his brilliant blend of Irish / Celtic flavored New Age instrumental
music, Eamonn Karran has carved a unique niche for his music
on the world stage. Eamonns 2016 album Celtic Skies was
widely acclaimed by Contemporary instrumental music fans and his 2018
album Ill Be With You takes his musical vision
one step further. Speaking about Ill Be With You, Eammon
tells mwe3.com, I wanted to portray a more positive message
with Ill Be With You, moving on from the past, overcoming
barriers that have held me back and developing confidence in myself
and in my abilities as a musician and composer. I wanted to tell the
story of that guy who despite so many difficulties, decided to follow
his dreams 8 years ago and is now releasing his fourth studio album.
In the past six years Eamonn has gone from the tragedy of his 2011
auto accident to enchanting music lovers world wide with his uplifting
and elegant blend of New Age flavored meditative music. Like he stated
five years ago, following Distant Sun, his first Real Music
album, I know that I walked away from that car crash for
a reason. When I look back, I wouldnt change a thing as these
experiences have molded who I am today. Perhaps what has
changed is that Eamonns music has gotten even more intriguing
and sonically tasteful, especially in light of the technological improvements
in the world of VSTs (virtual studio technology) that Eamonn
tastefully implements throughout his keyboards / synth friendly instrumental
music. Irish flavored music is some of the most rewarding World Music
there is and even though its ubiquitous, Eamonn finds interesting
ways to present melodies and sonic imagery of his beloved Derry throughout
Ill Be With You. The challenges of bringing his music
far and wide on the live stage notwithstanding, the sheer variety
of synth / keyboard based music on hand makes Ill Be With
You a stunning achievement in the 21st century world of contemporary
instrumental music. www.facebook.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
The River starts off your new CD Ill Be With
You. What does The River signify in your life and
on the new album and what do the lyrics in the song mean? Erin Kelly
was also on Celtic Skies, so the vocals and lyrics is now more
a part of your palette of sounds?
Eamonn Karran: Over the last few years, sadly so many young
people have taken their own lives on the river Foyle, which runs through
my hometown Derry. There was one particular incident that inspired
me to write this track. A young guy was missing, and seen entering
the water. Hundreds of locals spent weeks searching the riverbanks
day and night. The Foyle is notorious for its under currents
and it can take months to find anyone who enters its waters
During this search another guy was seen jumping from the Foyle Bridge
by people out searching, it was an extremely traumatic event for all
involved and this inspired me to compose. I had this line in my head
I hope and pray that darkest river brings him home
and from this I built up a composition and lyrics. Although my intention
with this album was to create a more positive vibe, I felt I had to
include this piece as it was inspired by a local tragedy.
I asked Erin to sing this piece as she done a wonderful job on the
track Irish Skies and I believed her tone would perfectly
suit the mood of the song. I would definitely like to add more vocals
and lyrics to my music although I have to admit words are not my strong
point! I dont find it natural to write lyrics so most of my
future albums will probably continue to remain predominately instrumental.
I enjoy layering vocal textures and creating ambiance in my tracks
by experimenting with sampling and various effects, so you might hear
more of that approach on future albums.
mwe3: Are you going back to your Irish / Celtic music roots
on Ill Be With You And what were some of the other inspirations
behind the new album? For example, on your Celtic
Skies album you were inspired in part by your family and becoming
Eamonn Karran: Yes absolutely. Ive always loved Irish
traditional music and my intention is to take that to a different
level, whilst still maintaining that traditional feel, kind of modernize
it for a new audience. As with previous albums, I wanted to combine
a mix of solo piano, my first love, and larger pieces but add in touches
that give this a current feel, an album that is almost future proof
Ill Be With You is a wonderful tribute to a particular
person who stood by me in my darkest times. Its not intended
to be a sad album, quite the opposite, an uplifting album that celebrates
everything that is good about life, stepping out of the darkness into
the light, having that rock to lean on when times are tough. In many
ways it is inspired by my family, as they are all part of this wonderful
journey Im now able to take, and if it wasnt for them,
things could have been so much different.
