In Con­ver­sa­tion

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS - Maria Doyle Kennedy and Sinead Glee­son

Sinead: Why do you think you’ve ended up do­ing what you do? MDK: I think that I sing be­cause it is al­most the eas­i­est thing that I do. I don’t think when I’m singing. Every­thing else I do, I got there through singing. Singing brought me to all those other places. Sinead: I was al­ways a reader, but then I spent four years pretty much in hospi­tal as a teenager, and my read­ing went up to ninja level and I’ve been ob­sessed with books ever since, so it seems like a re­ally ob­vi­ous thing that I would work around books. I talked about be­ing a writer for years and didn’t do it for var­i­ous rea­sons. I love books, I spent all my money on nov­els. When I did journalism I man­aged to turn my hob­bies into my job. MDK: I think de­sire has to have some­thing to do with it as well. That it’s what you want to do more than any­thing. Some­how you find a way to fuel it. Sinead: What do you think is a dom­i­nant char­ac­ter­is­tic of the other? MDK: I think you’re very op­ti­mistic. Sinead: You’re in­cred­i­bly kind, thought­ful around other peo­ple. You help peo­ple out a lot. I al­ways feel very re­laxed around you. You’re very chill. MDK: Thank you! I think I’m a trier. Do­ers do things and get them done, and I don’t al­ways get them done, but I try. MDK: When did you last cry? Sinead: I wrote a piece about my god­mother. MDK: That was beau­ti­ful. Sinead: It’s hard to write about very per­sonal things some­times, but you also have to switch off a part of your brain so you can do it. Ev­ery sin­gle time I wrote a draft or edit it, I would lit­er­ally sit at my com­puter and bawl. I never had that with a piece of writ­ing at all. MDK: I cry of­ten. When I was small and if there was some­thing wrong and you were up­set and you’d hope for a com­fort­ing word, my mother would al­ways say, “there’s noth­ing wrong with a good cry”. There’s no shame about it. I spend a lot of time on the train go­ing up and down to Roscom­mon and I of­ten zone out on the train – it’s so beau­ti­ful go­ing through the Ir­ish coun­try­side on the train – and some­times I’ll think of some­thing sad and I’m off. Sinead: What about your death- row meal? MDK: I’d go straight to the liquor, skip the food. Sinead: I think so. Fancy booze. MDK: Who would you like to re­ceive a let­ter from? Sinead: I’d prob­a­bly go Kate Bush. I know she’s been sent a copy of The Long Gaze Back and The Glass Shore. I’d love to know what she thought. She’s one of those peo­ple who is mega fa­mous and then when you talk to her, she’s just lovely, just hu­man. MDK: Dorothy Parker. Imag­ine what she’d write to you? How many times you’d read it, how much you’d laugh. Sinead: What was the worst day of your life? MDK: I think I know what mine will be and I haven’t had it yet. Sinead: Wow, that’s pretty pro­found. MDK: I think I live in the now a lot. I find it hard to think of the best time or the worst time. Sinead: Mine is the leukaemia di­ag­no­sis, six months to the day af­ter I got mar­ried. You have this flash for­ward to all the things you think you’re not go­ing to have. MDK: Who is a film- maker or artist or mu­si­cian who re­ally speaks to you? Sinead: I want to say – be­cause I al­ways think of them as a troika – Alice Ma­her, Dorothy Cross and Aideen Barry. I love all their work, not just be­cause it’s strange and of the body and slightly su­per­nat­u­ral and very fem­i­nine, but it’s un­com­pro­mis­ing, it’s not like any­one else, and it’s not easy to make. I think they’re in­cred­i­ble. MDK: James Tur­rell, I’m liv­ing and breath­ing him at the mo­ment. I find light in­stal­la­tions deeply mov­ing, and you’re never be­ing told on any level what to think. It’s nour­ish­ing and not in any way pa­tro­n­is­ing or di­dac­tic, you’re just be­ing in­spired. Sinead: I’ve never met some­one with a mind like Brian Eno. He writes books, he does mu­sic in­stal­la­tions, he pro­duces, he remixes, he keeps up with every­thing, reads every­thing, a proper pub­lic in­tel­lec­tual, and su­per nice given how well- known he is. MDK: I love the new Lankum al­bum as well. Radie Peat’s voice is very spe­cial. MDK: Any­thing you wish you did bet­ter in school? MDK: Mine is his­tory. I didn’t do it for my Leav­ing Cert and I so re­gret it. Sinead: You’re a Gaeil­geoir and your kids go to an Ir­ish school, I just had a se­ries of un­en­joy­able Ir­ish teach­ers. I wish I had been taught a bit bet­ter, and I wish we all spoke it. I wish my Ir­ish was bet­ter. Sinead: Is there a mantra or motto you re­turn to? MDK: I re­ally tried to get in­for­ma­tion out of Pa­trick Scott. I would ask him when­ever I could – give us the mean­ing of life! He would just bat me away like a fly, but he did say: just make the work. I can hear him say it. I miss him ter­ri­bly. Sinead: That’s good ad­vice. In work terms, I al­ways say “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. More than that, and I think this is more im­por­tant as I get older: be kind. If some­body has some good news, shout about it and cel­e­brate it, cham­pion other peo­ple, lift other peo­ple up. We can be very whiny and snide about other peo­ple’s good news and good luck and I don’t like that. I think it af­fects you if you’re like that. Maria Doyle Kennedy is a mu­si­cian, ac­tor, and film­maker. Her new, self- ti­tled al­bum, is out now on Mer­maid Records. Sinead Glee­son is a writer, ed­i­tor and broad­caster.

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