibrant it is!”
When did she start playing music? “Since I was a kid. I took drum lessons when I was 13 or 14; I taught myself guitar and keyboards. I started writing songs in 2005. Early influences were Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, then Nirvana, L7… I loved Mudhoney.”
“I first dreamt of recording an album about ten years ago. I started recording in 2013. I recorded it on two occasions with two separate rhythm sections. I finished the album in May 2018. I released the lead single ‘Love This Life.’ In fact this album has a potential eight singles, as the songs are quite catchy. The next single, ‘Get Out Of My Face’ is set for release with a music video in early August.”
What’s next? “The next step for me is to try and get people to hear the album, which I’m finding quite challenging. I need people to review it. It’s kind of tedious because it’s a lot of marketing, which is really not creative. But it has to be done if I want radios to play it.”
Her hopes for the album? “I know it’s sad to say, but I spent so much money that I would love to make some kind of financial return on the album so that I’m able to record a second one. I want to play the odd gig, play festivals, with good audiences. I want my audience to grow. I want to record music until I’m well into my 70s [laughs]. It would be amazing to get a publishing deal.”
“I think it would be a shame for the album to become a ‘Disaster’ because I think it’s a really good album. I just need the right people to hear it. That’s the thing really—to get the break to get played on radio stations. I’m getting some airplay at the moment, but of all the e-mails I sent I got maybe 2 percent responses! I spent all my on my money on the record… I don’t have a PR company behind me, and it’s all about marketing… it’s difficult. But I’ll keep pushing.”
What advice would she give to solo artists hoping to record their own album? “Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Never compromise your music—that’s the most important thing. Be honest and upfront with your musicians. If you really want to be a solo artist under your own name, then you are the musical/creative director and what you’re saying goes. Have a clear vision and just stick to it.”
“Support the musicians that you like, especially the independent artists.”
What’s ‘Transfer value?’ “The big corporations are not paying their fair share with regard to copyright. The thing is that musicians are not being vocal enough about this at all! So how can this ever change if those who are affected are not creating havoc about this? Because at the end of the day, we’re the ones creating the music and these corporations are benefitting from us. Musicians need to revolt! Their music is on spotify or youtube, but why is it taken for granted that we get f€€k-all from these corporations? This isn’t right. Radios are paying their fair dues, why can’t online platforms? Musicians are being ripped off. Maybe it’s about raising more awareness—not just to the musicians, but to their audiences.”
Any advice to punters? “If you like an artist’s music buy it, because online streaming platforms are not going to do it for you. Support the musicians that you like. Go to their gigs. And as a last resort: if you’re using a streaming platform, add them to your playlists so they get more plays…and more pennies.”
And her future plans outside of music? “At the moment it’s all about the music. I finished college last May and I’m a permaculture designer and I love trees and plants. I’m very much into resilience and sustainability. I’m trying to set up my own business planting trees for people. Make them more resilient and self-sufficient.”
Anything to add? “Listen to the album. It’s on Spotify, iTunes, etc. You can get the CD on bandcamp.com. The only thing is that if you listen to it on Bandcamp for free I don’t get a penny!”
Personally, I think she has made an excellent album, and if anybody in the music industry listens to it and feels like they can help Lauren out, I am sure she won’t mind you contacting her.
Full details can be found at Facebook.com/LaurenGuillery.
Disaster in La La Land by Lauren Guillery **** (4/5)
This a grunge album, but not the usual grunge made by teenagers or guys in their early twenties. This is mature song-writing, music to be played loud—and due to its honesty and timelessness—proud. It isn’t the usual, predictable, straight rock in 4/4 either—these songs are also in 5/4 and 3/4 time signatures. However, in the chord progressions, I hear the greats of the genre: Radiohead (‘Get Out Of My Face’); Smashing Pumpkins (‘I Thought I Knew’); and Nirvana (‘Bad Guy’).
La La Land refers to her world – Lauren’s land. Lauren says that “I just want the music to speak for itself.” It does—and it deals with important issues such as chemical dependencies “You take pills and now your pain is gone and so are you” (on ‘Love This Life’). The six- minute, epic, closing track ‘Jessica’ deals openly and honestly with alcoholism. She sings, “For all I know the only thing she needs is for someone to understand/hold her hand.” The torrential ending marks her violent descent into madness.
All songs were written, arranged and produced by Lauren Guillery. She also sings, and plays guitar, and it features talented musicians such as West Cork’s own drumming virtuoso Brian O’Higgins. She says, “It feels like a great achievement.” It truly is.
It can be bought at BandCamp.com or is available on streaming platforms.
My gig of the month
Ciúnas in Connolly’s of Leap on August 2 at 7.30pm. Tickets €15 on sale from Connolly’s.
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