Interview with Stephen Carolan

We were lucky enough to meet Stephen Carolan, the musician behind the new Irish dance CD Ceol. We thought we would ask the 2 x World Champion a few questions on your behalf!

Here is what he had to say and his time in the world of Irish dancing..

Hi Stephen, thanks for talking to us, lets start by asking how you became involved in Irish dancing?

Well some of my cousins danced before me and I just followed in their footsteps!

What age were you?

I was quite a late starter - I was 8!

What did you like most about Irish dancing when you started?

I think the music has always been my favourite thing about dancing - it makes me want to dance

You've had a lot of success as an Irish dancer, what do you attribute this too?

I think that I became successful as a dancer through a combination of many different things..... such as sheer hard work & determination, positivity, brilliant dancing teachers and support of family and friends.

What is your most memorable moment from your Irish dancing career?

My most memorable moment was definitely winning the Worlds for the second time in 2007 with a perfect score of 700/700 points!

I couldn’t believe I had won the title again and I also knew that that was the last time I would compete, so it was a great feeling to finish on such a high.

Did you dance with any of the shows?

Yes - I did a world tour for one year as a Principle Male Lead Dancer & Troupe Dancer with Rhythm of the Dance. It was a fantastic experience and I had the opportunity to perform in many different countries in front of thousands of people every night.

When did you become interested in playing music? Do you have musical family?

I have a very musical family but none of them play traditional music.

I have always been interested in traditional music myself although like the dancing, I was a very late starter - I only started to play the keyboard (‘feis machine’) when I was 16! I am self-taught and have learned everything I know by ear. I have been playing at feiseanna for about two years now.

Did you start playing Irish dance music straight away?

Yes - I only ever wanted to learn traditional music but I have recently begun to learn some other styles to broaden my repertoire of music in general.

What was it like playing at your first feis?

It was very exciting/nerve-racking!

It was quite a surreal experience for me, it was so different to be playing sidestage as a musician and not dancing on stage as a dancer.

What musicians do you most admire?

I would have to say that it was the very first keyboard musicians that I heard playing that I most admire - Liam Bradley, Francis Ward to name but a few. Their sound was so unique and not like anything that I had ever heard before.

What are your favourite tracks on the new CD?

My favourite track most definitely has to be Track 8 (Hornpipes 113).

The first hornpipe is called ‘Funk In Class’ written by SeánÓg Graham and it’s my favourite tune to play and dance to.

The second tune is one of my own compositions called ‘Stale Appletart’. It’s a very different tune to the first but I think it compliments ‘Funk’ very well.

I also love track 5 (Reels 113) - they are some of my favourite reels to dance to, especially the last tune on that particular track, ‘MacArthur Road’.

Any tips for others musicians looking to start the feis circuit?

One thing is for sure - you definitely need patience! Feiseanna can have very long days sometimes and some require intense concentration - especially for set dances. You need to have a decent repertoire of tunes that dancers like to dance to and also to avoid boredom!

This may seem odd but I think you also need to be physically fit - I find that it definitely helps as I get tired more easily when I’m not fit.

Well, we look forward to seeing you more on the feis circuit! We just have time for our usual quick fire round, so here we go..

Favourite Desert?

Strawberry Cheesecake!

If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?

I would love to go to a bar with Fred Astaire, Roger Federer and the character, ‘John Locke’ from the TV series LOST!

Helicopter or submarine ride?

Definitely a Submarine Ride for all the LOST fans out there!!!!

Thanks for speaking with us. We wish you every success with the album!