Hello, cats!

Welcome to my latest interview...
I am a not so innocent victim, fallen prey to the seductive lure of traditional (and not so much) Irish music, thanks to the multitask man, Marc Gunn. Hyperactive, Marc can't stay still. His mind boils with hundreds of new ideas every week, and we are lucky because he actually pursues part of them and shares the great results with us! Marc is a musician with passion for his Irish origins and the Scottish and Celtic influences. Thus, expect great humor, mystery and romance in his compositions, exploring his creativity with any topic in mind.

Besides composing, playing and singing, Marc also writes about his adventures traveling and playing in many different corners of this planet. His easy reading style of writing is addictive... Alas, I am now completely hooked on his blogs. As if it isn't enough, Marc still finds time to run many Podcasts on Irish (and related) music.

Bengal: Hi, Marc, thanks for finding the time in your crazy agenda to talk to us.

Marc Gunn: I'm always happy to find time!

Bengal: Marc, can you tell us a bit about your heritage?

Gunn: I am an American of Scots-Irish heritage. My Gunn family arrived [to the US] in the early-mid-1800s from a place unknown at present. But I really wasn't raised with the musical tradition. My dad was big into folk music growing up, and he took me to a few Highland Games, but for the most part, I didn't discover the music until I started the Brobdingnagian Bards in 1999.

Bengal: So, how did this involvement with Music start?

Gunn: My entire family is musical to some degree. My mom plays the piano. My dad plays every folk instrument under the sun, it seems, especially the banjo. My brother plays a bit o'guitar. My sister, flute.

My desire to be a full-time musician began in 1992. I had become an Amway distributor. They asked what my dream was. I said, "music". My Amway life didn't last long, but it solidified my desire to be a musician.

I fumbled around among a few different bands. Then while practicing at the University of Texas at Austin, someone invited me to perform at a Ren Faire. Having long been a D&D [Dungeons & Dragons] geek, I said, "Woohoo!" Asked Andrew McKee to join me and we started the Brobdingnagian Bards. The next couple years were spent in total immersion in Irish folk songs.

Bengal: Which instruments do you play?

Gunn: I play the autoharp almost exclusively. I used to play the guitar and have dabbled with some of the folk instruments I've swiped from my dad, like the banjo, hammered and mountain dulcimers, and now I'm playing the bodhran a little bit. But the autoharp is still my main instrument.

I love it too. The autoharp is simple to play and great for singing. But you can do a LOT with it once you know the basics.

Bengal: When composing, where does the inspiration come from? Do you have a method you use to prepare yourself?

Gunn: Inspiration is random for me. I should sit down and write daily. As I said, I have a problem staying on top of all the projects I do. But really, that's okay. That's sort of the life of an artist. You do lots of different things.

However, when I do write, I like writing with the autoharp in hand. It helps me create the mood and melody and then I can fine tune the story and lyrics apart from the autoharp. It helps me to get started usually.

Bengal: You play with your band, the Brobdingnagian Bards. Which places outside US have you guys been playing lately? Which are the most interesting and strangest places you have ever been to?

Gunn: The band is at the present moment touring exclusively in US. I occasionally tour Europe solo because I have family in Italy and love the fact that I can pay for my trip by playing music. That's Awesome!

However, that is changing some. Last summer, we [Brobdingnagian Bards] led a fan tour to Ireland and played in a couple o'places. Though I think the most shocking thing to happen was in Blarney this summer when some guy sat down in the park we were playing. He listened to a couple o'songs then asked, "Are you Marc Gunn?" All our fans busted up laughing and it turns out he was a fan of my Ren Fest Podcast.

As for most interesting gig, that would either be DragonCon, where we have our biggest audiences packing rooms, or the hostel I played in Italy last summer in this ancient Italian villa. Brilliant!

Bengal: You compose, you write, you photograph, you publish, you educate, you promote, you have a band, you have blogs, web pages and podcasts, did I leave anything out? How do you find time to administrate all of this and still go out with your band on tours? By the way, how many podcasts do you have at the moment?

Gunn: It's my AMAZING time management skills. [with a sarcastic expression]

Good question! Fact is I don't publish things daily. I have a hell of a time keeping up with everything. I'm a bit ADD so I bounce around to a LOT of projects. But none are done on a solid regular basis. I just can't keep up with things that way. So I just accept that things happen when they happen. I work a lot and write and hope for the best. And it works out. Ultimately, it's a lot because I've been doing it for YEARS! And it just adds up. :)

But I admit I have trouble keeping up with them.

I have six podcasts – the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast, Renaissance Festival Podcast, Pub Songs Podcast, Cat Lovers Podcast, MarcSongs Podcast, A Brobdingnagian Minute.

Bengal: Marc, with all this experience you have, what would be your advice to someone that just started in the business and is realizing that it's not that simple to 'make it'?

Gunn: "Making it" is all a relative term. I believe it is not too difficult to make a living as a musician IF you are willing to work for it. Great music is only a portion of what you need to succeed. You also need to learn how to market and promote yourself and be persistent in doing it.

More than likely, you will NOT get a great record contract. So don't expect it. Instead, make it on your own and when the labels come knocking the contract will better all around for you and anyone IF you even want it.

As for me, I have little desire for a contract. I already have a busy label, Mage Records, which takes up a LOT of time and energy. And passing it on to someone else isn't that great an idea.

Bengal: Why cats?

Gunn: Cats. Well, that was an interesting story. I was raised with pet Pekingeses actually. But as I started touring more, my then fiancée LOVED cats. She wanted one while I was away. So we went to the pound and adopted Jasper. It wasn't long before I fell in love with cats too. They are intelligent, sweet and loving... and independent too. I love everything about them.

After performing at DragonCon in 2002, I believe, I was talking with a friend on the phone and my cat Tiziano climbed in my lap. I grew up parodying songs thanks to my dad's influence, so I started singing "Wild Rover" and meowing in the chorus. Next thing I knew I had my first cat song and an -- idea that should seemed to purrfect Irish drinking songs for Cat Lovers. Turns out I wasn't alone either. A LOT of people LOVE the CD!

Bengal: And the question everyone wants to know: in the Irish drinking songs for cat lovers, which one influenced the most - the drinking or the cats?

Gunn: [laughing] It was the cats that influenced it the most. The CD is mostly about cats. In fact a lot of the lyrics aren't even about alcohol. That's just the general theme.

Bengal: Any other information you want to spread out there?

Gunn: Help people. One of the best lessons of marketing I learned was to help other people. And do it selflessly. It's the law of the universe that the more you help others, the more it'll come back to you. Don't EXPECT it to come back, but it will. You just have to have faith. Tough, but believe.

Oh! And I do plan to release "More Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers" in 2008.

Bengal: Marc, thanks for your time. It’s been great to talk to you. Have a great Valentine’s Day and success in your next album. I can’t wait!

If you enjoyed this chat with Marc, you don't have to be in love to enjoy his latest CD, "A Tribute to Love", when he releases the album on Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day Lunchtime Concert and CD Release Party
February 14, 2008
Things Celtic @ noon
1806 W. 35th Street
Austin, TX 78703

Marc Gunn, and news about his band, his shows and projects, can be found regularly at the following links:

Marc Gunn
Brobdingnagian Bards
Marc Gunn Podcasts (list)
Album Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers

Bards Crier Music Marketing and Promotion Ezine

Celtic MP3s Music Magazine

1 Comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    Cool interview and interesting links, man!
    Irish George

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