Your piano sound on Ill Be With You is excellent. It
seems like youve found a way to combine everything on this album
and you can hear that on Guiding Light, which combines
voices, piano, synths and even saxophone too. Are the sax and vocals
sounds real or sampled? On Guiding Light theres
also some electric guitar sounds too? Seems like youve found
a great way to expand and expound on your sound and the guitar sound
is great by the way.
Eamonn Karran: Thank you! Ive been working on finding
a piano sound that sits well on its own but still shines in
a bigger mix. When I composed Guiding Light, I thought
to myself, this will never fit with the album. It was one of those
tracks that seemed to sound too detached from other pieces. I was
experimenting with different sounds and came across a piece of software,
which Id forgotten about called 'lap steel guitar'. Id
done a little programming and was surprised how much it could actually
sound like an electric guitar.
I played the guitar melodies live using pitch bend and keyboard controls
to phase effects in and out. I was surprised how it turned out and
decided to include it on the track. The sax sound is from Sampletank
2. I love this piece of software, it is seriously underrated and with
a little bit of editing you can get some amazing sounds. Like the
guitar, it is played live using keyboard controls for expression.
I sent the track to Real Music and they liked it so I decided it was
a keeper, glad I did as it has really grown on me!
mwe3: On Celtic Skies, you featured the Yamaha P105
and also some VST gear by Acoustic Samples. Have you gone further
into the world of VSTs with new technology on Ill Be
With You? How did you balance your use of hardware synths and
the VST gear?
Eamonn Karran: My beloved P105 piano sound has taken a
back seat on this album, although it has been used as my main controller
keyboard. Ive been working hard on honing my piano tone and
creating a sound that has space and emotion. With VST pianos you have
that freedom to experiment with so many mic positions, pedaling and
You cant really do that with a live or stage
piano. The beauty of working this way is that I can go back weeks
later and touch up anything that doesnt sound right. My main
piano on this album is a VST called 'Addictive Keys'. Thats
the main sound on Ill Be With You, and it just seems
to work well out of the box. Ive used some hardware keys on
a few songs but very little and I can see myself moving away from
hardware synths on future albums, mainly because I have such a large
palette of high quality sounds on hand through VSTs. My Yamaha
MO6 and Korg TR76 are quite old but I still love their sounds for
live use and have used them on the album for some background pads.
As for new VSTs, theres a few, mainly synths. I used Air
Hybrid 3 and Z3TA quite a lot on the album, wonderful for pulsating
sounds that compliment the percussion, gives a nice modern driving
feel to the tracks, and you can hear this clearly on Mac Lir.
Quite a few people have commented on this album having a more up to
date feel. That was my intention and I intend to develop this sound
on future albums.
The title track Ill Be With You is excellent. Does
it reflect your love of Celtic and Irish music? Why do you call the
album Ill Be With You and what can you tell the readers
about the title track? The percussion track is very cool in that song.
Youve used the Sampletank ethnic percussion before right?
Eamonn Karran: Ill Be With You was initially
intended to be a vocal track. I had some lyrics written but never
got a vocalist to try them out. I sent the track to Real Music and
they loved it as an instrumental although I may decide to add vocals
at a later date to see how it sounds. This track, like the album is
dedicated to the people who have supported me during dark times, they
are the sole reason I create music. The title Ill Be With
You embodies the unending love and support my wife has given
me over the years.
To be honest I never thought of this as a Celtic sounding song even
though it does have traditional sounds. I wanted a modern Adele-sounding
track but, I believe that if I had added vocals it may have had a
completely different feel and possibly not have fitted in as well
with the other tracks. I decided to add the whistle later to complete
I love Sampletank for so many reasons but its percussion is wonderful.
I have used it on every album except Distant Sun. The shaker
sound is played live from Sampletank and then I added a reverse reverb
using a VST called LFX1310 to give it a natural live feel. The deeper
drums are sourced from Looploft samples that are stretched and cut
and layered into the track. I added reverb effects to give each percussion
track its own space to shine.
mwe3: Morning Light has a very meditative vibe
and you can almost feel the sun rising the way the piano is draped
by the swelling synth sounds. Are you more of a morning kind of person
or a night person? What time of day is your favorite and how do the
different times of the day or even the time of year affect your compositional
approach? Some composers love to write and record in the winter.
