Interview : Chatting with one of my favourite artists of 2016 – Sean McConnell

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Sean McConnell is a singer/songwriter, known best for his songs recorded by artists including Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Brothers Osborne, Martina McBride and David Nail and has penned songs featured on the hit tv show Nashville which has recently moved to CMT.  As well as being a well respected and known songwriter, Sean is also a fantastic artist in his own right and is an artist that is worth taking the time to listen to.

Sean has had various EP’s and albums released over the years but more recently recorded and released his self-titled album which is his debut for Rounder Records. The album was released on 30th September and became one of my favourite albums from 2016.

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Sean McConnell has already won a very devoted audience within the industry and amongst fans. His sound is of Country – Folk, Americana Roots and his album is certainly one not to be missed. His single ‘Holy Days’ and accompanying video are now streaming online and the album is available on CD and download:

Sean McConnell by Sean McConnell
https://itun.es/gb/NXsycb

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sean-McConnell/dp/B01FK3FLB4/ref=sr_1_1_twi_aud_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1483970039&sr=8-1&keywords=sean+mcconnell

Sean came over to the UK to do a few shows for part of the event Texas Music Takeover in late November/early December and I caught up with him to discuss his time here and his album. I hope you enjoy our chat and furthermore, his music.

http://www.texasmusictakeover.com

Welcome to the UK, how has your day been?

It’s been great – had a great morning, some good food, some interviews and now I’m talking to you!

Is this the first time you have been to the UK?

It is, yes – and it’s been so much fun so far.

You are here as part of The Texas Music Takeover. Can you tell us a little more about the event and your involvement, as you are doing more than one show – is that correct?

Yeah, we’ve done three shows so far and tonight will be the fourth show. There are about 10 – 12 artists that are part of Texas Music Takeover all playing different venues over the course of a few days and it’s been a lot of fun. I also did a sofar sounds show on my own last night which was a real good time.

https://www.sofarsounds.com

Oh yes, I saw you post about that on facebook.
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Texas Music Takeover sounds like a really good event, actually, and I hope it’s an annual thing. From what I gather it’s a Stateside package event where Americans travel over to the UK for the event as part of a package deal and UK fans can attend too.

Yeah, there are a group of Americans that have come over with us and who are travelling round and watching the shows.

How has it been so far? How have you found the UK crowds and how has the response been to your music?

Oh, it’s been fantastic, it really has. It’s been overwhelming and just so much fun to play in front of these audiences. The response has been really warm and attentive. I am really looking forward to tonight’s show at the Garage, I am really excited about that one.

Have you found the audiences quite respectful? We tend to be fairly silent here and listen intently to every song.

Yeah I have and I really love that. It really allows the songs and especially the lyrics to be heard, which is what is most important to me. It’s so refreshing to have an audience like that.
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You released your self-titled album recently in the UK?

Yes, it’s been out in the States for a few months now and I believe it has been out in the UK since September. The show tonight at The Garage is also kind of a UK album release show so it should be a fun time.

I really enjoyed the album by the way and praised it in my review. I just think the whole album is such a joy to listen to – really soulful and beautiful, and every song is breathtakingly good. It is an album that any fan of music as a whole needs to listen to.

Oh, thank you!

You’re welcome. How would you describe your music sonically? And what was the inspiration behind the album?

I come from a family of musicians and I grew up listening to Americana and Folk music like Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young and James Taylor. So I feel that my music is definitely story-telling and singer-songwriter, with a lot of acoustic guitar driven energy. There is a lot of production put on top of that on the record, but I think it still does a good job of keeping that focus and letting the songs do the talking.

Are there any songs that have had more of an impact on fans than others – for example, are there songs that fans have said to you have really stood out to them, or inspired or helped them?

Yes, on the new record there are a few that people mention, in particular a song called Queen of St Mary’s Choir. A lot of people have come up to me and told me they have enjoyed that song and another song called Beautiful Rose. That song seems to be the one where people have been going through a hard time or something difficult with a loved one and they tend to come up to me after a show and tell that the song really touched them, so that’s been really nice.

Stand out songs for me are Hey Mary and One Acre Of Land, but I really do love them all so it is very hard – but that’s what makes such a great album, if it’s full of great tracks such as this album, each time you hear it, you hear it differently, in a positive way.

Haha, that is so great, thank you.

You have been releasing music since you were fifteen – many albums and EPs over many years. As a fan myself and others who are fans and for potential new fans, are these all available for purchase? If new fans are like me, they want to hear more.

Yes, I believe that everything is on iTunes.

Great, I will need to sit down and listen to them all.

You have written for other artists too, such as Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride, to name a few. How does the selection process work for a song to get cut by an artist and have you ever let go of a song that you wish you never had – or do you feel they were the right fit and the right direction for the song to go?

The process is that I write the songs and then a publishing company will take the songs that I am not going to perform myself and they will try to find another home for them with an artist, management, label or A & R rep. So I am just responsible for writing them and a company kind of takes care of the rest of that.

As far as letting go of a song, you’re not really selling the song or letting go of it because you still own the song. There are some of my songs that have been recorded by other people that I still perform or have recorded, so it’s not really a matter of saying, ‘Oh, I have to let this one go’, because you can still perform it yourself. I haven’t really run into that too much.

I find that happens quite a lot in Nashville actually, where the songwriter cuts their own version for their record, even if another artist has cut it. Tim McGraw’s song Humble and Kind, for example, was written by Lori McKenna and I am just so glad she cut it for her record too, because I really love her original version.

You also wrote music for the show Nashville. What song/s were on the show?

Yeah, I’ve written a good amount for the show. Some of the bigger songs on there are Shotgun that Christina Aguilera sang when she was on the show. There’s a song called Rockin’ and Rollin’ which the Stella Sisters sang together. I think I have had about six or seven songs on that show.

Do you watch the show?

Yeah, I haven’t seen all the seasons but definitely watch it when I can.

Do you feel that the show is a right representation to how the industry works or would you say it is exaggerated for television purposes?

I think it does a pretty good job of explaining certain things but just like any other television show there are certain things that are maybe a little exaggerated, but that’s just television.

The show seems to have done wonders for Nashville as a whole in terms of tourism. It was a lot more hectic last time I went.

I also think the show has done wonders for songwriters and giving them much deserved attention. I really hope that you will be over here again soon, because we have a really special CMA Songwriters night as part of the Country 2 Country Festival in March and for many of us that is the highlight of the weekend, so it would be so great to have you be a part of that.

That sounds great, I would love to do that.

What artists are you listening to right now?

I really love the new Dawes record. They are a great American band and the guy who produced their record is a guy called Blake Mills. He is an artist on his own and I have just recently turned on to his music and I cannot turn it off.

So how long do you have left on your visit?

Tonight is actually the last show and then I fly to Dublin for two days.

Have you been to Dublin before?

I haven’t and I am so excited.

You are going to love it! I have never been myself but I know it’s very much a loud and active, drinking city. You will have a great time and it is a great way to end your trip. The Irish have a huge Country Music scene over there and they will love your music as much as we do. I truly hope you come back because I am unbelievably gutted I missed You this time.

I will be back for sure and we will definitely meet and you can come to a show.

I will make sure I am there. Thanks so much for talking to me today.

Thank youand thanks for promoting the music.

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