A few years ago now we sat down with Ciaran McMeeken, and young songwriter making his way in a market saturated with computers and beeps and boops, committed to his craft, McMeeken has now come out the other end of a debut self-titled album released just today. We decided it was a good time to sit down with the man and talk about all things music, travel, life, and more music.
Hey Ciaran, it’s been a couple of years since we last spoke, I remember you had just released a couple of singles then, how have the past couple of years been for you?
The last few years have been incredible. Lot’s of collaborating and co-writing with a vast array of different artists and songwriters. A lot of experimentation and creating with the band in the rehearsal studio too, all of which has been really fun and inspiring. Also, getting out on the road with Avalanche City and Ronan Keating last year was a real highlight!
And you’ve been travelling a little bit, I see that some of this album was written in Europe, what kinds of influences have you taken from your travels?
Last year I spent 5 weeks writing with 17 different artists and groups in London, Amsterdam and Switzerland to name a few. This was such an incredible trip for many reasons but the main one being the actual quantity of back-to-back sessions really forced me to get creative with the lyrics and music. Particularly lyrics. I often found myself writing about random things happenings that had occurred earlier that day or about someone that I met in the tube. Travelling in itself is so inspiring, always meeting new people and seeing beautiful sights. There is also a lot of time for reflection and pondering so travelling it’s a writers best friend.
Do you have one memory that stands out above the others from your trip?
I was working with a group called ‘Soul Searchin’ in Amsterdam which comprised of 7 dudes. I remember, we were working on a really dark, moody song when we took a coffee break and went out and sat in the sun. We were all getting along so well and having a laugh and I said, what the heck are we doing? We are having such a fun, happy time together yet we are writing this really morbid song. (It was called ‘Prisoner’ – you can imagine the content) So we went back into the studio with the intention of writing an upbeat, classic song. We came up with a tempo and stood round in a circle, like cavemen banging our chests with our fists to keep the beat and each singing melodies. It was bloody funny. We came up with a cool melody, which tuned into a bass line, which then formed the foundation of what became ‘Wi-Fi’. They were the most enthusiastic, passionate and engaged group of people I have ever written with! We had such a blast writing that song.
And you wrote The Feeling, your current single, with MoZella, what was it like working with her?
For those who don’t know MoZella, she is an amazing American songwriter who has done lots of writing with the likes of One Direction & Miley Cyrus, to name a few. This was a really great experience and the funny thing is that we were never even meant to write a song together. We were only meant to have a 20 minute ‘mentoring’ session together, where I told her about my career and asked her for advice etc. I though bugger that, I have 20 minutes alone with one of the worlds best songwriters, I’m going to write a bloody song with her! So we did, I stormed into the room with my guitar and we pretty much wrote ‘That Feeling’ with her then and there on the spot!
The album comes out today, if you could describe this album in just a few sentences how would you describe the vibe?
It’s very classic and old school in the sense that there are real musicians, playing real instruments. From the get go, we went in with an old school approach and we wanted to make something that felt timeless and classic, but still stand up in the modern music landscape. It’s very diverse; there are some really fun, uplifting songs. Some soft acoustic tracks and some groovy, moody songs.
I know were not meant to have favourites but were only human, do you have a favourite track on the album?
They are all my wee babies but if I had to choose, I’d pick the final song ‘Spanish Steps’. For me it is a song about the search for oneness or a sense of belonging. It’s a beautiful nostalgic song and stirs a lot of emotion in me. My producer Greg Haver, is from Wales originally and he said this song reminds him of the Welsh word ‘Hireath’, which has no English translation. It means to have a longing or yearning for your homeland. I really love that.
And the tour is this week too! Is there anything you’re most looking forward to?
I grew up in Arrowtown near Queenstown and went to school in Dunedin, so it feels really special to be playing the album release shows in my hometowns. Especially Dunedin tonight where my journey in music all kicked off! It feels really appropriate!! Also, the band and I have been working towards this tour for a long time so we are all just itching to get on stage and rock out!
Where are you at creatively after recording this album, and what do you think the future holds for Ciaran McMeeken?
Creatively.. No idea. Who the heck knows what kind of music I’ll write next?? That really excites me! In terms of what the future holds, I can’t be totally sure, but I know it will be bold! I have some big dreams!
Finally, if there was one person who you would love to see in the crowd at your show, anyone in the world, who would it be?
My Grandad. He passed away a few years back before I even got into music. It’d be damn special to have a toast of whiskey with him and my dad and see him out in the crowd!
Thats pretty special man, we’re looking forward to your Auckland show coming up soon!
Thanks for the chats! See you soon.
Ciaran McMeeken’s self titled album is on all good streaming platforms now, and he is touring NZ with shows in Dunedin (tonight), Queenstown (05/08), Wellington (06/08), and Auckland (10/08), tickets on Ticketmaster now.