Shirley Callaghan Gives Insight About Her Career And Two Latest Singles

Interviewed by Duzzy Clayton 


Ladies and Gentleman, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, one of the best musicians to come out of Ireland since The Cranberries, I first became aware of Shirley Callaghan when she sent me her music to play on my radio show, I was captivated by the first song namely Ice Queen, her voice was just so mesmoerizing and inspiring that took me on musical journey, I offered her to send me another track, but in my head I had sheepsihly made my mind up that Ice Queen was going to be my favorurite track from her, well, after hearing her latest single Safety Deposite Box, I was then torn between the two tracks of which one is my favoutrite, one is as good as the other and equally are great tracks. I am im in love with them both and cannot wait to hear what else comes out from this awesome muscian. 


I catch up with Shirley to talk about these two tracks and find out more about my new favourtiter artist 

Enjoy The Read



Hi Shirley, welcome to Fanbase Music Magazine, can you tell us where you are from and what got you into music?

Firstly, I’d like to say thank you so much for having me, and for playing my songs on your show. It was such a great feeling to hear Safety Deposit Box having its first spin on radio in South Africa.

I am from Shannon, County Clare, Ireland born in London to Irish parents. We moved back to Ireland when I was about 2 years old. I was into music as far back as I can remember, in Junior School I was always involved in plays and music, and played the tin whistle and the accordion at a very young age.

Did you come from a musical background?

Yes, my grandfather in Kerry played the fiddle and my uncle also played the accordion and concertina. There was also music on my father’s side in County Clare. We used to go to Kerry when we were children for the summer months and that’s where we learned to play traditional music growing up. We also spent a lot of time in Barefield, Ennis, County Clare where my father’s parents lived. They were originally from Maghera, Inagh but moved to Ennis when he was quite young.

There was a strong connection of music from my father’s side. In their household my grandfather had a very strong love for traditional music and dancing. My father used to tell me there was a lot of music, dancing and storytelling in his house growing up too, that would be my great grandparents.

We also listened to my mother’s country music collection and I remember writing out all the words of songs and then sing them around the house. At that time we only had a cassette player to record, so we would record our favourite songs from the radio. We had our own make believe band as children, where we would sing and pretend we were a band. They were very funny times and lots of fun.

Can you explain your genre of music?

I think it’s difficult to describe your own music as I don’t consciously sit down to write a particular style of music. Having said that, it has been described as dark folk, indie, rock.

What sort of bands and musicians were listening to as a teen and even today?

As a child I was influenced by traditional and country music, but as a teenager I discovered artists such as Blondie, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Kate Bush, Pink Floyd, David Bowie. This opened up a whole new world for me. Top of the Pops also came along. Now I’m giving away my age lol It was around this time that I started to move away from playing trad music and discovered pop music and folk.

As a young teenager, when I first heard Bob Dylan I was mesmerised by his lyrics and melodies, and how he seemed to adore and romanticise about whoever he was singing to. I just thought his songs were so beautiful, and the rawness in his voice was so powerful. One of the first and favourites of his albums was ‘Desire’. It still has that same impact when I hear it. As I got a little older, I then discovered artists like Leonard Cohen, Sinead O’Connor, PJ Harvey, REM and just fell in love with that style of music and songs.

Do you think the music you are influenced by determines the music you writing today?

Yes, I think as a young teenager first discovering singers like Kate Bush and Sinead O’Connor also had a strong impact on me. I was swept away on the discovery of all this new music. Other artists The Cars, Marillion, Led Zeppelin. I just loved them.

You are a solo musician, do you have a backup band?

I have some friends who play music and we get together on occasion, but we are not a band as such. It is something I would like to do down the road, but for now I’m happy to perform with vocals and piano/guitar, and am looking forward to getting back into playing live music.

It has been very busy the last two months with promoting my first single ‘Ice Queen’ and now the second single ‘Safety Deposit Box’ which was released in February, so I am trying to promote that song too. Learning the business side of music can be time consuming and a lot of work. I am however getting back into playing music and singing, so it is great to get back to actual music. I also have a lot of new ideas for songs, which I am looking forward to working on.

