Behind the Voice: Audrey Gallagher

Behind the Voice: Audrey Gallagher

September 9th, 2009

Ireland’s highest voice could very well be echoing from the small village of Moneyglass, where the lovely Audrey Gallagher resides. Miss ‘Big Sky’ has been around music business for a while -and is up for some more . This lady’s worked with Armin van Buuren, John O’Callaghan, tyDi, Claudia Cazacu and more future music legends. Plenty of back-up for this chameleonic singer, and a good foundation to what’s coming up in the future. Whether that be trance, rock or ambient, the voice of Audrey Gallagher will move you. Let’s see which way she’s heading this time.

Armada: When did you first start singing?
Audrey: “I think I came out of the womb singing, it’s just been something I’ve always done. My family is very musical and my mum has a beautiful voice. She spent a lot of time teaching me songs when I was very young. I was in the school & church choirs and started writing my own songs at 14, joined a band at 16 and have been doing it ever since.”

Armada: When and how did you notice there was more than just a good ring to it?
Audrey: “I don’t think I ever did really. It wasn’t like someone told me I was good at it, I just enjoyed it. It was never an issue for me whether anyone else liked it as long as I enjoyed it. I suppose it came together when I joined my first band and they didn’t seem to have any complaints.”

Armada: Did you ever take singing lessons, or did you learn the techniques all by yourself?
Audrey: “I did a few times but it wasn’t really for me. It felt the same as when I took piano & guitar lessons, it just seemed more of a chore. The best lessons I had were listening obsessively to my favourite performers.”

Armada: When were you confident enough to do live performances?
Audrey: “I would sing in front of anyone at the drop of a hat, no invitation necessary. As I got older I suppose I felt more self conscious. But with my band there was an all for one, one for all attitude and it was easy. Being away from performing live for a while I’m having to re-learn and this time no one has my back. It’s all about confidence and a good sound engineer. Being comfortable with what you’re hearing on stage is key and that isn’t always possible.”

Armada: You started your professional singing career with a band called Scheer. How did Scheer came to life and what happened in the following years?
Audrey: “Scheer came to life in an old cow shed in a rural part of the North of Ireland. There wasn’t much else to do and there was a collection of likeminded people, maybe 15 of us, that all formed into different bands, Scheer being one of them. The music was pretty heavy. We signed to Son records in Ireland and then to 4AD, recorded 2 albums and toured incessantly. We played with some brilliant bands, Helmet, Bush, Chilli Peppers, Placebo. That’s the short version.”

Armada: Despite being quite successful the band broke up after a few years, why?
Audrey: “I suppose after being together for so long we all wanted to do different things. We got fed up with the business side of things which were interfering with making music and sucking out the creativity. Basically it stopped being fun. Neal Calderwood (Guitar) wanted to get more involved in production, Peter Flemin (Bass) wanted to go into management. Neal and me started our own Project called Lima and he’s still my producer.”

Armada: How did you eventually end up in EDM? Was it by accident?
Audrey: “Agnelli & Nelson got hold of some of the Lima tracks through Paul McClean at BBC Radio. They really liked my voice and contacted me to see if I would be interested in a collaboration. So they sent me the track and ‘Holding onto Nothing’ was born. I went down to their studio with my 4track and played them what I’d done and they loved it.”

Armada: Has dance music always appealed to you? Did you notice any differences in singing techniques?
Audrey: “All genres of music have always interested me, good tunes are good tunes no matter what where they comes from. I did tend to lean toward more band based artists like the Prodigy and Faithless though. As far a singing techniques go I didn’t really try to change anything.
I just do what feels natural. The main difference is with EDM that the song structure is different than traditional rock based tracks so it took a little more time to find the space for a vocal and where it should go. Because Trance was all new to me I didn’t have any preconceptions of what a vocal should sound like or where it should go.”

Armada: It was ‘Holding Onto Nothing’ that put you on the map in dance world, how do you look back onto that track?
Audrey: “It was a fun thing to do. I never really thought much more about it after I left the studio and I really didn’t think it would go any further. I’ve never been a clubber so I never had the opportunity to see how people reacted to it.”

Armada: There’s a period of 4 years between ‘Holding On To Nothing’ and ‘Big Sky’. Did you take some time off from singing, or what else have you been up to?
Audrey: “Unfortunately the thing that is the ‘Music Business’ reared its head again and we got into a bad situation. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. So I went off and got a proper job, haha. I was still writing but I swore to myself that I was staying out of the industry, it was just too stressful.

