Describing Julie Feeney is an impossibly beautiful task.
The critically acclaimed composer, singer, song-writer, producer just keeps adding new strings to her bow. Her music straddles genres and changes with each new album.
“I remember writing an essay when I was eight,” she tells the Leinster Leader, “and I wanted to do all the things – I wanted to teach, I wanted to go to the missions, I wanted to be a rockstar, I wanted to be a film composer. I think I wanted to be doing exactly what I am doing.”
On Saturday 24 November, the Galway native performs in the Riverbank, Newbridge alongside the Holy Family Secondary School choir. It is part of a tour during which she will perform alongside 10 choirs in 10 towns around the country.
Though she has worked as a professional choral singer herself, the tour is a huge challenge.
“I have the same engineer and the same musicians for every show but the choirs are completely different so the show won’t be the same.
“Each choir will gravitate to a different song; they’ll sing it in a different way. And that means the piece you thought you were going to put at the top can’t be on top for every choir.”
The songs performed will all be from Feeney’s second album pages, including her most well-known song, Impossibly Beautiful.
“I needed something that they would actually be able to hear as well [beforehand]. pages is particularly well suited to choirs.”
The tour will be broken up by three launch shows for her new album Clocks, released last Friday through Feeney’s own record label “mittens”, named after her mother’s favourite cat.
Raising money for the album through the Irish crowdfunding website ‘Fund it’, she generated over E23,000 from just 203 supporters, smashing her target of E20,000.“I was completely blown away by that. Everyone is saying that the music industry is dying. I was on Facebook and people were saying all these nice things. And it’s hard to know what to do with that.
“And then I heard about Fund It and I thought I’d try it. But it was scary as hell doing it and unbelievably humbling when people actually shot through the target a week before the deadline. But not without a lot of work letting people know about it.”
A multi-talented musician, Feeney played 11 different instruments on her first album, 13 Songs (the first winner of the Choice Music Prize) ranging from accordion to xylophone to a clock. For pages she conducted an orchestra. On Clocks, she has a mixture of both.
Unlike previously, she recorded the singing before the instruments, to give her distinctive mezzo-soprano voice “more space”. With the album’s songs very much rooted in Galway, she recorded the singing in Kylemore Abbey.
“It was eight nights over two weeks in Kylemore Abbey Gothic Church which is just gorgeous. Freezing cold but it was just amazing.”
But you don’t feel the cold if you don’t stand still and Feeney does not look likely to do so anytime soon.
Julie Feeney performs with the Holy Family Secondary School choir in the Riverbank, Newbridge on Saturday 24 November at 8pm. Tickets: E16/E12 concession.
- Liam Godinho