Going from drummer to solo artist is an unusual career change, but as Organic Sampler proves, Jeremy Hickey has found his niche. A fresh focus on the groove rather than the details, without ever letting those slide, has led to Rarely Seen Above Ground nominated for this year’s Choice Music Prize. He answered a few questions for Cluas.
Tell us about the album. How long you worked on it? What snags you hit along the way, and how you overcame them? Looking back now, is there anything you'd change?
The double album in all took about 3 years. I recorded it back to back. The bonus disc first and then Organic Sampler. The only snag I hit along the way was when it came to recording drums. I recorded a lot of the drums in my home studio. The space was very small and it seemed to take a bit of time. Then I recorded all the drums again in a studio in Dublin in one day. I then had to choose which ones were the best takes not for sound quality but for suitability for the mood of songs. That was the only thing that caused some hassle, but it was a worthwhile experience in the end. I think all these things are.
Award nominations aside, were you happy with the response the album received?
Yeah, I was very happy and felt blessed with the response the album received.
How do you feel about the idea of music awards in general?
I never liked competitions. I don’t like pressure you can’t have some control over. I do like the fact that with music awards there is a lot more awareness of not just what you are doing but seeing what’s out there right now, what/s fresh.
Do you think the idea of the album is a little antiquated in these days of single track downloading and plummeting CD sales?
Not really, in fact I think it makes bands and artists work harder at making an album, not as a concept album but as an album that tells a story and flows from start to finish. I believe if an album is constructed well people will want to buy it and hear from start to finish whether it’s on CD or download.
Do you feel the Irish music scene is in a healthy state at the moment?
I do think the Irish Music scene is in a healthy state at the moment. Especially for independent artists and bands. I don't feel we need these companies to get the music out there and heard.
Any artists who weren't nominated for the Choice Award, who you feel should have been?
Jimmy Cake, Katie Kim to name a few.
Your favourite album from those also nominated for the Prize?
Jape's Ritual, Mick Flannery's White Lies and Messiah J and the Expert
Best gig you went to in 2008?
Seun Kuti in the Village. One of Fela's many sons. Full band including members of Fela's 1980's band. And I brought the right dancing shoes, me.
Plans for 2009?
I am currently working on the new album. Playing live is were its at for me so lots of touring in Ireland, Europe and the states.
Any recommendations for the coming year (music or otherwise) you have to offer Cluas readers?
I'm excited about this old school rock n roll revival. Not just the rockabilly thing. But an awareness of the history. The song writing and the grooves. I think blending styles is what it's all about. A little bit of borrowing is always the way forward.
1999 - 'The eMusic Market', written by Gordon McConnell it focuses on how the internet could change the music industry. Boy was he on the money, years before any of us had heard of an iPod or of Napster.