The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


Musician Ciaran Gribbin (aka Joe Echo) is embarking on a solo career after a successful stint with acclaimed NI band Leya. He’s recorded with Paul Oakenfold, he’s written tracks for soundtrack for a movie starring Emily Blunt; and has a solo album in the offing in 2010. Oh, and he’s opened for Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand, James Morrison and Paolo Nutini amongst others! He’s only going to get bigger, CLUAS were lucky enough to grab a few words with him recently. 

Joe Echo

A critically acclaimed album with a great band and incredible voyage supporting some of the world’s biggest acts; it’s a lot to give up on and go it alone. Were you nervous at all about going solo?
I was a little nervous going out on my own; I’d been so used to being in a band with really good friends. We had so many good times but Leya had simply run out of steam. So we all agreed to call it a day. Going solo gave me the freedom to try outs so many different musical ideas and directions and im really loving it. 

Has the intention to go solo been a contentious issue for you? Did you start out playing music with the intention go write and play alone? Or was it something that developed in your time in Leya?
It was a natural progression. I have always written music from a young age so it was no surprise that I wanted to continue with music. The Joe Echo project for me is all about pushing myself into new avenues. Im dabbling with dance music, traditional music and writing for Films. I like to keep all the options open.

With over 80 gigs done since leaving the band, and numerous writing collaborations and releases with lots of famous folk; has it been non stop? Where do you get the time to get into the studio?
I’m sure at this stage I’ve done well over 150 gigs as Joe Echo including a recent first Australian tour.  I do quite a lot with a band not just solo just to keep it interesting. Every day is very full on and I sometimes wonder how we fit everything thing in. Unfortunately my first solo album is taking a bit longer than I’d hoped for but once the work on the movie I’m currently writing and producing the music for is completed my priority is to get my album finished. 2010 is looking like it’s going to be even busier now I have a new worldwide live agent, Steve Strange, who also looks after Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Eminem and others.    

Would it be fair to say that the solo venture is something which you would like to generate more mainstream attention from? Or is it a case that you really want to play and write up beat more popular sounding music?
Right now I’m following my instincts. I’m really fortunate to have a great team around me now including a manager that’s stuck with me for over six years and we’ve kind of grown together. I do, of course, want to generate more mainstream attention and hopefully the solo album and live shows will help me to achieve this but I’m sure I’ll always be working on a variety of things that seem to be coming my way. Life sure ain’t dull and that’s how I like it. I know I’ve still got a long way to go and feel very positive about the future and certainly won’t ever take any success I might have for granted.  

Is it lonely up there playing without the lads from the band? Are the parties as good after the shows?
No it’s never lonely up there and I know it was the right for me to move on and I’m especially happy that we’re all still great mates who I still get to do the occasional things with. Michael Keeney and I have been doing a lot together lately and he’s working with me right now co-producing this current movie music. The parties are few and far between although I must say Australia had it’s memorable moments and a late night or three…..

Have you got a concrete release date for the album? Or is it a case of tracks keep getting added to the potential list?
I have around seventeen tracks in various stages of completion to choose from and stopping there.  I’d say I’m 70% there right now with recording and reckon it’ll take me about a month to get to a finished album once I get back on it in Jan/Feb. No concrete date is set but we can now start to make positive plans for release. We’ll be ready very soon to start playing to the industry and everyone and then decide on how, when and with who it’s released through. Maybe I’ll even bring in a producer/mixer or two to look at what I’ve done. I’m not going to be precious about it if there’s any way of improving the finished album. 

What would you like for 2010? What musically would give you the best form of vindication for going solo? Or do you feel so already?
I’m looking forward to 2010 with a mixture of anticipation and excitement now I have a great team that believes in what Joe Echo is all about. I guess a positive response to my album and growing audiences who enjoy my live shows would be a kind of vindication although I believe if I can continue to enjoy what I’m doing I’ll have a reasonable chance of improving and succeeding in what is an increasingly tough business for any new artist to be in. 

Kevin Coleman

Joe Echo plays the following Irish gigs at the tail end of 2009: 

  • The Academy 2, Dublin (17 December 2009)
  • Auntie Annies, Belfast (18 December 2009)

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