Before we talk about your latest single, I want to touch on the previous single you sent me namely Ice Queen, can you tell us what the song is about?

It wasn’t a conscious decision to write this song. It just kind of wrote itself. At first, a melody and lyric came along and I just started writing it all down. Lots of ideas, words, a story line. Also, I think that if you are going through something, this can manifest itself in your writing. that together with what’s going on around us. Sometimes I don’t actually know what I’m talking about until the song starts to appear, then I think ok, this is what I’m trying to say. After that, I go back in and try to craft the lyrics and put some form of structure to the song. I think some songs just need to be written and I felt the story was important.

Paul Statham my producer, also helped me with the chorus. We changed it up from minor to major so that lifted the chorus quite a bit. His production also added real magic to the song.

Ice Queen is really about dread, darkness, anxiety about the future, the way people behave. A good friend of mine, who worked as a nurse in a hospital during Covid, said to me ‘humanity has changed, people are full of fear and are really out for themselves now.’ I thought this was such a profound thing to say, but I also thought it felt true at the time. It made sense.

I do myself feel that there is a real lack of empathy and compassion in the world right now. Maybe Covid brought it to the surface. Maybe it has always been there. I’m no expert but this is what I have seen.

We are seeing unjust wars, lack of vision, shallowness, and failure to address the route of problems which are causing this chaos. Not alone our leaders, but there appears to be a lot of people just sailing through life causing destruction everywhere they go and they don’t seem to care either. This is where I think people should address their own issues, rather than shedding chaos, and I don’t mean that through medication or taking pills, I mean that is what therapy is for. I just feel that the world seems to be run by ego right now, with very little self reflection. It’s so much easier to project our problems on to others, blame everything outside of ourselves and never look in, so to speak. The people in power making the big decisions right now seem to be full of fear. Courage is what’s needed not fear. That isn’t really much good to us.

Where was it recorded and who worked on it?

After Covid, when my father passed away, I turned his bedroom into a little studio so that’s where I do my recording. I recorded the vocal and piano and sent the tracks to Paul who produced it. It was just me and Paul who worked on the track. As independent artists, we are very lucky right now that we don’t have to go into a studio to record our music.

Okay, let’s talk about the new single Safety Deposit Box, Can you tell us how that song came about and what is the song about?

This song was written around the same time as Ice Queen, so the theme of is similar. It’s really about a bully, bad behaviour, often with a strong sense of entitlement (I actually have a song called Bad Behaviour but it’s not released yet). And also the ego plays such a huge role. In the world we live in there appears to be no repercussions, and no fall out for this type of behaviour, so most of the time the bully gets away with it. They just appear to do whatever they want, and to them, they are always right, even when they know in truth, they are not. It’s kind of like a’little criminal’ who struts through life in a grandiose fashion, and as a friend said to me ‘the birth of an omen’, their dark side just appears out of nowhere I don’t think we are advanced enough yet to call these people out. What you can’t see you can’t change. I find it fascinating it just gets swept under the carpet. No one wants to know about it, so it’s easier to just turn a blind eye. This can be very difficult for the victim who can sometimes get brushed aside. A lot of narcissistic people even manage to turn those close to you, against you, and even if these people know it’s not true, the villain gets protected and even loved more. I wonder sometimes is this an attempt to protect the perpetrator, who at times, can be seen as a hero. It’s all so false and so unfair. They can just rally around collecting people to turn against you. It’s really hurtful, but unfortunately that’s how it is.

I also find it fascinating that even if those in power are aware of a particular situation, it can still get swept under the carpet. Also, they can be very charming and charismatic and they seem to truly believe they are caring people, when in reality they really don’t care. This kind of manipulation can be shocking and cause a lot of hurt and damage.

