- 21 Jul 20
We caught up with Lisa McHugh ahead of her Saturday Songs From An Empty Room gig at the INEC in Killarney. Songs From An Empty Room will be live streaming on RTÉ 2fm and the RTÉ Player from 8.30pm on Saturday, July 25th.
Lisa McHugh was born and raised in Glasgow, to Irish parents. She fell in love with Country music at an early age, and has rapidly ascended the ladder as an incredible up-and-coming pop-country artist. McHugh's latest single, 'You're Gonna Get Back Up' is a radio-ready anthem about redemption and resilience. We spoke with the 32-year-old musician about Songs From An Empty Room and the importance of crews and technicians in music.
Do you remember the first concert you ever attended?
I have been to so many concerts over the years, and I’m sure my parents brought me to some when I was young but the one that really stands out for me was a concert in (what is now) the Hydro in Glasgow. I went to see an American Country girl group called the Dixie Chicks (now known as The Chicks). My older cousin was a huge American country fan – like me – and asked me to go with her to the show. I was around 13 I think, and the excitement that concert and show gave me literally had me buzzing for days after it! I’ll never forget it!
Have you ever been to a show at the venue you’re performing in?
I actually took part in an Irish Dancing competition in the Gleneagle when I was around 11. So strange to think I’ve been back so many times since performing my own shows! I had no idea back then!
What’s your most vivid memory of the venue (as a fan or a performer!)?
My most vivid memory of The INEC was when I brought my concert tour there and the day before I was performing in London at an event alongside Kodaline, Beoga, Johnny McDaid and so many other incredible artists. I slept in for my flight home to Dublin and I’ll never forget being terrified that I wasn’t going to get back in time for the show in Killarney that night. Thankfully I did (by the skin of my teeth) and it was one of the best nights of the tour, the atmosphere was incredible!
What is the best thing about performing for a live audience?
There is no feeling like performing for a live audience, the adrenaline and buzz you get from it really is indescribable. Unless you are a performer or musician you truly cannot understand the feeling. There is literally nothing in this world I love to do or enjoy doing more than performing.
If you could have one other job in music, what would it be?
I would probably be a backing singer. I am obsessed with harmonies! That’s all I do when I’m singing along to songs either in the car or at home, I find the harmony lines and sing along as loud as I can!
Songs From An Empty Room aims to support Irish technicians and crew. Any thoughts on the disruption of their world in the pandemic?
I’m unsure anyone fully understands the impact that this pandemic has had on their lives. They are the ones who have the longest hours on the road, at the venue setting up and taking down and are normally the first there and last to leave any gig. Without them, we would be unable to perform on these huge stages, with the full PA system, and lighting, etc. They are the ones that make all of that happen and make the show happen. Our job is easy, we walk out and perform for a couple of hours and our job's done. And because they have such long hours, late nights and early rises, it means that they are physically unable to have another day job. So they have no insurance policy to fall back on. If there are no gigs, there’s no wage to pay their mortgage, provide for their family and I’m sure the last 5 months have been absolutely terrifying for all of them.
These gigs will benefit Minding Creative Minds: is mental health an issue that concerns you?
Absolutely, mental health is something that is incredibly important to everyone these days. In years gone by, it wasn’t necessarily a topic that was openly spoke about for fear that people would judge you so much which in my opinion is so sad. I think it’s fantastic that people can open up more now and that there are so many ways of seeking and providing help nowadays for people who are struggling.
Which would you rather (and why!): festival or concert?
That’s a tough one, I’d probably say concert though. I feel like if people are coming to see you in concert they are choosing to spend their hard earned money on you specifically. They are interested and want to hear your music, your stories and just enjoy the show you put on. Whereas at a festival there are possibly a number of acts on and not everyone is there necessarily for you so it can be harder to fully connect and engage with the audience.
Most recent Irish record you've loved?
Picture this by Picture This – obsessed!
What’s next for you?
Lots more new music and I’m really looking forward to getting back on stage and doing tours and festivals ASAP! I have everything crossed, for everyone’s sake, that it’ll be so much sooner than we think!
Check out the full line up for Songs From An Empty Room below.