Karran: Im an awful morning person! think as I get older,
it gets worse... It takes me forever to come round. I would tend to
stay up later at night but it wouldnt be my favorite time for
composing. Morning Light represents a new day dawning,
a positive relaxing track that looks to a bright future. I mainly
compose during the day, thats when the kids are at school and
I get time and silence to think and create. I like to travel and draw
inspiration from the world and sounds that surround me, so daytime
is definitely my favorite. As for seasons, I love winter into spring.
Once Christmas is over and we get into the swing of a new year, I
find myself being inspired to compose. The warmer, brighter days and
stretched nights have a wonderful positive influence on the music
mwe3: A New Dawn also has a kind of morning sound
to it, like an awakening or kind of birth of light effect. The Uilleann
pipes sound great on this track and coupled with the percussion the
track its a real winner. The drums are prevalent on this track
too and they sound quite real too. Are the drums programmed and what
programs did you use for the Uilleann Pipes? The track is a real high
point on Ill Be With You.
Eamonn Karran: Yes, youre spot on about A New
Dawn having a morning sound Robert. This song is a positive
upbeat track, looking to the future and what I hope it may hold for
myself, my music and my family. This is one of my favorite tracks
on the album. I love the sound and production. Im proud of how
it has turned out and was a benchmark for tracks to follow.
The drums are performed live using a VST called DrumMica. Unbelievably,
this is a free VST from microphone manufacturer Sennheiser and has
some of the best natural sounding kits I have heard. I use it above
other VSTs that cost quite a bit. I also used Sampletank for background
percussion effects. I genuinely dont think I would get a much
better sound if I was to use live drums and percussion plus, theres
the bonus of being able to edit and tempo match these programs with
the rest of the track if I ever need to change things later. As for
the pipes, these are from Cinewinds VST. This is an incredible VST
that contains fabulous Celtic pipes and whistles. Personally, Id
prefer to use live pipes but as these are restricted to being played
in certain keys. Its not always possible to use them on some
tracks whereas with the VST pipes, I can play them in any key.
The Pipers Dream is quite inspired by the Uilleann
pipes sound once again. How would you compare the Uilleann pipe sounds
with, say the sound of bagpipes, for example? Can you remember the
first pipes sounds you heard as a young person? Its a fascinating
kind of sound. I remember I first heard the Uilleann pipes on the
Chieftains' soundtrack to Barry Lyndon and its haunted
me since. I forgot to ask you who your favorite Uilleann pipes players
are? Are the Chieftains still popular in Ireland?
Eamonn Karran: Most of my tracks are based around percussion,
piano, harp, synths etc. with pipes being added in for an extra bit
of emotion. When I started composing The Pipers Dream,
I wanted to create a track built around a pipe melody. I was heavily
influenced by a Davy Spillane track called Midnight Walker.
Its a stunning piece of music featuring pipes and pads. Hes
an incredible piper and I love his style but if I was to be honest,
my favorite piper is Gabby Fitzgerald who is featured on my track
The Beginning. Hes a multi-instrumentalist, singer
songwriter who has released some fantastic work and is a pleasure
to work with. He was the first person I heard playing pipes back in
the early 1990s and its haunting sound has stuck with me over
Personally, bagpipes dont compare. I find bagpipes to have a
more brash and aggressive sound, they are a wonderful instrument but
for me, the Uilleann pipes have so much more emotion, they have a
beautiful flowing tone that seems to hit that spot every time, they
can easily bring the listener to tears. When a masterful player such
as Gabby plays the pipes, its takes the track to a whole new level,
and I intend to feature his playing much more on future albums.
Its been years since Ive listened to the Chieftains
A great band and seriously influential on the Irish music scene across
the world, they are still a very prominent band and pull great audiences
whenever they gig. I must look up the Chieftains music again
tonight, might just get some more inspiration.
mwe3: The inside cover art of Ill Be With You features
you looking out over a vast terrain of landscape. What can you tell
us about that picture and the CD cover art too is fascinating and
quite effective. Are those Runes on the cover from Ireland? I was
thinking it has a very Stonehenge effect to it. Whats some of
your ideas on these phenomena like Runes and also Crop Circles? Are
there Crop Circles in Ireland too?