So this song is an attempt to call out the bully, to highlight this type of behaviour and to try and say it as it is. It’s not a made up story. It is not possible for any creative person to make this stuff up. It’s real. It comes from an authentic place inside of you, so it’s not made up. It’s not written to hurt anyone. That is not the intention of the song. It’s been said, an artist’s job, is to highlight and talk about important subjects that are not talked about. I feel this is not talked about enough. Unfortunately, in the world we live in, the victim can at times be labeled the villain. It’s all messed up and I think it’s very wrong.

Having said that, the song is not all doom and gloom. I think there is also a sense of optimism in this song. After a victim is bullied and realises they are being bullied, and you don’t have to put up with this behaviour, you can learn to deal with it, and heal yourself. It is not all autobiographical but I do know a little about it lol

What was the recording process like while recording it?

After writing the song, I had a meeting with my producer, Paul Statham and we went through the lyrics and the music and discussed what direction the song should take. As I mentioned earlier, as with Ice Queen, I recorded the vocals and piano at home, and then sent the tracks to Paul. That’s how we work. Paul works on the production and sends the songs back to me. There is really very little back and forth. I think he just gets what I’m trying to do. He gets my music, and that’s why it works.

It is important to find the right producer, who gets your music and what you are trying to do. The important thing is having a producer, who’s work you like. How do you know if you have the right producer. The answer is simply, if you like what the producer does with your song, then that’s your answer.

Who else worked on the track?

Just myself and Paul.

How long did it take you to write the song?

Not long. As soon as I decided to go with this song, the lyrics came fairly quickly. I sometimes write a lot of lyrics, then edit it. I also did some research about narcissistic behaviour and incorporated that into the song. The difficult part is editing, having to narrow it down.

Will you be releasing an album or just singles at the moment?

Right now, I’m planning to release more singles, but definitely I would like to release a full album. I know a lot of people are listening to music online now, but there’s nothing quite like holding an album in your hand and reading the lyrics while you’re listening to the music. It’s a whole different experience. You don’t get that from streaming. It’s just not the same.

When you write music, what comes first, the lyrics or the music, can you explain the process from start to finish of writing music?

I think the best ideas come when you don’t expect them. Sometimes an idea can jump out at you from nowhere, it can be something someone says, something you read, a title of a book, something that strikes you or hits a chord, even listening to other people’s music can inspire you. Any of those things can cause a spark, that’s the start of the writing process for me. Generally when a lyric and melody come at the same time. I think it’s important to catch these little nuggets straight away, because they are fleeting and you won’t remember them. I try to record the idea into my phone so that I can come back to it later. To add another layer to it, if I am near a guitar or a piano, I do try to record with some music behind it. I think it makes the idea more solid and easier to come back to. I find the ideas that I record with just a voice are not as strong as those I record with an instrument.

I generally come back later, pick an idea from my phone (if I haven’t decided on a song to work on), then go from there.

I try to pick the one I like the most, then work on that song.

Do you play live and what is a typical show like?

Right now, I’m trying to promote the two songs I have released but I have started getting back to playing music, so I hope to be playing live in the next few months. I will be playing at Cosmic Gardens Festival, Inagh, County Clare in June this year, and I am really looking forward to that. I am also giving some thought to joining up with other musicians, maybe guitar, bass and drums but I am also happy to play live with just vocal and piano. That’s what I do myself, so bringing some more musicians on board should just add to a live show. I think a band would also make it a little more exciting, but right now I am working with vocal and piano for some songs and guitar for others. I am looking forward to taking that out live.

Thank you for doing this interview, do you have any last messages for our readers?

Just keep writing and keep listening to what’s going on around you if you are a songwriter. There are song ideas everywhere. and to remember that when the magic comes along, it doesn’t stay very long, so it’s important to catch these nuggets of inspiration straight away. That’s where the seed of my songs come from. That’s where the magic lies. I just think that’s where the best work comes from.

I do hope to release the third single over the next few weeks, with an EP/Album later in the year and I’m looking forward to playing more live shows.

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