Armada: And then there was ‘Big Sky’. What’s there to know about the track that we didn’t know yet?
Audrey: “That track came about by complete accident. I’d been down in Agnelli & Nelsons studio and Chris was playing me new tracks, ‘Wear that Dress’ & ‘Sleeping in Airports’. I loved ‘Wear That Dress’ but somehow I got confused and thought JOC had done the vocals. So I sent him a message through MySpace saying how much I liked ‘Wear That Dress’ and he contacted back saying was I up for doing something together and I suppose the rest is history.”

Armada: What’s it like, working with John? What’s the usual process of making a track with him?
Audrey: “John’s so easy to work with. He’ll send me a few chords or a loop and go back to my 4track and do some work. I usually send him back the finished song and fortunately he’s usually happy. He does have to keep on my case though as I’m not the fastest songwriter in the world. We know each other well enough at this point where he is entitled to give me a kick sometimes.”

Armada: Do you write your own lyrics, or is it always in collab? Where do you get your inspiration from, when it comes to singing/songwriting?
Audrey: “Yes, they’re all mine. I don’t think I would feel comfortable singing someone else’s, it wouldn’t be natural. Inspiration always comes from the melody, it sets the tone. I always begin with a melody and the words come after. It’s rare that I put pen to paper, I just sing until they come. My really old Yamaha MD4 4 track is my lifeline. If it ever packs up I’m in real trouble. ”

Armada: And then there was ‘Hold On To Me’, with Armin. You must have been extremely excited to work with this big guy? Happy with the result?
Audrey: “Of course. Armin sent the initial demo across and I fell in love with it. I loved Eller’s guitars. Once I’d written the vocal I sent it to him and waited for his reaction. That’s always the hard part. Once you hit send you can’t take it back. He rang a few minutes later and I was so relieved when he said he loved it. I flew to Holland in the next few days and we recorded the vocal in his studio. I’m pinching myself and wondering how this happened. He was and is such a gent and he put me at ease straight away. I’m very proud of that track.”

Armada: Your voice really stands out, reaching the high notes and sounding like no one else. Due to that, people tend to either love or dislike your voice. Do you take that as a compliment?
Audrey: “Thank you. Yeah, I think it’s good to have a unique voice but the very fact that it’s unique means it won’t be everybody’s thing and that’s OK. It’s always great to provoke a reaction though, I find it amusing. There’s lots of stuff out there that doesn’t do it for me so I just don’t listen to it. I
don’t quite understand this obsession with sitting on forums telling people how much you really dislike something. I mean, I hate broccoli so I just don’t eat it. I don’t keep sticking it in my mouth to make sure & I really don’t feel the need to tell the world about it. Oops, think I just did’_”

Armada: Got any vocal heroes yourself?
Audrey: There are so many voices that have inspired and influenced me. Although I know I have my own voice I would say it’s got little bits of Maria McKee, Stevie Nicks, Natalie Merchant, Sinead O’Connor and Elizabeth Frazer in there somewhere.”

Armada: ‘Freefalling’ , in collab with Claudia Cazacu, was a big hit this summer. Was it different working with a woman, since the whole dance scene is so male-dominated?
Audrey: “Claudia was brilliant to work with and not just because she’s a woman. We just clicked immediately. She’s just as professional as any other producer I’ve worked with. One difference though, when I sent her the track she sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.
Now, none of the boy’s did that, haha, so take note.”

Armada: ‘You Walk Away’, with the number one DJ of Australia, tyDi, has just been released. How did you end up working with this young talent?
Audrey: “MySpace again! He sent me a message to see if I would be interested in working with him. I get a lot of requests but he really stood out. He sent me a track and to be honest I am so slow so he used it elsewhere. Then he sent me what became ‘You Walk Away’. I loved it instantly and it hasn’t changed a lot from the original. He’s just so talented and an absolute joy to work with. He loves his red wine so he must be all right!”

Armada: We heard some rumors about you two making a full album together. How is the album doing then?
Audrey: “We’re working together at the moment. In fact I should be in the studio now finishing off a new track. We like the same style and sounds, he just knows instantly what will appeal to me. We’ll wait and see where it goes.”

Armada: Still dreaming of any special collabs?
Audrey: “I don’t know really, I’m so happy working with the people that I’m working with at the moment. If Linkin Park or Mike Patton knocked on my door though I wouldn’t say no.”

Armada: What else can we expect to hear from you in the next few months?
Audrey: “I’ll keep quiet about that as again I’m not the fasted writer in the world, but it will be good!”

More info on Audrey Gallagher, check her MySpace.