Interviews from Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show

Nina Hynes

"We are not your typical Irish band. Listening to us you could not say 'That is an Irish band' ..."

March 2000

Fresh from a tour of the East Coast of America and appearances with Stereolab and David Gray, Nina Hynes and company are presently holed up in the studio recording the band's second release, their first proper album. The complete band joining Nina in studio consists of reunited guitarist and producer Joe Chester, former Cactus World News drummer Wayne Sheehy, programmer/sound wizard Nico from France and ex-Mundy bassist Shane Fitzsimons.

Nina & Co. hit Irish roads in January and February 2000 for an Irish tour and then return to the U.S. this month for their first full U.S. tour. The band's debut, Creation, not only received great reviews in Ireland, but America has warmly embraced it. Several of the songs off of it are getting strong airplay on the few radio stations it was leaked to. Guitars, bass, drums, technology & samples make up the core of what Nina sees as her permanent band and live act. However, she isn't completely interested in settling down into one musical marriage, which means that there will always be a string of accompanying artists and collaborators. Two of Nina's songs have recently been included on a new album by German cellist Wolfram Hushcke, released on BMG Classics. The album also features songs by Marianne Faithful and Mimi Goese. She recently collaborated on an album with French avant-garde producer Hector Zazou and toured Europe singing with the pianist/composer and former 4AD artist Harold Budd. Nina was also fortunate enough to be invited on stage to sing with the late Jeff Buckley during his very last visit to Belfast.

Her next collaboration comes in the form of re-mixes of two of her songs; Bass Odyssey (Quadraphonic) and Basic (Kitchen Records - U2's new dance imprint) have each re-mixed a song from Creation. Listen for the results on a dance floor near you.

Nina popped into WLRfm following her set at the Hogshead recently and joined me on the Irish Music Programme.

Nina was born in Dublin and has been singing for most of her life. It could be said that she is one of a new breed of singers who are using the Internet to sell her wares and, hopefully, land that elusive big recording contract. So far the Internet has served her well.

Nina Hynes:

Yes. So far there have been 10,000 downloads of This Magic Stuff [a song from her current CD Creation] and that is just one site. We have about seven sites where the song can be downloaded from and they all have been doing well.

Was Creation your first release?

We have been gigging around for years but, yes this is our first release. Not only can the CD be bought on line but of course it is also available in the shops also so it's like a bit of everything.

Nina and the band have also been to the States.

Yes we have been over there a few times, Texas and New York. I love it, it's wide open. The Americans are very open to Irish people in general so when you go over there they are going to listen to you before you even start. We are not your typical Irish band. Listening to us you could not say 'That is an Irish band'. The band is very trippy. We are not a straightforward pop thing. It's like some songs are a bit poppy but then some of it is very wacky and out there and some of it is kinda folky. It's very mixed.

Nina's voice has been likened to that of Bjork.

Yes I have heard that. She has a great voice. Its been likened to a lot of people, The Cocteau Twins, Sinead O'Connor. It depends on the song. P.J.Harvey also.

Nina's voice has a more commercial edge, more so than some of the aforementioned singers. Is 'commercial' a dirty word for Nina?

Oh no it's not a dirty word no. I'd like to see the paybacks a bit more. If my voice IS commercial, I'd love to see it coming back to me!

What kind of music did Nina listen to as she was growing up?

Growing up I listened to a hell of a lot of stuff. I have five brothers and four sisters and there was a huge record collection, from the Beatles to Gary Numan to The Doors. When I was eight I was really into the Doors. I grew up living over a pub also and there was also traditional Irish music being played. I used to sing with my mother as well. Then I got into jazz and a load of strange stuff like wacky jazz and world music. Then it was onto people like Jeff Buckley.

Is music something that she always wanted to do?

No. It's just something that I ended up doing. I have always sung and I have always enjoyed it but I never thought of it as a career. A few years ago I simply decided that this was what I enjoyed doing the most so I may as well focus on this because I didn't get the same buzz from other things. I was into photography and acting and I wanted to make films but I found myself doing music more and more.

Are you surprised at the speed your career has elevated?

It feels kind of natural because until you release something people don't really take you seriously and I was gigging around for a few years mostly in Dublin and in the last few years with a band. We developed a following and now there is a strong following. Any time we play Whelans we just pack it out and the fans are great. Really quiet and listening.

Nina is now in the States and will return to record new material and will return to the States again in September. When she plays Waterford again do yourself a favour and make sure you get to see her.

Nina Hynes at Reverb Records
Nina Hynes at the Open Directory Project

Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show on WLRfm
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Last updated 2 July 2002

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Interviews from Roddy Cleere's Irish Music Show