Fil Campbell [filcampbell]
What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
I am a singer and songwriter. I specialise in Irish folk and traditional music.
At the moment I am specialising in the folk songs that I grew up with that were first recorded in the 1930s and 40s by Delia Murphy and others. I have a stage show called Songbirds which features these songs.
I also play guitar and piano and coach singers... I also am an occasional radio presneter and have also presented/narrated documentaries for TV.
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
Mostly in a group.
With Brendan Emmett (guitar and mandolin) and
Tom McFarland (percussion and vocals)
Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
Presented, narrated and researched Songbirds - a 6 part TV documentary series for Irish TV in 2005.
Won the JPFolks award for best full length video in 2006 for this series.
Please list discography in which you have participated.
2005 CD - Songbirds - a collection of folk songs
2005 DVD - Songbirds - 6 TV documentaries profiling the lives of Irish women singers from the 1930s, 40s and 50s
2002 - CD - Beneath the Calm - original songs
2000 - CD - Jaimidi - the Turn of the Day - live recording of a concert for the Solstice of 2000
1996 - CD - Dreaming - original songs and covers
1992 - CD - The Light Beyond the Woods - album of covers
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
I've been singing since I was a child, and semi pro since I was 15 - it was just what I did... A priest called Fr Joe McVeigh got me my first paid gigs. Studied music at Queens University, Belfast and continued working in various aspects of the music business while also performing.
What was your musical education?
When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
Only recently!!! I've always been promising that I'll get a real job when I grow up! and it's only in the past couple of years that I've finally given in and said, well this is what I do, too late to change now.
What is your creative process?
Put on a recording device and play the guitar or piano at random - a pattern of chords will come together quickly, then I start singing jibberish and within 10 minutes I'll have a story line. I'll listen back to that recording and then start to work the song from there.
In general, I try to do some journalling on a regular basis.
When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
when i finally get it recorded!! No seriously, mostly when the story is clear and has a beginning, middle and end and if I feel I can go out and perform the song.
What part of your job is your least favourite?
How often do you practice?
voice exercises most days - and on average 1 day a week for general practice - More when a tour or album are coming up.
How do you feel right before going out on stage?
Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
Linda Ronstadt, Judy Garland, Sting, Nina Simone, Mary Black
List three songs that are key to your life.
I'm not sure if any songs are key to my life but these have certainly made a bigger than average impression
I Wish I Knew How it would Feel to Be Free (Ned Washington) - I come from Northern Ireland and this song spoke to me when I first heard it performed by a folk singer in Glasgow. It still resonates every time I sing it.
Over the Rainbow as sung by Eva Cassidy - just inspired me
ella Fitzgerald - Blue Skies - I actually stopped the car first time i heard this and phone the radio station to get details. What a voice - such freedom.
What should be done to stop piracy?
The $64,000 question...
I think the Cubans have a good system - musicians are paid by the State and have their employment arranged by the state. so the music they create isn't increasing their wealth and an income isn't needed from it to pay them..
Otherwise, then dowloads need to be made cheaper - if everyone had an account that was automatically updated after each download in much the same way as atelephone account.
What type of music do you detest?
Country and Irish
What time did you get up this morning?
How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
I do a lot of internet marketing and networking. and over the years I have built up quite a comprehensive data base.
I do mailings to media and my fanbase on a regular basis.
I have a good website and maintain Myspace and Facebook profiles - I work at these constantly and I do get results from them.
I also do high quality printed materials for gigs - flyers, posters etc and produce CDs to the highest quality I can afford, with good sleeve notes and high print quality.
I do my own PR to radio stations and media - targeting areas that I'm aiming to tour in.
I have only had experience with minor labels and with distributors. The latter was very very confining - I was buying product to promote myself internationally - paying over 10 Euro per item - that's appoximately $13. This made it iimpossible to work.
With minor labels I didn't have much luck either - one closed shortly after signing me - they had real potential for me, but.... The other was in the wrong market place.
What other things have you done to make a living?
At the moment I do voice coaching.
I've presented radio programmes
freelance promotions for other companies
written biogs etc for acts
I run a summer school for singers
I've worked in regular PR
I've done secretarial work, temping
And the worst of all.... I've sold encyclopaedias door to door in the United Arab Emirates!!! Not very successfully I might add.
Oh, and I've sold insurance
Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
ONly once! It was a disaster. Myslef and 2 other girls sang in the Paris Underground, cos we had no money left after a University exchange trip. We earned 10 francs!!!!!!!!!!!!!! that bought us one loaf of bread and a banana each!!!
Who would you play with, without a doubt?
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
Keep working at it.
Be the best you can be -learn the business inside out and don't rely on someone else to guide you or to tell you your good.
Take all advice you can find
Start your press contacts list as soon as you start gigging and start a mailing list as soon as you start gigging.
Be polite, be humble and be confident
Rostrevor, Northern Ireland