Áine Cahill interview: Opinionated pop

Kate Noble chatted to the 23-year old about the her latest single, Blood Diamonds, recently signing with Warner Music and touring with Kodaline.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 2nd Mar 2018

Image: Courtesy 'Other Voices' Rich Gilligan

Hailing from County Caven, Ireland, pop singer-songwriter Áine Cahill has been drumming up attention over the past few years and 2018 is no exception. The idiosyncrasy of her ironically sassy style makes Áine a cut above the rest and definitely one to watch this year.

With her scathingly sassy lyrics coupled with effortlessly soulful vocals it’s no surprise her career is going from strength to strength, recently supporting the likes of JP Cooper and Kodaline. With song writing capabilities way beyond her years.

Hi Áine, what a lovely Irish name! Do people ever get it horribly wrong? (FYI – it’s pronounce awn-yah)

All the time, all the time. I’m doing all these writing sessions and stuff, the first thing they ask me is how do I pronounce my name because nobody can get it right. It’s just the way it’s spelt and the little accent over the Á, no one gets it over here [in England]. I’ve had ‘eye-nee’, I don’t mind if people say me Ann because that’s my nans name and Áine is Irish for Ann. I’ve also had ‘ine’ or ‘ay-n’, someone assumed my name was Ange once. Close enough, I don’t mind…

For people who don’t know you how would you describe your sound? 

I feel like I am literally only finding my sound now so half the stuff I have out on my Spotify now it’s all kind of experimental. The direction I’m going in, in terms of what I talk about in my lyrics – I always have something to say – I call it opinionated pop. But then the sound, I’m just really experimenting with different things so it’s kind of going down a more electronic route. I’m trying to bridge the gap between authentic instruments and synthetic sounds so I’m trying to find the right balance between the two – that’s where I’m at for the moment. 

Who are your musical influences?

I love Lana Del Ray, Lady Gaga and Marina and The Diamonds. I’m really drawn to strong female artists – Arianna Grande, Florence and The Machine – literally all female artist, I listen to loads on Spotify. 

Are those who you aspire to be like?

I’ve looked up to a lot of those people my whole teens, and still now, I think it would be cool if people could connect to my music and look up to me in that way but I don’t have this big idea in my head that I’m gonna be a worldwide superstar I just want to make music that people can connect with. If it affects one person in a positive way then that’s all I want. Lady Gaga – I heard her on the radio and that inspired me to start playing piano, if I could do that for someone else I think that would be the coolest thing in the world. 

You toured with Kodaline last year, how was that?

It was crazy. I nearly died, my manager sent me the email and I go “what the f***”. I’d actually met them and played Fairytale of New York with them Christmas 2016 in Dublin and I thought it was a one-time thing, I’d never get to play with them ever again and then I got to support them on the tour. They’re massive and they’re actually really lovely lads and very professional I had a really good time, it was a great experience. 

Did you generate new fans, what was the response like from these shows?

Yeah, my Instagram especially was going mad, I was getting a lot of new followers. Even before that in October when I supported JP Cooper I went to the UK as well it was the same. I think doing support is good, first of all for the experience of doing shows back to back, and then you get to reach a whole new audience with your music, I just think it’s really cool. 

Do you prefer supporting or headlining when touring?

I like both – with support you reach a new audience but with your own shows you get to connect with your fans. I’ll probably end up doing a bit of both this year.

You recently signed with Warner Music, how’s that going?

It’s crazy because I’ve only been doing music for a little bit of time and I have only been singing for the last few years. When I was leaving school I knew I didn’t want to go to college – I just wanted to sing. The one thing I had in my head was I wanted to be signed to a major label, that was my goal and then it happened. And I feel that it was like a validation for myself like “you can do it!” you know what I mean? I feel a huge change, I feel more confident now with the family at Warner that have backed me because I’m working with lovely people there. Yeah, I’m buzzing about everything, I’ve been working a lot on new songs and writing with different people and I’m really improving, I can hear in myself. I’m starting to reach my full potential and branching out. When I was writing on my own I had my own little comfort zone but now I’m finding new ways, working with loads of new people. 

What are your plans for this year?

