“Keeep you wits about you somehow
It’s gonna be a cold winter
You’ll gind your place to belong,”
warns McKeown as the fiddles and acoustic guitars provide warmth to the track. Tracks like “Our Texas” and “On the Bridge to Williamsburg are traveling songs that reveal the restless spirit of a fiercely talented storyteller.
Like so many artists nowadays, McKeown produced the album through funding through PledgeMusic, which allows artists to reach fans for their support.
“Once you’ve achieved the target, the pressure is off and you feel that validation,” McKeown says during our chat. “I thought it was important for me to send some videos and blogs along the way during this recording process to give people a sense of what was going on in the studio. That worked well, because fans posted that on their Facebook pages and it built interest in ‘Belong!’”
[NOTE: One of those friends was New York Irish Arts. We posted a mini interview in July when she was taking pledges; there’s a video of “No Jericho” here as well)
Opening with ‘On the Bridge to Williamsburg,’ a duet with Irish singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke, Belong is a showcase not only for McKeown’s pristine vocals, but for other musicians at the top of their game. James Maddock (from Wood) and banjo and accordion player Dirk Powell (Irma Thomas, The Raconteurs, Joan Baez) join Susan for “Everything We Had Was Good,“ a break-up song about ending well. Erin McKeown guests on “Fallen Angel.“
It went well, I met my goal. It was the second time I did this thing–the first time I did it was with Kickstarter. It has it’s pros and cons. It’s great that it gives you recognition as an artist. It has changed the way you get compensated as an artists.
My albums usually takes $20,000 to make and some people spend more than that.
Most of the people that funded me knew me anyway. I was able to reach out to people in my mailing list and Facebook pages. Some people go directly to the website. If people love you and follow you, they will follow you through whatever channel you raise funds on.
Is there pressure to deliver when you know people have already paid for the album in advance?
Quite the opposite. It gives you confidence and liberty to pursue this project in accordance with your vision. It’s a vote of confidence, and not pressure. You feel the unconditional love and support.
How would you describe your sound and the music of ‘Belong’ to someone that has never heard your music?
Trying to describe your music is difficult, so you have to refer to people they know. I embrace a wide array of music. Joni Mitchell meets Emmylou. In other albums, I would say Joni Mitchell meets Luka Bloom. I also draw on traditional music–not just traditional Irish but also Aftican and Mexican Mariachi.
So, how did a nice girl from Ireland get mixed up in all this American roots music?