‘ We came upon this idea of stag­ing an al­bum’

The Irish Times Magazine - - IN CONVERSATION -

The Time of My Life is a weekly col­umn about a mo­ment that changed some­one’s life – for the bet­ter or the worse.

Apiv­otal mo­ment in my life was mov­ing back to Dublin. I had moved away straight out of col­lege. I fin­ished Trin­ity in 2007 and moved to New York and spent about four years there. Our band [ Maud In Ca­hoots] was given this ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity, on pa­per. It was all the things a per­son in the pop world would want: a lawyer, brand man­ager, band man­ager, a record deal in a dis­jointed sense, but we had to move to Lon­don.

Zoe [ Maud’s sis­ter and band­mate] had al­ready de­cided to do a mas­ters in theatre direc­tion in Lon­don. Although I wasn’t par­tic­u­lar ready to leave New York yet, we moved to Lon­don. That op­por­tu­nity didn’t re­ally amount to what we hoped it would. Af­ter a year we just cut all ties.

Af­ter spend­ing an­other year or so in Lon­don, the piv­otal mo­ment be­gan when I moved back to Dublin, and was fo­cus­ing on per­for­mance, mu­sic, the band. But I had also be­come some­what dis­il­lu­sioned with be­ing a lead singer in a band. Mu­sic per­for­mance wasn’t as ful­fill­ing as it had been ini­tially. I was ques­tion­ing why. Why didn’t I have the im­pulse to write? Why wasn’t I get­ting as much en­joy­ment out of live shows?

I found it very dif­fi­cult to tran­si­tion back to Dublin. I felt like I was an alien at home. I had moved away dur­ing such for­ma­tive years. One of the rea­sons I went to New York was to have more free­dom, not be lim­ited by re­la­tion­ships and friends. I came home a very dif­fer­ent per­son from the per­son I was when I left.

Theatre had al­ways been a part of my life. My fa­ther is an ac­tor, and we’d al­ways gone to see a lot of theatre grow­ing up. I’d done some per­for­mance in Trin­ity, but had fo­cused very much on live gig­ging. Zoe had done her mas­ters at that stage and was work­ing in­de­pen­dently with var­i­ous theatre com­pa­nies.

My­self and Zoe had gone down to Other Voices in Din­gle in the win­ter of 2013 and stayed on af­ter­wards for a cou­ple of weeks in a cot­tage. The idea was to write songs for the band and we ended up writ­ing loads of stuff. Zoe wanted to com­bine her work as a theatre di­rec­tor, so we came upon this idea of stag­ing an al­bum rather than record­ing it in a stu­dio. The idea as a theatre piece was plac­ing a band in a theatre con­text, that was the ba­sis of what be­came The Well Rested Ter­ror­ist.

I re­mem­ber be­fore the first per­for­mance in the Pea­cock, in my head say­ing “just walk off stage and don’t come back”. I was so pet­ri­fied. That trans­for­ma­tion that hap­pens be­fore you go on stage, it was a very dif­fer­ent process of trans­for­ma­tion to a gig. I thought I was go­ing to vomit. Then the show be­gan and it was an ex­cit­ing and re- en­er­gis­ing ex­pe­ri­ence from the get- go. It was the first time in a long time – maybe ever for me – that the mu­sic was mean­ing­fully trans­lated to an au­di­ence, and that the au­di­ence was present and avail­able to ab­sorb the mu­sic. That was a light­bulb mo­ment: per­for­mance in con­text, and how the ma­te­rial is per­ceived and un­der­stood is en­tirely in­flu­enced by the con­text it’s per­formed in. As a per­former I was think­ing: this is what I need to do.

Along with her sis­ter Zoe Ní Riordáin, Maud Lee founded the mu­sic and theatre com­pany One Two One Two. Re­cov­ery, star­ring Maud Lee and Peter Coo­nan, is at Pro­ject Arts Cen­tre, Dublin, Novem­ber 8th- 10th.

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