Catherine McGrath

British Summer Time – Interview : Catherine McGrath

Catherine McGrath has been causing quite a stir this year. She’s supported The Shires, released an EP and has been writing with Nashville’s finest. GIGsoup caught up with her at BST Hyde Park.

What excites you the most about this BST gig? 

I go on stage in half an hour in Hyde Park. It’s gonna be fun. Just the fact that it’s an outdoor festival, I’ve never done that before. It’s a really cool line up and I get to hang out watch the other acts all day. Tom Petty will be cool. I’m excited to discover new people as well.

You seem to be getting the big shows. How has that been for you?

Country to Country was my first really big show. It was just incredible because it was a room full of people who love the same music as me. It’s been really cool. Every single show it’s been cool to play to an audience who really love the kind of music I play and are into the same kind of music. I am really glad it’s happened that way. I got to support with The Shires and all those people. Everyone just responded really well. It’s been good so far. Hopefully it will stay that way.

What is the story behind your new single, ‘Starting from Now’.

It was one of the first songs I wrote. At the time I had no idea how to write with other people or what I was supposed to say, so I told them that I’d been cheated on before and we wrote about that.  Ending a relationship being afraid to get into a new relationship.

What’s your take on the new wave country scene that the UK seems to be loving?

I think it’s really cool that genres are like specific to one thing anymore. There’s pop country, there’s George Jones and people like Sam Hunt who are doing country, there are people like Maren Morris who are million miles away from that. People aren’t afraid to branch out and try new things.

What were you influences growing up?

When I really tiny, Mum and Dad played really traditional Irish music. Dad did his own acoustic stuff. I was brought up on Irish country. When I was 12 I got into country music. There was pop music on the radio, like Justin Bieber and Katy Perry and so there was a blend. It’s been a mix of traditional Irish music, country music and pop music.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Kelsea Ballerini. I love her music. Just everything, her lyrics, her sound. I like the way she writes her own songs as well. It makes everything really personal, authentic. People like Rascal Flats and Carrie Underwood. Their music is such a big influence.

What’s your approach to song writing?

Usually I have random lyrics on my phone that I just thought of whilst I was out and about and I’ve written them down. So I go in and say, I have this idea or this happened to me. We talk about it and we’ll work on lyrics together based on my initial idea. It’s always different, but that’s how it usually goes. I really love collaborating. If I write by myself I can doubt how good the song is, but if there’s other people they can be like, ok, maybe we should change this. It’s kind of easier writing with somebody else, they can say yes, no and then get the song finished.

Jamie Robinson is my favourite songwriter. He’s in Nashville. On my last trip we wrote five songs together. Most of songs just come from conversations and they felt really real. The song ‘Just in case’ came  about because I was talking about how relationships often might not work, but we have to go for them, ‘Just in case’. He was like ok, we wrote about that.

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What was the first song you learnt to play?

The first song I learnt on guitar was ‘The Lion Sleeps tonight’ My Grandma taught me that, she taught me to play guitar.  The first song I sang was ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’. I sang it all the time and would pretend I was Judy Garland.

When did you know that you would be able to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter?

I didn’t ever think, oh, I’m gonna do this, never thought this is the route I’m gonna take. I was just doing it, putting videos on You Tube. Then my manager found me on You Tube and said ‘How would you like to come over to London and start writing songs?’ So two 2 weeks later I moved over, I was in a room with people, in studios, so it was all really fast and took me by surprise. But it was also really natural at the same time, because I’ve always done it.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Lots more festivals, and then hopefully towards the end of the year, put out a single.

Quick fire questions:

Tea or Coffee? Tea

The sea or the city? The sea

Nashville or Belfast? Nashville – everything about it. The people, the songs that come out of it. The food, the weather. I’m just in love with Nashville.