Cara Dillon is a young folk musician from Northern Ireland. The winner of a host of folk music awards, her sentimental, melancholic sound is steeped in Irish tradition, which in turn is complemented by her beautiful and captivating voice.
I do and I don’t. My great-grandmother was a great traditional Irish singer, and one of my sisters is quite well known back in Northern Ireland as a singer. I do come from a musical family in that sense, but more than anything where I’m from has more to do with why I’m musical. I’m from a very small town saturated with traditional Irish music and so that became a very big part of my life very early on.
Who are your biggest influences?
In folk music, Paul Brady and a great singer from Ireland called Dolores Keane. With regards to song writing, I’m a huge fan of Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac, so it goes right across the board really. I love all types of music.
Seamus Heaney is one of your influences. Many of his poems are political, inspired by the conflict in Northern Ireland. Have you ever been tempted by political song writing?
No, I haven’t. It’s one thing I’ve been careful not to get involved in because of where I’m from. The only thing I’ve ever done that you could say was political is my song, ‘There Were Roses’, but it’s not really political because it’s all about peace and the two sides coming together and stopping the bloodshed. It’s something I was very proud to put my name to as it was written for all the right reasons.
Do you feel that traditional Irish music can still resonate with young people today?
Absolutely – even more so today than a few years back. In Ireland there’s always been a solid base in folk music for lots of young people. In England you see what Kate Rusby and Seth Lakeman are doing, and they are becoming really popular. Young people have a really great connection with the music because I sing about unrequited love, and let’s face it, everyone has been in that situation at some point! I sing about leaving home as well, which young people can connect with. Also, because of the way we arrange the old traditional songs, some people don’t even realise they’re folk songs. They seem more contemporary as we have given them our own modern twist.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Someone like Kate Bush, and I’m a huge fan of Paul Buchanan. There are so many fantastic singers out there it would be great if your dreams could come true, eventually. I think we’re very lucky to be doing music full stop to be honest.
See Cara at Komedia in Brighton on 19th November, where you can pick up her new album, Hill of Thieves. It will be available on general release in January.