Member Highlight: Kirsty Mulholland

"It has been a joy and honor getting to witness Kirsty’s process and participation in our community. Her ability to be vulnerable and share unfinished snippets of work in one breath, and in the next share a final product with full instrumentation, tasteful arrangement and if we’re lucky an epic shredding guitar solo. Her encouragement and sense of humor is always on-point." - Rigel

Kirsty is from Belfast, Northern Ireland

What do you do during the day?

I work in financial services, although not the "big fat bonus" kind unfortunately

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Do you have any guilty pleasures in music?

I'm not guilty about it now, but as a teenage Smiths fan in the 80's it would have been highly embarrassing to admit to liking the Eagles.

What does your songwriting habit look like?

I write on an acoustic guitar. It always starts with a chord progression or riff or combination of both. Then I try out some "la la la" melodies over the top until something seems to fit. Quite often I will even sing the titles of the books on my bookcase until I come up with words. But only when I have a structure and a melody do I even think about lyrics. And I never write lyrics before singing them. I sing stuff until I get some words that sound OK, then I write them down so I don't forget.

Who are your influences? How have they shaped you?

I'm tempted to say Bob Taylor and Leo Fender for making my two main guitars! Musically I take my inspiration from all sorts of places - to name but a few; Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, John Prine, The Smiths, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Laura Marling. But my biggest inspiration is my family. My mum played piano, and of her five children, four of us play at least one instrument - it was my eldest brother who first put a guitar in my hand when I was about eight years old. Family gatherings invariably end up with guitars being brought out. One of my brothers had a "significant" birthday a few years back and instead of booking a DJ for the party, he had a function room with an open mic instead. And we're passing it on to the next generation too, including a nephew who is a music teacher and plays wonderful jazz piano, a niece who was a professional soprano and performed as far afield as Italy and Japan, and now I'm teaching my daughter to play guitar.

What challenge are you facing with songwriting?

As you can probably tell from the last answer, lyrics! The musical part comes much easier to me than the lyrics, I do struggle with them sometimes. Thankfully I have just embarked on my first collaboration with 100 Days Of Songwriting, and I have some lyrics written by another member of the group which I'm going to try to set to music.

Tell us an early memory about a song that woke something up inside you.

I very clearly remember hearing the first Billy Bragg album, "Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy" for the first time, and in particular his song "A New England" which would later be a UK hit for my namesake Kirsty MacColl. It must have been 1984. It was the age of New Romantics, big hair and bigger productions, and Billy Bragg just played a very cheap-looking hollow body electric guitar (a Burns Steer) and sang in a very plan workmanlike way with his strong Essex accent. No other backing, just him and his songs. And my ears pricked up and I thought "You can do that??!?" A couple of years later he released a songbook for his first two albums that came with a flexi-disc guitar lesson, as a result of which I can still play every song on those two albums just like he plays them. I have a ticket to see Billy in concert in October, I hope it happens!

What Day of 100 is your piece from?

8

Lyrics:

Song For Bob

by Kirsty Mulholland

Tell me secrets, tell me anything

Tell me what is on your mind today

Show me weakness, show me fortitude

Show me who you are and who you want to be

I won’t judge you, I won’t criticise

I have been there for too long

And I see you, I see every part of you

The light that shines in your eyes tonight

You’ve been damaged by toxic masculinity

Same as the father who’s never hugged his son

You are more than what other people think of you

You are worth as much as anyone

I can tell you from experience

A life that’s lived in fear is not a life at all

Things will happen in the darkest times

The sun will rise and light the way for you

Looking back, when this used to matter

Paralysed by idle vicious chatter

Isolation, I don’t need to describe

Some day soon you’ll find your tribe

You might think life will always be this way

I understand that, I once felt the same

Never listen to anyone who tells you that

You must change to make you more like them

There’s one last thing I want to say to you

To help you through the challenges ahead

It’s that everything will be alright in the end

And if it’s not alright then it’s not the end

Listen to her song here:

Click here to listen 

Check out Kirsty's work here:

kirstymulholland.bandcamp.com

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