Inni-K, aka Eithne Ní Chatháin, is a multi-instrumentalist and singer from Kildare - her music currently soundtracks the nationwide Cruinniú na Cásca campaign.
She will perform in Dublin Castle part of Cruinniú na Cásca on Easter Monday - details here.
Inni-K plays more than just indie-folk: be ready to dive into her mysterious world.
When did you start playing music?
Well, my Grandfather started teaching me on a quarter sized fiddle at the age of four. I took classical piano lessons, traditional fiddle and informal singing lessons and enjoyed the choirs at school and university. My Mam taught me a few songs around the house of course as well. All my family and I were very musical growing up and still are. Summer holidays growing up were mainly going to music festivals like Milltown Malbay down in Co. Clare.
I wanted to write more and develop my own music in my early twenties, because traditional music is wonderful but writing your own songs is a different type of expression, I love both for different reasons and am very happy I get to do both & more besides.
And why ‘Inni-K’?
It was important to me to have another identity than Eithne Ní Chatháin, as a traditional musician and sean-nós singer. I wanted to give people a hint that it wasn’t what I used to do, it’s something new. I think I needed a stage name for that, I wanted to be free to do whatever I want.
I thought what name would still be me but different, so Inny is actually the way that the River Eithne in Ireland is anglicised, so it’s called ‘Inny’, but I like the ‘Inni’ spelling. It was also a nickname while growing up used by my friends.
I like rivers! And this name doesn’t say what kind of music it is, it’s a kind of freedom!
Can you describe your sound?
The music seems to have a lot of elements that I didn’t even expect, so it’s difficult to describe, I don’t even know what is coming out sometimes, I don’t play a particular type of music, I just play music!
My music is a little bit of pop, folk, indie, and also a little bit of African sounds, too. I don’t even know where all this comes from!
There isn’t one message I can point to clearly in my songs, although the title track of my last album ‘The King has Two Horse’s Ears’ which is based on an old tale, has a strong message to speak your truth, not to keep things in, to be who you are, blemishes or warts or "horse’s ears" and all. It finishes with the refrain - ‘Sing to the Willow, go tell it out, go sing it out, go shout it loud’.
My father died nearly six years ago, so a lot of songs on the album - 'Gentle Star’ & ‘Love Song’ are about my relationship with him and saying goodbye, my love and endless thanks for him; a way of helping me move through that time of change and the months and years following. Still those songs are a solace to me and connect me with Dad and all that he was and always will be to me.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I try everyday to sit down, with a pen and paper, and just see what happens. If I do that usually for a week, something it comes, the inspiration comes through me. It can start with a little idea of maybe something I saw in town, or a conversation I had, or something I enjoyed. Nature is a huge inspiration.
Music is like painting: it starts with a mood, or when you’re sitting in a park and you see the sun for example. The song is the mood of that scene.
I mostly play some chords and grooves on the piano or whatever instrument I’m working on. And I write all the time, nearly everyday, even just a little bit. Then I see if what I wrote might suit, the mood of what I write and the music sometimes matches easily together. That’s my favourite part of the work.
What does it mean for you to be part of Cruinniú na Cásca?
I’m really happy! I mean it’s a cultural day in Dublin, it makes me happy that people ask me to be part of it! I was also very happy they decided to put my song for the ad!
People get to appreciate what we have, our own culture. It’s important to showcase what we have. Our culture is so rich - people should know what’s just around the corner!