Diamond in the Rough – An interview with Aine Cahill

Rising star of the Irish music industry Áine Cahill is about to hit it big. Her new single, Blood Diamonds, is blowing up the airwaves and her tour has seen her perform with the likes of Kodaline and  JP Cooper. Having been named on multiple ‘ones to watch’ and ‘best newcomer’ lists, Aine Cahill is definitely someone to keep two eyes on in 2018. Méabh McDonnell spoke to her about her music, writing, and hopes for the future

There aren’t many people who would go up on stage and declare ‘I’m the biggest bitch in the world’ but Áine Cahill is not your average person. Of course she’s telling the story of the  girl in her single, ‘Blood Diamonds’ when she says it, but still, it takes guts.

Originally from Cavan, Áine wasn’t someone who considered music as a profession when she was young. ‘When I was younger I was really into sport, I was like a tomboy, and then when I was about 15 or 16, I was sitting in the kitchen, just listening to music and it was a performance that Lady Gaga did on the radio. She was just accompanied by piano, and I listened to it and said, “ I want to play the piano,” and then it just went on from there. I just started to focus on music, when I was 18 I started writing songs, and that was where I began.’

Having never gone for music lessons, you might have thought music was something daunting for Áine but she just jumped right in. ‘I didn’t even study music in school, it’s weird, I just found it, or it found me, I suppose you could say.’

‘I taught myself how to play piano from YouTube and singing, well that just came out of no where, I suppose it came from doing covers of my favorite songs. All of the Lady Gaga songs, I used to cover them, and sing them everywhere, that’s kind of where I learned to sing.’

From humble beginnings, Áine pursued music and kept going when she figured out this was her dream, ‘At the beginning when I first started I was really nervous, really nervous, but I just had to get out there and do it.  It comes with the territory, I suppose, you have to get out there and do it, if you want to perform.’

I didn’t even study music in school, it’s weird, I just found it, or it found me, I suppose you could say.

The last two years have seen all of that hard work pay off with Áne catapulting into the Irish and UK music scene, even getting BBC coverage at Glastonbury. ‘It’s crazy, I suppose the big turning point was when I played Glastonbury, that was a shift in my whole career. It just put me in front of a lot of people. To be honest I had no idea it would be like that when it was happening. Because you do so many things and get nothing from it, but this really blew up, it was crazy. We were just doing a normal set in a small tent at Glastonbury and the BBC just kind of stumbled across the tent and asked us to do Black Dahlia.’

Having done big name festivals such as Glastonbury and Electric Picnic and huge stadiums like the 3 Arena, Áine has experienced a multitude of venues, we wondered if she had a favorite among them? ‘I don’t know, because every gig is different. If I had to choose, I think I’d say the 3 Arena, because it’s so big and you get to perform to so many people, but then you have places like The Grand Social and that was where I played my first sold-out headline show, to 200 and that’s so intimate that you get to really connect with everyone. So it’s two different types of gigs really. I love all of them.’

Áine’s gigs are full of striking, powerful atmosphere, which is reflected in the quality of her music. Áine takes her inspiration from other female artists who use storytelling in their atmospheric lyriccs, ‘My biggest inspiration are Lady Gaga, Lana de Rey and Marina and the Diamonds, I think if I ever stumbled across team in real life I’d die!’

This inspiration is clear in Áine’s music which tells her own unique stories. . She tells the stories of unusual women. From Black Dahlia, which tells the story of a Hollywood murder in the 50s to Blood Diamonds, where she assumes the personality of a cold-hearted woman, ‘the biggest bitch in the world’. The lyrics stick in your mind. ‘When I first started writing all of my songs were like that [story based]. When I started developing my songwriting on my own I just realized that all of my songs were built around the story. Storytelling is a big part of my writing. I want people to listen to it and be able to picture themselves in the situation. To see it in their heads.’

Blood Diamonds is full of meaty lyrics, with powerful images. Áine talked about the inspiration behind this song, ‘Blood Diamonds is about just that, blood diamonds, that people are in Africa, risking their lives to get these diamonds over to people over here. That’s what it was based on, something that I see as one of the greediest industries in the world. And I wrote the song about that, it’s about greed and people with the mindset that material things are more important than people, so I’m just playing the role of a bitch, I’m not a bitch though!’

When I started developing my songwriting on my own I just realized that all of my songs were built around the story.

In the latest release of Blood Diamonds, Áine collaborated with Courage, who remastered the song and gave it, in Aine’s words, ‘A new lease of life, it’s still my song, but he brought something new to it. It was completely different experience and was really cool for me.’

Áine’s storytelling lyrics are so refreshing when compared to most hits and new music that is released week on week, and tells another love story. There’s something wonderfully different about that. She has a unique perspective, telling interesting, intricate tales. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever written a love song,’ said Aine. ‘I’m going to be doing a lot of writing over the next few weeks and then I’m hoping to put an album together in the new year, fingers crossed.’

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The Irish music industry is booming at the moment and seems to be in a really good place right now. ‘Ireland is full of huge, huge talent, and even talent that hasn’t been discovered yet, haven’t been put on the radio yet. It’s really cool to be in such a thriving environment at the moment. There’s so much music and talent coming out now, it’s mad, we’re such a small country and yet we have so much to offer.’

It would be great to get more of a spotlight on female artists.

However, even for an industry that’s doing so well, we would always like to see some groups get more recognition, ‘I think it would be really cool to see more female artists, to hear more female artists on the radio, and get more press. It would be great to get more of a spotlight on female artists. There are a lot of male artists in Ireland that are huge and well done to them. But it would be nice to see some more female artists getting out there as much as the male ones,’ said Áine.

