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“It’s not like when you’re touring with some group and you’re completely like a robot and you know it’s a big organization and you’re just slotting in. That’s not the most fulfilling existence, I much prefer when it’s a bit hard.” Feeney also remarked on her excitement in touring America and its similarities to Ireland. “Irish audiences have that spark – there’s an energy there and that’s the same with the Americans.”
From an early age, attending boarding schools in rural Galway, Feeney was enthralled by music. When the decision came to record her debut album, 13 songs, she decided to do so without the help or wallets of record labels. When I ask her about the daunting task of creating her first and second albums totally independently, her response was immediate: “Scary as hell but I loved the exhilaration.”
Among her most intimidating moments was during the recording of pages. ”I had the Irish chamber orchestra who are one of Europe’s top orchestras, absolutely an amazing orchestra, the strings are just fantastic. I knew that I was going to be presenting my music that nobody else had ever heard but me to the Irish Chamber Orchestra and I was going to be conducting them. And that was absolutely, totally scary. I had one person come over and I just looked over at him and I just said, ‘Can you just please tell me that I’m not deluding myself? Is this presentable?’ And he’s an experienced orchestrator and he said ‘Oh course, you’re absolutely fine.’ But when you’re working on your own, you don’t know if it’s any good.”
Even with the clout Feeney had with her musical background, any artist facing the task of writing and recording independently faces a huge risk both financially and creatively. “The first [album] was completely self-funded, I took out loans and all kinds of things. For both albums I have borrowed lots and lots of money. I’ve never taken out a mortgage; I’ve never bought a car. Anytime I’ve ever taken a loan out it’s been for my music, which is kind of phenomenal actually. I’ve gone into debt for both albums… If you really love it, you will put your neck on the line. There’s always a huge element of fear. It’s not that I like to torture myself but something erupts inside you and you will do whatever, you’ll put your neck on the line for it to happen. You can get caught up in what other people are doing and what other people got that you didn’t get but I think if you can put your neck on the line then you’ll know. You won’t even be looking around at anyone else. I’ve had that on both albums.”
Despite her ever-busy schedule, Feeney’s mind was already on her third album. She knows the title of the album and she knows the vibe she wants to express – neither of which she would share. “One of my best friends was like ‘Can you please tell me?’” she laughed, “and I said, ‘No I actually can’t tell anybody…It’s not a superstitious thing but it has to form in my head first. But I actually do, I know exactly what it’s going to be.”
For her albums, 13 songs and pages, and for tour dates, visit www.juliefeeney.com.