Irish prodigy, Chanele McGuinness weaves classic and timeless themes of the difficult truths we experience in life, seen through a youthful eye but told with a maturity that is beyond her years. Her emotive debut EP ‘Already Gone’ introduced a brave new voice to the world – unfaltering and unwavering in earnest self-reflection about the world and the people around her.
We spoke to the singer to gain some perspective into her early years in music, from her days as a Britney Spears tribute act to her first tour supporting Natalie Prass.
Where and when did you first discover your interest in music?
“I have very early memories of putting on these little music shows with a group of my friends for the neighbourhood we lived in. We were all between 6 and 10 years old, we would rehearse all summer & at the end of summer we’d set up chairs in one of the girls’ garages & put on a show for everyone. Considering it was only us & no one else organising our rehearsals, we did pretty well! hahaha I was always a Britney Spears tribute act! From then on, I can’t remember not being involved in music in some way.”
What was the first instrument you learned to play?
“I think probably tin whistle in school! Ha! But that didn’t go very far. I started taking guitar lessons at around 10…”
When did you start writing your own songs/music?
“Almost instantly after learning the basics on guitar. Probably around 11? But those songs were really terrible. I remember writing a very depressing song about my rescue cat at the time…I think that was the first “full” song I wrote.”
What would you say has been the highlight so far in your musical career?
“Last year, I got to tour with one of my favourite singers & friend, Natalie Prass. It was my first tour & just the best first tour experience I could’ve asked for. Her & her band & crew took me in as one of them & it was just so inspiring to be surrounded by such lovely, talented people everyday.”
What does music mean to you?
“I can’t imagine life without music. It has always been there. I can’t remember a time when it hasn’t been there – whether that’s writing, playing or just being able to put on headphones & go to another world. It is connected to every part of me & my life. I honestly don’t know where I would be without music.”
Where did you play your first gig?
“In my school hall… I was probably 14 & it was a talent show! It was my first time singing songs I had written in front of an audience.”
What has been the definitive record that has made the most impact on your life?
“I have so many… can I pick three?
‘Tapestry’ by Carole King
‘Absence’ by Paper Route
‘Songbird’ by Eva Cassidy”
Who is your favourite songwriter?
“Carole King, Joni Mitchell & Burt Bacharach are 3 of my all time favourites. Just beautiful, timeless songs. More recently, Conor O’ Brien from Villagers, Lisa Hannigan & Sufjan Stevens. I definitely can’t pick one.”
A song lyric that means a lot to me is…
“I’ve looked at life from both sides now / From win and lose and still somehow / It’s life’s illusions I recall / I really don’t know life at all” – Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now
A song that describes my current mood/frame of mind at this time is…
Chanele McGuinness will be touring with Matthew E. White for a run of dates in Ireland this January. For the full list of dates, see below.