Following the release of her brand new album Celtic Purple, we caught up with musician and composer Cady Finlayson to find out more about the project and her journey so far as an artist. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Cady – thanks for the interview! What can you tell us about the making of Celtic Purple, what does this album mean for you?
I loved making Celtic Purple. It’s that moment when you look at your life and all your influences and it seems like a mishmash – but when you put it all together it makes sense.
We made the CD at Big Orange Sheep Studio in Brooklyn. Vita would ride his bike over – he always brought French pastries – and we’d try all sorts of guitar sounds and ideas. Our engineer, Chris Benham, spent many hours with us, working on each tune until it was just right. Chris’s good spirits and those French pastries made it especially fun. In the end, it’s very freeing to experiment and to have a nice space to do that. To me, Celtic Purple is the excitement of a new beginning.
What is it about traditional music of this nature that appeals or connects with you on such a passionate level?
I love the melodies in traditional Celtic music. I love the dance feel that happens too, but what really drives me are those beautiful melodies. They’re happy and sad and hopeful, just like life.
How did you come to choose which tracks you wanted to feature on this project?
I fall in love with a melody and I have to play it. I play it constantly and put it on my “record someday” list. When it’s time for the studio I have a huge list of pieces and the ones that make the cut are the ones I can’t live without. Sometimes I’ll see the album needs a particular type of tune. If can’t find the ideal tune, I will go ahead and write that tune. New Moon March was an example of that. I wanted something to signify new beginnings and I wrote that tune looking toward the future. The tracks that ended up on Celtic Purple were mostly the melodies I felt I couldn’t live without.
What does the term Celtic Purple represent for you?
I’ve loved purple since I was a little girl. I painted my room purple, with a purple rug and purple curtains-and I wore purple all the time. It was my way of putting my own stamp on something. I feel the same way about Celtic Purple. I love those traditional Celtic melodies and I love to play with them -that’s the purple part. I’m adding all sorts of influences. It’s still Celtic – it’s not always the traditional green we associate with Ireland – but it comes with great respect for that tradition. Celtic Purple represents my love of Celtic melodies with my own stamp on them. I call it “Celtic Purple – a new shade of green”.
You’ve already performed at some impressive venues – what has been one of your most memorable or life-changing moments on stage?
I played at a rehab center in New York where the patients were completely still – catatonic almost. They‘d been given these rhythm instruments and they were holding them like statues and not moving at all. I played Down by the Sally Garden, which is a beautiful slow melody and they all started shaking their tambourines at once, like something had woken up inside them. Music has that power to heal – I saw it at the center and I’ve seen it while playing memorial concerts for 9/11. I was playing with the Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County at Carnegie Hall and I was surrounded on stage by bagpipers. That mournful bagpipe sound says it all. Those vibrations go through you and you give yourself up to the music – and it helps. I’ll never forget those moments.
If you could perform at any venue or event in the world, which would you choose, and why?
There are so many venues and festivals internationally that choosing one is tricky. I recently went to a concert at Zankel Hall, which is the one of the venues of Carnegie Hall that highlights world music. The space was intimate and elegant, the sound was excellent and the ushers were welcoming. I could see a beautiful Celtic Purple show there so I’m going to choose Zankel!
What are your main hopes or ambitions over the coming months and years?
I have a dream show. It’s one that takes spirited and soulful Celtic music and combines it with global guitar sounds and percussion. It includes music, dance and a media element with videos and spoken word. My hope over the coming year is to harness the energy and talents of my colleagues – to build something really special.
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
I have a therapy pig! It’s a toy pig my sister got me to help me get through my physics class.
Where do you imagine is the best setting for people to listen to this album?
There was a woman who bought my Irish Coffee CD years ago who told me it was great music to clean to, and she had cleaned her entire house the day she bought it. That made me laugh, but I think the best setting to listen is different for everyone. For Celtic Purple, I could see a sunset sail with a nice glass of wine while listening.
Is there anything else we should know?
Thank you for the interview. I appreciate people taking the time to listen to the music. I have a mailing list at celticfiddle.com for anyone who would like to keep up with the latest projects. I’ve also been creating TV shows at Brooklyn Free Speech. My show is “A Fiddle Around Town” and I hope to share some more soon.
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