Third album release by trad band FullSet

Third album release by trad band FullSet

By Mary Dennehy

TALLAGHT musician Janine Redmond is part of rising traditional Irish music band FullSet, which is taking its energetic sound into popular music venues such as Whelan’s - taking trad out of traditional venues and onto a larger stage.

Growing up in Kingswood, Tallaght, Janine went to primary school in St Kilian’s before attending St Mac Dara’s in Templeogue for secondary.

Irish dancing from an early age, Janine picked up the accordion at the tender age of seven and is now a member of FullSet, alongside fellow musicians Michael Harrison, fiddle, Eamonn Moloney, bodhran, Andy Meaney, guitar, Marianne Knight, vocals and flute, and Martino Vacca on the uilleann pipes.

FullSet recently launched its third album Notes between the Lines in Whelan’s and despite a busy schedule, Janine took five to speak with her local paper.

Full Set collage

When did you get your first taste of traditional Irish music? Was there anybody who influenced you down this road?

I began Irish dancing at an early age, following in the footsteps of my mother and two aunts, so I had always been emmersed in Irish music. I then started to play the accordion at the age of seven. I was influenced mainly by my granny who suggested that I play the accordion after seeing an accordion player on the television. My parents encouraged me by taking me to weekly classes as well as music festivals during the summer months.

When and how did Full Set form? 

In our late teens, myself and three other members of FullSet used to perform together during our summers in an Irish show called Bru Boru in Cashel, Tipperary. After a few summers there, we decided to form a band. We all had our own commitments and jobs when we began at first, but with the release of our debut album, Notes at Liberty in 2011, FullSet became our full time job.

An award-winning band, FullSet has caught the attention of music fans and critics alike – what’s the secret?

We all come from different parts of the country and with this we bring forward our various styles and influences to the group in the form of tune choices and tune arrangement. This results in FullSet’s distinctive sound. As a band built on friendship, we really enjoy performing together and I feel this fun and energy evident in our albums and live performances. We stay true to our traditional roots but at the same time adding a contemporary edge.

What inspires your sound?

Our music is mainly traditional but there are also some compositions of modern day trad musicians. Michael, the fiddle player in the band, also writes music and some of these feature on the three albums. Individually, we all have different influences and tastes but we do find common ground when it comes to the influence of other trad bands in our music. Dervish, Danú, Lunasa, Altan are a few of many that we look up to.

Over the years, bands such as Kila, Danu and Altan brought traditional music to the masses. How important is it for FullSet to take trad out of traditional venues and into spaces such as Whelans?

It is great to perform at a venue like Whelan’s who have hosted amazing acts such as The Frames, Christy Moore and Jeff Buckley. This has been our second time performing at Whelan’s. We launched our second album, Notes after Dark, in 2013, upstairs in Whelan’s. It was very exciting for us to launch our latest album in the main venue this time around. This proves that traditional Irish Music is not just confined to particular venues but that it has a place in more popular venues and is getting the opportunity to be heard by a wider audience.

Do you think it’s important for young people to be encouraged to play Irish music? 

From my own experience, I think it’s hugely important for anyone to have a passion for something and to pursue it. I would certainly encourage young people to play Irish music. There is a great social aspect with Irish music. As a young child I attended group classes, went to workshops and festivals during the summer. Going from primary to secondary school, and then on to college, it’s very easy to lose contact with people, but I have maintained all my friends in Irish music as we regularly meet at festivals. I also met my husband Michael, who is a fiddle player in FullSet, through the music. Irish music is also a great passport and, since my teens, I have seen many parts of the world because of music.

What attracts you to playing traditional Irish music over popular music or rock?

I grew up listening to Irish music and began playing it at such an early age that I couldn’t imagine playing any other genre. However, I do love listening to all types of music and frequently attend concerts and gigs. But in terms of playing music, for me, Irish music has such energy and drive in its fast paced tunes and also such passion and feeling in slow airs, which I love to perform.

You have had a very busy few years with performances and gigs, has there been a stand-out one and why?

We’ve been lucky enough to perform in all kinds of venues over the last number of years, from the Harpa theatre in Iceland with over 2,000 audience members, Irish Music Festivals in America with crowds that would rival Glastonbury, to intimate pub gigs. However, nothing matches the feeling to performing at home for our family and friends who supported us while we grew up practicing our first tunes.

Third album, Notes between the Lines, was recently launched. What’s the thinking behind it? 

As with the previous albums, Notes between the Lines is a mix of traditional and newly composed tunes with folk songs. Gabriele Bank drew our album cover while in the audience watching FullSet perform in Germany. She wanted to capture our energy in her drawing and when we saw her work we thought it was the perfect way to illustrate the album. The tune and song choice in this album came from sessions we played with other musicians while on tour, as well as two compositions from Michael – one for his niece called Molly’s Hop, and another he wrote for our wedding day called The First of Winter.

What’s the plan for the coming months?

We have just completed a short Irish tour launching Notes between the Lines. We are currently organising a few more dates in Ireland to continue launching the new album. We also have European dates confirmed for the summer months. Releasing an album is always a very exciting time because it means we get to head out on the road again!

The album is available for download on CDBaby http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fullset3, will be available on iTunes in the coming weeks and on sale from www.fullsetmusic.com. 

It’s also in Claddagh Records and most Traditional music shops.

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