OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Christine Tobin
- Interviews / Q&As
Renowned for her kaleidoscopic musical palette, she can be a junkyard blues philosopher, snappy beat seductress, a conduit for exquisite zen-like harmonies or reflective Americana. Dublin native Christine Tobin has been an integral part of both the New York City and London scenes for many years, has recently returned to Ireland and now resides in Roscommon.
Her authentic sound was described by The Guardian as “Tobin’s 24 carat voice” while praising her both for the poetry of her compositions and the warmth of her golden voice. Her style, although rooted in jazz, is eclectic and draws on a broad range of influences. MOJO Music Magazine said of her “Christine Tobin really transcends glib genre-fication. Her expressive range acknowledges finely acquired folk, jazz and 20th-century classical influences, which already sets her apart. And everything is shot through with an unmistakable refinement, free-spirited earthiness and giddy romanticism, this singer-songwriter is in a field of one.”
MOJO Music Magazine“Christine Tobin really transcends glib genre-fication. Her expressive range acknowledges finely acquired folk, jazz and 20th-century classical influences, which already sets her apart. And everything is shot through with an unmistakable refinement, free-spirited earthiness and giddy romanticism, this singer-songwriter is in a field of one. ”
Ahead of her 'Tower of Song' performance at the Sin É on Thursday November 11th 2021, Christine shared her thoughts with us on the healing power of music, inspirations from returning home to Ireland, and re-connecting with audiences.
Q. What is the most important thing to you when making music?
The most important thing to me when making music is to connect with the musicians I’m playing with on a deep level and to communicate and move the audience, to make them feel something. I’ve always found music to be a healing force. I think of it as a cathartic experience and not limited to any particular musical style but emanating from being your true self. So to find authenticity is extremely important.
Q. Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?
Coming back to Ireland after being away for 33 years caused a seismic shift in my life and I’ve found the whole experience of returning home very inspiring. There’s nothing like having the rug pulled from under you and your life turned upside down to spark new ideas, find alternative perspectives and see the world and your life in a different way. All the turmoil brings a great freshness with it and if you can hang on it’s definitely worth the ride!
It inspired the themes for my forthcoming new project ’Returning Weather’, commissioned by The Dock with an Arts Council of Ireland 'Music Commissions Award’. The Dock is an exciting cultural hub and I’m delighted to have this partnership with them. The commission gives me the opportunity to write music that will bring together instruments associated with Irish trad, and some of the instruments I work with in jazz. It’s taking me into new musical territory with great musicians; David Power uileann pipes, Cora Venus Lunny violin, Phil Robson guitar & electronics, and Steve Hamilton piano.
There’s a wealth of inspiring artists creating work here in Ireland. I’ve just been to see iGirl by Marina Carr at the Abbey with the utterly brilliant Olwen Fouère. It’s a deep, provocative and powerful play. I loved Doireann Ní Griofa’s book ‘A Ghost in the Throat’. The writing is so poetic and her way of moving back ’n forth through time and history is really fresh. There’s a great beauty and humanity in the work of spoken word artist Adam Mohammed. I was deeply moved when I first heard his piece ‘Untitled’ on the RTÉ arts programme Arena. Patrick Mac Allister is a wonderful painter working from his studio in Bray. He has a wild spirit and his work is rich and expressive.
Q. How would you describe the kind of music in this programme?
Another great thing about coming home is meeting and getting to know some very talented young musicians. For this programme I will be doing my second gig with one of my new bands featuring rhythm section Connor Murray double bass, David Lyttle drums and my partner Phil Robson guitar. The 'Tower of Song’ in our title is borrowed from the great Leonard Cohen song and hints that we’ll be doing a big mix of songs chosen from the 11 albums I’ve made over the years under my own name. These include originals and arrangements of some of my favourite song writers and a few jazz classics. It’s a real pleasure to play with these great young musicians.
Q. In your ideal gig, what experience/response would the audience have?
I would want them to be moved, to feel connected and loved. I think after the tough year and a half we’ve all had with the pandemic, we all deserve a big musical hug! I sometimes think of the voice as an echo chamber of the heart. Let the beat go on...