Music is a hard road to go down, but one that is filled with so many passionate and talented people. ‘If I was giving advice to people I’d say my golden rule would be having a good manager that you can trust and someone who is going to send you in the right direction is a really good thing to have but I think first and foremost you should write your own songs. It’s really important to write your own material.’

Áine’s music is going from strength to strength right now, and if things continue in this way then Aine is sure to go along with her heroes and inspire many girls to write interesting, lyrical songs of their own.

Follow Áine Cahill on Facebook or Twitter to find out where you can see her live.

Images photographed by Alex Douglas at The Roundhouse, London.

Happy International Women’s Day! Cinders Reading List

Happy international women’s day to all of the friends, mothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, co-workers, inspirations and activists out there! You all inspire us daily and make us take pride in who we are and make us choose who we want to be.

This year our thanks go out to all of the brave women who have told their stories and truths in the hope that we can be part of a better future. Both in the workplace and outside of it.

Here in Cinders we love brave confident women and we look up to them every day. Here’s hoping that we can grow up to be like them.

If you’re looking for some fantastic International Women’s Day reading then look no further, here’s our definitive list:

If you like non-fiction and badass women:

Rocking the System by Siobhan Parkinson

If you like scientific Victorian feminism:

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Gross

If you like sci-fi dystopias:

Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

If you like realistic stories:

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

If you like relatable stories with musicals in the end:

Like other Girls by Claire Hennessy

If you like fairytales:

Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan and Illustrated by Karen Vaughan

Make sure to check out the CBI #BOLDGIRLS hashtag for more brilliant reading recommendations!

Winning the vote: 100 years of women’s suffrage

Today is the 100 the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in Ireland and the UK.

It was a day that marked a victory in a significant campaign that had been raging for decades before it and represented paving the way towards a future that they would have a more equal hand in deciding.

They paved the path towards a society where all women would one day have the right to vote and make decisions in the running of their countries.

For the likes of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Emmeline Pankhurst and Constance Markievicz the Representation of the People Act, 1918 represented the culmination of a fight they had sacrificed for and a world they had rebelled against.

However it’s important to remember that the vote for women that was legalised in 1918 came with large restrictions. Only women over thirty who were landowners or possessed a university education had the right to vote. This meant that only 40 per cent of women were actually entitled to the vote. In Ireland women over 21 didn’t win the right to vote until 1922.

All citizens of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of twenty-one years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for members of Dáil Eireann, and to take part in the Referendum and Initiative.

Over the 100 years that have passed  and we have gained the full right to vote, to decide in referendums, to vote for our president and to vote for our political leaders. We have gained the power of choice.

And on days like today it is important to remember that to women 100 years ago that choice was a something that needed fighting for. Something that had to be decided for them. Something they had to hope came true.

So next time an election or a referendum arrives, make sure you use that right.

Vote.

 

Illustration by Méabh McDonnell

New year, new volume of Cinders

Welcome to volume two! This last year has been one of the best experiences all of us who work on Cinders have ever had. It has been so wonderful to watch this magazine become a reality, moving on from a dream that many of us have shared for many years. It gives us so much pleasure to take our little magazine that could from its first issues into our second year.

We’ve had some incredible highlights from issue one, from interviews with the likes of Ashely Clements, Mary Kate Wiles, Deirdre Sullivan, Meg Grehan, Karen Vaughan and Diana Mirza to looking at feminist influences in pop culture. We’ve looked at some of our favorite tv shows, brilliant movies and incredible historical figures with all around feminist and entertaining writer, Grainne Coyne! We also were lucky enough to be finalists in the V by Very Blog awards Ireland in the books and literature category and shortlisted in the Politics category!

Continue reading New year, new volume of Cinders

Fire up those friendships

First published as ‘Happy Galentines Day Ladies’ in issue two of Cinders Magazine.

Cinders editor, Méabh McDonnell, explains her take on ‘Galentine’s day’ and the importance of celebrating female friendships and being seen as a woman in today’s society. 

“February 14th, Valentines day is about romance, but February 13th, Galentine’s Day, is about celebrating lady friends.” Those were the words of the great Leslie Knope, America’s most optimistic government worker and protagonist of the late, great, Parks and Recreation. I think that Galentine’s Day is a day to take note of the positive female relationships in your life and let those women know just how much they mean to you.

I truly believe that Galentine’s Day is something that we need.

We need a day to celebrate the other women in our lives, whether they are our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our best friends, our cousins or our nieces; because we all have some positive female relationships in our lives and it feels so good to celebrate those.

How many of us have said, or thought, the words ‘I don’t really get along with other girls.’ or ‘I’m not really a girls-girl’ or the queen-bee of them all: ‘I’m not like other girls’. I’m willing to bet most of us have. I know I have. And it begs only one response: ‘What’s wrong with “other girls”?’

Continue reading Fire up those friendships

Finding my Way to Feminism

First published in issue one of Cinders Magazine

Feminism is still a tricky word for some people – that’s a fact that we at Cinders would love to change. Here, editor Méabh McDonnell talks about her journey to becoming a feminist.

The more people who realise that Feminism merely means believing that women deserve equal treatment, respect and rights to men, the better. We need to de-mystify the word. We also need to acknowledge the importance of intersectionality, the idea that some women have more to deal with than others. While you may feel that feminism has done its job for you, it may not for your LGBTQIA+ friend, your POC colleague, or your non-cisgendered idol. Continue reading Finding my Way to Feminism