Interview: Morgan MacIntyre

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Hailing from Belfast (with the first few years of her life spent in Donegal, living above a pub trying to sneak downstairs to listen to Trad music), singer-songwriter Morgan MacIntyre is all bright eyes and bubbling enthusiasm when we meet for a cup of tea. In her final year at Trinity, she explained the difficulties of moving to Dublin for college, “I first started singing and writing my own songs in Belfast, and I built up a tiny base there, and so I found it quite hard coming to Dublin then — to have to tell everyone here that I sang and wrote music… it’s kind of an embarrassing thing to bring up.”

Thankfully, MacIntyre soon got over this trepidation, and quickly got used to going back and forth between the two cities, building up support — though she noted that it is still easier playing at home, “In Belfast I’m a lot more secure in my fanbase, because I’ve been there longer — for example, when I launched the EP [Dancing Down Ravenhill, released late last year] I was more nervous about the gig in Dublin, because in Belfast I knew I could count on a certain amount of people coming.”

On the subject of the EP, MacIntyre is as candid and passionate as the songs themselves, particularly when explaining the title track: “’Dancing Down Ravenhill’ is about a childhood sweetheart — about this guy who lived on my road, and we used to walk home from school together.” She paused, realising the weight of her words before laughing hesitantly, “Or maybe don’t say that?! Though I think he knows it’s about him anyway”. Ultimately unperturbed, MacIntyre continued, “It’s about when you leave school and come back — like when I came back from college for the Christmas holidays, and I’d see all the little corners that we met up on, or I’d go through the park I used to walk through with him. It’s all the memories flooding back — maybe, knowing that those things are no longer there, but knowing that it’s a good thing. It’s nostalgic.”

Listening to the impressive EP, there is a striking starkness and simplicity to MacIntyre’s lyrics, such as the title track with its lines like, “Say you’ll love me long as you live / say you’ll meet me at the bridge”, all in her longing, rich, soulful vocals flowing over sweet, wholesome instrumentation that is somewhat sentimental but never cloyingly so. Indeed, her apparent honesty makes lyrics like “I wish I were able / to speak my mind” on track ‘Butcher’, seem somewhat incongruous, as she noted, “I don’t really tend to write in metaphors, my lyrics are all quite direct.” This sense of candidness is perhaps in part due to the fact that MacIntyre regularly keeps a diary, implying her ease with self-expression.

This all launches into a discussion about whether her lyrical openness has ever made her nervous about showcasing her music to others, “I don’t really know — I have very few angry songs, so if I was being angry or a bit mean about someone I would be a bit hesitant…” She then added with laughter, “But my songs are all just like ‘I think you’re amazing, even if you don’t like me that’s fine!’ It’s quite unnerving but I’m like that as a person anyway — I’m open with my feelings, so it’s not like a massive step.”

With her heart-on-sleeve songs, that voice and her sheer passion for what she does — maintaining and building upon a music career whilst doing a four year degree is no mean feat — it seems more than likely that, post-graduation, Morgan MacIntyre will very much be one to watch.

Originally published in tn2 Magazine.

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