UNA HEALY...

Best known as a singer with suc­cess­ful girl band The Satur­days, and also as a TV judge on The Voice, singer­song­writer UNA HEALY has waited a long time to re­lease a solo al­bum, but The Wait­ing Game is fi­nally over… and out.

Hot Press - - Contents - IN­TER­VIEW OLAF TYARANSEN

The Tipp pop star sounds off about her ex­cel­lent new solo record, life post-The Satur­days and fu­ture cre­ative am­bi­tions.

HOT PRESS MEETS UNA HEALY in the bar of a south Dublin ho­tel the af­ter­noon af­ter her de­but Ir­ish head­line show as a solo artist. The at­trac­tive 35-year-old is still buzzing from the warm re­cep­tion she re­ceived in the Su­gar Club.

“It went bril­liantly, I loved ev­ery minute of it,” she en­thuses, speak­ing in a soft Tip­per­ary ac­cent. “The crowd were re­ally be­hind me and it’s just lovely to have that re­sponse for what was a bit of a home­com­ing gig, for my first head­line show.”

The venue it­self also brought back some mem­o­ries. “I ac­tu­ally played there in 2005 when I sup­ported this duo called Sons of Jim,” she re­calls. “The rea­son why they were called Sons of Jim was be­cause both their dads were called Jim.

And one of them is Jamie Dor­nan from 50 Shades. He was a model, mu­si­cian, ac­tor and I think he got strongly into act­ing af­ter that.

“But it’s so funny be­cause my song ‘An­gel Like You’ is on the

Mum’s List sound­track,” she con­tin­ues. “I was in the rolling ti­tles. But his wife Amelia [Warner], she wrote the score for the film. We were at the pre­miere and he came up to me and was like, ‘Re­mem­ber me?’ And I was like, ‘Uh… yeah!’ Any­way it re­minded me of do­ing the mu­sic scene that I was at be­fore. It’s like start­ing all over again, re­ally.”

We’re meet­ing to­day to dis­cuss Una’s just re­leased de­but solo al­bum, The Wait­ing Game. A col­lec­tion of unashamedly

“I dropped out of col­lege a cou­ple of times be­cause all I wanted to do was mu­sic.”

jaunty, coun­try-tinged pop ballads, it’s so ti­tled be­cause she’s been wait­ing a very long time to make it. Orig­i­nally from Thurles, she started off in her teens play­ing with a lo­cal band called Un­real be­fore up­ping sticks and head­ing to the big smoke to try to make it as a solo artist.

“I dropped out of col­lege a cou­ple of times be­cause all I wanted to do was mu­sic,” she ex­plains. “So my mom said, ‘Give the mu­sic five years and see what hap­pens, you can al­ways go back to col­lege as a ma­ture stu­dent’. So I went off and bought the PA sys­tem, the whole mix­ing disk and the speak­ers, and lit­er­ally phoned up any venue that did live mu­sic and said, ‘Can you give me a chance? I’ll even do one for free to see what you think?’”

Her mother’s sup­port­ive at­ti­tude wasn’t all that sur­pris­ing given that Una’s un­cle is famed coun­try and western singer De­clan Ner­ney.

“Well, he was kinda warn­ing me off to be hon­est,” she ad­mits. “He was like, ‘You know it’s a hard road’, but he’s still do­ing it and do­ing it re­ally well. I ob­vi­ously re­ally value his opin­ion, so of­ten I would send him the demos to see what he would think, and he would give me his hon­est feed­back.”

Hav­ing scraped a rea­son­able liv­ing on the live cir­cuit for a time, Healy ul­ti­mately wound up in Lon­don in the sum­mer of 2007, au­di­tion­ing for a new girl band. She got the gig. A se­ri­ous suc­cess in Ire­land and the UK, The Satur­days sold over five mil­lion al­bums over the course of the next seven years.

They’ve been on hia­tus since 2014, but will The Satur­days be mak­ing a come­back at any stage?

“We don’t know yet, to be hon­est,” she shrugs, look­ing doubt­ful. “There’s no talk of it yet. We felt we’d reached that point where we all wanted to do our own thing, but we’re all still very much in touch. Two of the girls were at my show in Lon­don the other night, and it was nice to have that sup­port – it means an aw­ful lot to me that they were there. The other two couldn’t make it, but they would have and they were like, ‘I’m so sorry I can’t make it!’ They were busy. Yeah, so it’s good to keep in touch, and maybe one day we will, but there’s no plans.”

While Healy re­mained anx­ious to re­lease a solo al­bum, life kept get­ting in the way. The singer mar­ried rugby player Ben Fo­den in 2012 and they have two young chil­dren. She also landed a judg­ing gig on The Voice of Ire­land.

“I’ve been very busy es­pe­cially with a hus­band and two young kids,” she ex­plains. “But Tadhg is two now, and Aoife is go­ing on five. My hus­band’s a rugby player and he’s work­ing as well. So I wanted to be at home and look af­ter my chil­dren and just lit­er­ally be a house­wife for a while… and then just do the song­writ­ing along­side that. But yeah, I’m to­tally ex­cited about be­ing out there again.”

Una wrote with some of the world’s most ac­claimed song­writ­ers and pro­duc­ers on the al­bum, in­clud­ing Grammy-win­ner Amy Wadge, Ben Earle from The Shires, Nick Atkin­son, Jack McManus and Sacha Skar­bek (who penned songs for the likes of Lana Del Ray and Ja­son Mraz). The forth­com­ing sin­gle, ‘Stay My Love’, is a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sam Pal­la­dio, star of the hit TV se­ries Nashville.

Hav­ing waited so long to be a solo artist again, Una is proud of The Wait­ing

Game and re­lieved that it’s fi­nally out there.

“It’s all about my feel­ings and it’s very re­lat­able I feel,” she ex­plains. “I like ev­ery song to tell a story and con­vey an emo­tion that peo­ple can go, ‘Oh, that’s me!’ It’s very re­lat­able. I like catchy hooks, cho­ruses, and I also love writ­ing pop songs. I like a good opener first to get you into it and then a real hook at the cho­rus.

“I try not to be to down be­cause a lot of the singer-song­writ­ers can be a lit­tle bit de­press­ing. So it’s quite a pos­i­tive al­bum, even my phi­los­o­phy in it. ‘The Wait­ing Game’, for in­stance, is a song all about life and how it has its ups and downs… that’s just life. Try and be as pos­i­tive as you can to over­come the bad times.”

Hope­fully there won’t be too many of those ahead…

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