Kinsella's quintet Thought-Fox has toured Ireland and played a number of prestigious dates including the London Jazz Festival, the 12 Points Festival
, the Songlines Encounters Festival and the European Jazz Nights Festival in Oslo, so, given the band's relatively short creative life, it has done well to reach such stages. Nevertheless, Kinsella recognizes that, these days, a musician has to have a lot more strings to his or her bow besides creating music to make it. "It's always challenging," she says. "I think, as a jazz musician today, you have to be good at several different jobs. To book gigs, to write the music, to practice, to rehearse the music, to have an online presence, to sort out tours, to apply for funding, to go to live gigs and meet other musicians, to deal with agents and promotersthe list is endless."
Kinsella realizes that it's a long and continual process: "You learn as you go along. It's a career that develops over a lifetime that you create for yourself and that others help nourish and vice versa. You meet some amazing players along the way that you'll be playing with for a lifetime." Although the future is largely an unknown, Kinsella is certainly optimistic about Thought-Fox's potential: "We are going from strength to strength, and each time we play a gig, audiences are happythey smile, they ask me questions, they come up to me and let me know how particular songs made them feel. That's a very special thing for meto be able to connect with the audience in that way. I think we are onto something good."
Another challenge for Kinsella is reaching audiences that might not be aware of the type of music she performs, and this is where the media has an important role to play. "The media is a whole other issue," says Kinsella. "I have people come up to me after gigs saying they'd never heard singing like that before. Maybe one part frightened them, and another part made them cry. You know, what we're doing is not selfish, and it's not throwaway. It's important, and it's saying something deep about communication, about self-expression, about human nature. Unfortunately there's a lot of media who'll listen to the music once and then dismiss it, without really listening and trying to understand what's going on, what the intention is.
"So much media and culture is flippant," Kinsella continues. "If it's not instantly gratifying or easy to understand, then too often it's dismissed. There's a lot of really exceptional music going on in Dublin, in Ireland right now, and the media should be telling people about it in an informed way. This is why it's so great that people like All About Jazz and others take the time to really listenwho see the importance of what's going on and help promote it."
Kinsella works in a number of other settings, too. There's the vocal duo Lupo, with Swiss singer Sarah Buechi, with whom Kinsella recorded Sessile Oak
(Self-produced, 2009). "She's an amazing singer," enthuses Kinsella, "and one of the only examples of a European singer who has mastered the sound of Indian language in konnakol and improvisation in ragas. She was based in New York but recently has been living in Dublin again, so we're due a sing-song. We have no immediate plans to record again, but we are eager to play some gigs soon."
Kinsella also plays in duos when the occasion presents itself, with drummer Mark Sanders
, pianists Dan Nicholls and Francesco Turrisi
, euphonium player Ian McLachlan and electronics musician Gwilly Edmondes; it's a format that the singer seems to find especially rewarding. "Definitely," she affirms. "There's something about a duo settingknowing when to say nothing, when to be busy, when to interact. Saying nothing in a group where there's maybe a lot going on is not the same. In a duo, saying nothing is a very big statement in itself. It's fascinating."
Then there's the quartet Blue-Eyed Hawk. "It's a great group with [trumpeter] Laura Jurd
, [guitarist] Alex Roth and [drummer] Corrie Dockall improvisers based in London," explains Kinsella. "We have a lot of fun rehearsing, gigging and making meaningful music. We have plans to go to the studio in June, and I am very excited about this project. We're playing some nice gigs in London, like the Vortex and Café Oto, and it's gathering momentum. It's very exciting, altogether."
Busy, productive and gradually making waves, Kinsella seems to be in a good place right now. "I love what I do," she says. "I am constantly learning. And this valuable way of life was instilled in me from a young agekeep the brain active in what you are interested in. The challenge is to keep pushing yourself into new territories and come up with new ways of playing, teaching, improvising and composing. Every time I play a gig, I learn something about myself, about the musicians I'm playing with. I learn if I'm repeating myself, what works and what doesn't and areas I can explore further. Life is about learning. As you get older, you have a better understanding of your parents as people and your relationship with them; you have greater understanding of nature, of friendship. That's all I wantto keep on learning."
Thought-Fox, My Guess
(Diatribe Records, 2012)
Lauren Kinsella/Alex Huber, All This Talk About
Lupo, Sessile Oak
(Self Produced, 2009) Photo Credit
All Photos: Courtesy of Lauren Kinsella