- 12 May 21
As part of our special feature on the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish music industry, Moya Brennan shares her experiences, and looks to the future...
How has the impact of Covid-19 affected you and your business?
The biggest impact was the cancellation of Clannad’s world tour. This was to be our last one as a band and it’s uncertain whether all the commitments can be fulfilled. Income has effectively stopped – income from record sales has become insignificant in recent years, so live concerts have been the mainstay of most musicians’ income.
What is the worst aspect of it all for you?
Mentally, it frazzles your brain. It’s thrown the whole work process out of kilter. We can record, which can be expensive, but not knowing when you might be able to showcase new songs makes it very difficult.
Did you have to let staff go?
Many crew members – stage musicians, sound and lighting technicians, roadies, drivers, tour managers – have had to be let go. I feel for them a lot.
People with high rent or with large borrowings have been worst hit. How have you been?
It affects finances across the board. It’s been far more difficult to cover mortgages and bills.
Some people have been finding it hard to survive. Is that something you’ve encountered?
Thankfully, I’ve been in the music business for 50 years, so I can deal with a certain amount of ups and downs. But this is my career and livelihood and it’s been hit very badly.
Music is a people business – how has the loss of contact with staff, colleagues or with others in the business affected you?
Thank goodness for Zoom – and similar – to keep us in touch. But it’s not the same, as creative people love hanging out together. I run Clubeo, a monthly open-stage night in Donegal, and that has been shelved for over a year now. It concerns me greatly that the aspiring, young songwriters and musicians in that area have no platform to experience the excitement and feedback of playing live.
Were you in a position to try anything new or different?
It has opened the door to people being able to work together remotely. I have enjoyed being part of the hugely successful Women In Harmony collective and particularly seeing younger female artists gaining recognition. Also, being included in Hot Press’s Rave On Van Morrison celebration – along with other collaborative projects (Trance Wax, DMC) – has helped to sustain some sense of achievement.
Mental health has been a huge issue for a lot of people involved in music. How has your experience been in that regard?
I was blessed to be in Donegal during the first lockdown, so there was some freedom for me and Tim to enjoy nature and open spaces. I also turned to painting for the first time since my youth, which I enjoy. During the lockdown this year, it has been much harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How important is it to you to get back to work?
Although I’ve had a long career I’m not planning on stopping yet, so it’s vital to get back out there.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
I have to be optimistic for myself and my kids. One thing that has come out of this crisis has been seeing how much people have missed music and creativity, so the appreciation of what we do as artists is to be cherished as we go forward.
• Moya Brennan is a solo artist and lead singer with Clannad.
'Music Industry in Ireland: Where To Next?' is a special feature in the current issue of Hot Press, running to over 20 pages, featuring music industry professionals as well as artists including Moya Brennan, Jess Kav, Luka Bloom, Fia Moon, Kneecap, Gavin Glass, Mick Flannery, King Kong Company, Mary Coughlan, Rosie Carney and many more.