- 16 Aug 21
Kilkenny native Ali Comerford has returned to writing for herself after years spent playing in classical orchestras across the world. Here, she talks about her debut album 'Knots'.
If you had to describe your sound in a few words, what would you say?
I would say it’s folk music, but the strings can give it a classical twist sometimes.
How has playing in orchestras helped you in working as a solo musician?
Playing in a symphony orchestra is an incredible feeling. When you’re on stage and there’s 100 of you, it can be very easy to feel lost, like your part doesn’t mean anything, but it does. It takes every player on that stage to commit fully to the music to create something unique. But that also means that you are spending years committing to other people’s musical vision, and that can take its toll.
I think that’s why I took back all of the creative control with Knots. I wrote, played and produced everything on the album. I needed to know that this was 100% me. I am very grateful for my experience with orchestral and chamber playing, because I have a massive respect for the small things that contribute to something being great.
You lived in New York for a while. What was it like returning home to rural Ireland after that experience?
New York was incredible and crazy all rolled into one. There was no down time. As a musician trying to pay extortionate rent, I was teaching violin and piano students during the day, then rehearsing with different orchestras and groups in the evening, and usually playing two or three gigs at the weekend. It wasn’t until I had to come back to Kilkenny for the pandemic that I was forced to look around me.
Up until then, whenever I visited, I had my return flight booked and it was just about seeing family. But with Covid, I had to be still for the first time since leaving at 18. I suddenly saw just how beautiful our country really is, how there is an incredibly supportive community of people – and that when I finally stopped moving, home had been here waiting for me all along.
Listen to the album below.