I think it’s a bit of everything but for now I’ll be focusing on writing and creating songs for hopefully the first album. There’s an EP coming out soon as well! I’ve been doing some gigs over here [UK] and at home and hopefully there’ll be an album out late this year or early next year. For me the main focus of this year is making the best songs I possibly can – if the music isn’t up to standards then everything else is kinda irrelevant. So I want to get everything right in terms of music and then we can go on tour and see the world. In my head that is a secondary thing at the moment. I’m playing a few shows next month which I’m buzzing about because I haven’t been doing gigs since supporting Kodaline I’ve just been writing so I’m excited. 

Blood Diamond is such a tune, could you tell me more about it?

Aw thank you! Yeah, it was the third song I’ve ever wrote in my life and it was kind of a song I never did anything with it. I wrote that when I was 18 and I’ve been playing it live since. So the song is about greed and this is how I announce it when I play it live: “How all the bad bitches in the world get whatever they want and how all the nice people get nothing and we get nowhere.” It’s just that kind of mentality that’s what it’s about or like people that put material things ahead of people and things that are actually really important. I’ve actually had a lot of people who are like “are you actually being serious? Oh my God.” And its like if you knew who I was as a person you would know that its literally me ripping the p*** out of the whole idea of diamonds and all this stuff that’s so not me as a person it was more an observation of other people. It wasn’t about anyone in particular it was just a character I created in my head that was really self-absorbed, a rich b**** kind of persona. Of course I’m being ironic! But some people took the song in a literal way – I wasn’t expecting that. When you listen to a song I know its important for people to understand what it is straight away, when I wrote it I thought it was the best thing ever with the metaphor, I didn’t think people would take it so seriously and think I was promoting blood diamonds! It’s so sarcastic, the lyrics are “I’m the biggest b**** in the world” Why else would I call myself a b**** in the song? You can’t please everyone I suppose.

What music are you into at the moment?

I’ll listen to my favourite people on repeat but I’ve just got into Billie Eilish and I’m obsessed because she’s everything I really like, she’s full of harmonies, hip hop trap beats and then really ethereal sounds so I’m really enjoying her at the moment. I always listen to Lorde, Gaga, Lana Del Ray.  

What’s 3 things that people might not know about you?

That’s a really good question, I don’t know! I feel like nobody knows me because in my songs I usually write in a character – in these new songs I’m really writing about myself. Ooh I’m 4ft 11” which is quite short and I’ve had people who meet me after I’ve been on stage and they say “I thought you were a lot taller than you actually are.” I’m like an inch taller than being classed as a dwarf. What else…I love Harry Potter and I’m the middle child in my family, there’s five kids and I’m the middle one! But yeah, I feel like no one knows me, not yet though, you will with the new stuff, I’m opening up a lot more.

So is your new stuff relating more to yourself as an individual rather than creating a character through music?

Yeah definitely and that’s something I was kind of conscious about like I can’t have all my songs relating to other characters so when I went into these sessions I really wanted to talk about something that means something to me…I don’t want to give too much away. But it’s just little things I’ve been thinking about for a while and it’s always been on my mind and I feel like I can write about it now. I feel like I’ve really opened up – I’m excited to show a different side of me in terms of song writing and getting my personality across.

Do you find it easier to write about real life experiences or about characters?

I don’t know I feel like I know when I really want to write about something or a title is on my mind for a few days and I’ll think “I need to write about this” and it could either be about something I’ve been through or something I’m feeling or about a character like Blood Diamonds or Black Dahlia. It’s not about me but it does relate to me in a way – it’s using someone else’s story to tell my own. I feel like I have wrote about my own experiences but I’ve cloaked them over different things to say what I really mean. And that’s something I’ve always struggled with as a person, I don’t know how to say my feelings, I don’t know how to open up but now I am doing. I’ve always used music to get everything off my chest, now I’m doing it in a more personal way, I’m not tiptoeing ‘round it anymore. 

Where are you aiming to conquer this year?

The focus for this year will be Ireland and the UK, then it will be Europe. I’m not unknown at home, I get playlisted on the national radios and I’ve just been nominated for Irish Song of The Year 2017 by RTE Choice Music Prize for Plastic so I feel like I’m more known at home than here but that’s the focus – to get everything up to the same level. 

Find Áine Cahill tickets.

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