I am guilty of saying this a lot, but the way I like to find out about new artists is through recommendations from friends. For those of you who are regular visitors to my site, you’ll have noticed that we have started to post up our very own sessions. The last session night that we put on was with one of Glasgow’s finest Peter Kelly, aka Beerjacket.
As we’ve been putting on the sessions in the form of acoustic gigs, it’s also meant that that we’ve had support slots lined up. When I first told Sean who films and record the sessions that I had asked Peter to record our latest session, he told me he knew someone who would be a perfect fit for the bill. He’d recently seen Michael playing at a Words Per Minute show in Glasgow and had been totally blown away by him. He sent me over a live recording of his song ‘Everybody’s Scared’, which sounded great so I asked him if he fancied coming along to record a session.
On the night of the recording he literally blew me away with his performance, even threatening to upstage Mr Beerjacket. Since that night I have been raving on about Michael to anyone that will listen to me, not that I expect many folk to actually pay much attention to me. Quite simply I think Michael is one of the most exciting talents I have heard in ages, give him a listen and let me know what you think…
Would you care to introduce yourself?
Hello my name is Michael Cassidy and I am a singer songwriter from Paisley.
How would you describe the music you make?
I would describe my music as alternative folk with influences from pop and rock.
How did you start out making music?
I was brought up in a musical family and played different instruments from a young age. I started out playing the accordion for a few years but grew tired with that and moved onto guitar and piano. Very quickly after picking up the guitar I started to compose my own little ditty’s but they were nothing more than replicas of other artists songs! I started a band with my best friends when I was around 14 and from the outset I took a leading role in the song writing process within the group. So either through the band or on my own I was starting to learn the process of making music. I feel writing for the band was an important step in my song writing education because my band members reactions would ultimately tell me if I had written something crap or not. This helped me become quite critical of my own work and to never settle for something unless I was truly satisfied with it.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
My songs usually come very late at night when I am sitting quietly with an acoustic guitar so not to wake up my parents. I feel at these times my mind is empty of any thoughts and at these times I allow myself to be lost to the process. I usually have a Dictaphone handy to record any ideas and once an idea is down I very rarely go back and change any of it. I like to keep the song writing process very organic. For example, if I don’t have an idea for a chorus or how to end a certain section I will simply leave it to come back to later. I don’t like to force songs and I like the idea that a song comes to the writer without them having to do very much at all.
Who are your big musical influences?
My father is a major influence on my career because he is a multi instrumentalist and has always been in bands since I can remember. He bought me my first few guitars and there was always a piano in my house growing up. He was a founder member of the group the Tannahill Weavers who were a major Scottish folk group of the 1960’s and 70’s and who are still going today.
More contemporary influences include Rufus Wainwright whom I have been to see perform every time he has been to Scotland. I am also influenced heavily by artists such as Radiohead, Richard Thompson, Paul Simon, Dylan and Brian Wilson.
What kind of influence do you feel that where you come from has had on the music you create?
When I was younger there wasn’t a great deal to do so you find yourself starting bands with your friends because it gives you something to fill your time with, this in itself is important because it starts you on the process of creating music.
Although I like to slag it off I am actually proud to come from Paisley and different places within Paisley turn up in my songs. For example I went through a phase of writing poetry on the Train coming into Paisley and was influenced heavily by the sights and sounds I would encounter as I approached the station. Much of this writing found its way into my music. Mainly my writing is quite personal though and is much more to do with the different relationships in my life. There is still grittiness to Paisley however and I doubt I would have been able to have written the same songs had I been brought up in a mansion in Beverly Hills.
What can people expect to see/hear from your live shows?
I like to talk to the audience which can be a good or bad thing depending on the quality of my banter. If it is a busy gig and everyone is in going out mode I like to play a lot of fast foot stompers but if it’s a quiet intimate gig I like to change it up and play a quieter selection of songs. Either way people will hopefully get to hear some well written songs that will leave an impression on them.
What’s the worst heckle you’ve had?
I’ve been lucky enough to escape the heckles so far but I do remember one gig I had with my band a few years ago when we had just come off the stage and this drunk girl who was in another band playing that same night walked straight up to me and said something along the lines of “You think your good but your songs are rubbish and you cant sing!” So Harsh! I would like to tell you that I told her to piss off but I think I said something crap like “cheers your entitled to give your feedback” but that was a good few years ago and I’m OBVIOUSLY over it now, ha ha!
Has there been a particular gig that has stood out for you so far (good or bad)?
I have played a few gigs now in Stereo in Glasgow and I absolutely love it in there. The acoustics of that room just seem to really suit my music and I always seem to get great feedback after gigs in there. Also thanks to Peenko I also played their most recent session with Beerjacket in the Hidden Lane Cafe in the west end. That was a brilliant night and I loved from start to finish the set up of that gig.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any new releases planned for any time soon?
I am starting to record my first album in May in a brand new recording studio that is just being finished in the Gorbals. The old Liptons Social Club has been renovated into a new world class recording studio. I will be in there over the summer recording and I cannot wait for that. Aside from that I have recently found out that I will be played on Ally McCrae’s Radio One show which is an absolute massive deal for me. Hopefully getting a few more gigs confirmed as well, filming another music video and possibly a single release towards the end of the summer. Check out my myspace for any more details.
Michael Cassidy – Everybody’s Scared
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