Well known musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire talks to us about life, happiness and rock and roll. Colm is originally from Dublin and lives in County Wexford with his wife Sheila and their two children, Oisín and Darach. Colm is a founder member of Kila and has been a member of renowned Irish Indie rockers The Frames for the past 25 years. He has released two acclaimed solo albums, The Hare's Corner, And Now The Weather. He plays Vicar Street, Dublin on December 17th (tickets) his website is colmmacconiomaire.com and Twitter is @cmacconiomaire
1. Do you remember the first time you held a violin? Did you have an immediate connection?
I remember when I was very young, being envious of my older sister and her violin. I remember liking the packaging – the case and its clasps and the little pocket inside for the rosin and the spare strings. I am told that I used to sing along when she was practicing her pieces and so my parents got me a violin when I was seven.
2. What does your creative process look like? Do you have a general pattern as to how the new music comes through you?
Over the years I realised that it helps to be ready at all times. With that in mind I have a voice app on my phone that’s full of whistled and sung melodies and ideas. Inspiration can often strike through a phone call or an email, be that in the form of a commission or of a collaboration. That’s often followed by an extended bout of procrastination, gardening, thinking etc. Lots of hovering on the edge, before the inevitable plunge into the music. What I used to regard as procrastination though, I now recognise as preparation.
3. How has the creation of music impacted on your own well-being and state of mind?
I like the idea that music is the only known antidote to gravity. I’ve spent most of my adult life in music and am much the better for it. My own wellbeing is intrinsic to my creative output. Both go together. It isn’t possible for me to write music without investing in it emotionally and as a result burn-out and exhaustion can be a danger, especially when gruelling travel schedules and project deadlines coincide.
4. You have recently released your second record ‘And now the weather’, how has it felt to be putting out your own solo work into the world, rather than as part of a band with The Frames?
With the release of this album I feel like I’ve found my groove. I’ve spent the past ten years tuning in my own channel. ‘When the pupil is ready the teacher appears’. I’ve benefitted and learned a huge amount from working for so long and so closely with the wonderful musicians in The Frames. It feels to me though that my work with them was very much my musical apprenticeship. And now the Weather.
5. What do you do to look after yourself? In times of stress, what works for you?
I cook. I meditate. I write. I walk. I talk. I parent.
6. Where does happiness come from?
My happiness comes from being at home with my wife Sheila and our two boys. Of course being creative and expressing that creativity keeps me in the light too! Happiness is like a wave on a sea of inner stillness and peace. Much like music, it’s a capricious thing. I try to cultivate my own stillness as much as possible.
7. Your music has a feeling of a deep connection to Ireland and its landscape. Is Ireland herself, a muse for you or what is your greatest inspiration?
Yes indeed, I have a very strong connection to this magical Island of ours. I love Ireland. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. I’ve spent much of the past twenty years touring all over the world and coming home still remains the best part of going away. More and more though, I find that inspiration is a by-product of preparation. All I can do is to try to create and maintain the conditions for the butterfly to land.
8. Some might say that to be an artist in its truest sense, is to be in a state of flow. Are you in flow most of the time, or in glimpses here and there? What can we do, to help ourselves get into that state of flow, do you think?
Recognising flow when it’s in progress is key. Creating the conditions for, and maintaining flow is where the art comes in. It’s crucial to ground the lightning otherwise it manifests as static and disturbance. Paul Mc Cartney very wisely once said ‘You don’t work music, you play music.’ Maintaining a ‘lightness’ is important. A sense of play, exploration and wonder is crucial, not to mention the ability to suspend judgement!
9. What is the best think about being a musician?
Getting to do what you love is a great privilege. Having said that, I have always been of the view that it is one of life’s most important tasks, to discover our purpose. There’s a terrific quote I read by the American author Frederic Buechener which pretty much nails it for me;
‘Purpose is the place where your deepest gladness meets the world’s needs’.
Music is a joy to me – and to others.
10. What is your sense of Ireland at the moment? What is your hope for the country?
I feel that Ireland as a country, has just come through puberty, with all of the worry, acne, upheaval and chaos that entails. Ireland is now a young adult full of promise with a deep and wonderful ancestral memory/legacy to nourish and guide its path forward. Its future will depend on nurturing and cultivating its vibrant and diverse communities and ignoring its narrow politics and opportunist politicians. The politicians will always follow the people. Let the people lead.
Let us embrace our strengths, welcome strangers, listen to our youth and ‘mind’ our elders.
Colm plays Vicar Street Dublin on Thursday December 17th. Tickets via Ticketmaster.
You can purchase his albums, complete with personalised messages, directly from Colm’s website.