Karran: The inside and rear cover photos were taken in Grianan
of Aileach fort, not far from my home. Its an wonderful place,
a ring fort with surreal energies. Some believe the original burial
site dates back as far as 1700 BC. The fort itself is said to have
been built around 600 AD and has been used by the ONeill clan
as one of the main royal seats of Ancient Ireland. The view here is
stunning, looking over the Inishowen peninsula and Lough Swilly with
its golden beaches
The front cover is a stock photo selected by my label Real Music.
I believe these are Scottish standing stones, taken by a talented
photographer called Simon Hattinga Verschure. These standing stones
are to be found in many cultures, but few are left in this condition.
I was actually walking in Donegal a few months back. We took an off
road track towards a cliff and came across the remnants of a huge
stone circle, and you could see where they had fallen and become buried
over time, but the outline of the circle stilled remained. It always
fascinated me how these cultures managed to move such huge stones
long distances to these sites and erected them in such wonderful formations.
Its true dedication to their culture and beliefs.
I have seen so many crop circle photos and videos over the years.
I love this phenomena! I hold the belief that many are of extra terrestrial
origin. I understand that some could have been faked but when you
look at the intricate pattern of some of the best circles, there is
simply no way anyone could produce this overnight and in such perfect
formation without an aerial view point. Also, when we study some of
the designs they relate to the position of planets and some even forecast
events to come, they are amazing. I would love to come across one.
For some reason they are not as common in Ireland although there has
been some reports over the years, and maybe Ill get the chance
to discover one on my journeys!
mwe3: What inspired the track Peace? What
do the lyrics speak of and is that Erin as well on that track? Do
the lyrics reflect peace of mind or peace on earth? What inspired
that track and what are some of the key lyrics on Peace?
The vocals are sublime and quite ethereal. I wish you could have printed
Eamonn Karran: This was composed as a prayer for peace on Earth.
I know so many have written songs along this line and its a
little bit cliché, but like so many composers, I am influenced
by what I encounter on a day to day basis and we are in times of deep
its impossible not to be moved by whats
happening across our world.
I wanted to give the song a church hymn feel but still maintain that
Celtic Enya sound, layering vocal lines to give the impression
of a choir singing in the background. The initial vocals are from
the Iona Leigh sample pack. She sings quotes from Celtic poets, but
as the song progresses I use a VST called Realivox blue. Its
a fantastic word builder and allows you to create quite realistic
vocal lines and harmonies. I was intending on getting Erin to do the
final cut but I decided to go with this version as it fitted so well
with the track. Looking back it would have been a great idea to include
the lyrics, I must remember that for future albums
So young we were, when first found love, found us in hazel
Sweet thy kisses were to me,
And thy voice sweet melody
Peace we give you (2x)
Peace we leave you (2x)
Peace we give you (2x)
Peace we leave you
Peace we give you
Peace we leave
Father, Mother hear our prayer (2x)
mwe3: After some of the ethereal sounding tracks Thought
Of Tomorrow is darker and introspective. Is Thought Of
Tomorrow more funereal sounding or maybe its kind of a
lament of sorts? Did you write Thought Of Tomorrow with
anything / anyone or some event in mind?
Eamonn Karran: The piano part on this track was initially recorded
in one take as an improvisation. I liked what I heard and decided
to layer it out with strings and pads. Its a very deep track...
not so much an Irish vibe but more contemporary or New Age piano,
with some of my Ludovico influences coming out in this piece!
I recorded this around the same time as The River when
I was impacted so much by the tragedies happening in my own city with
so many young and old taking their own lives. I had this melody and
was thinking about my own experiences with depression and how difficult
it was to think of tomorrow when you are in that dark place. Its
a sad track, quite emotional and personal as I can relate to how so
many of these people must have felt. Im lucky to have had so
much support from loved ones
to have this gift to be able to
vent my thoughts and fears through music. Looking back, I can see
how traumatic it was for those around me to witness me behaving the
way I did but when you have a mental illness, such as depression you
dont see this, only a dark place. My hope is to inspire others
to open up about their problems, seek help, speak out and share your
burden, think about tomorrow and what gifts it may hold for you.
mwe3: How about Requiem? Is it kind of a genesis
or birth sound in your mind? The synth sound is brilliant and unusual.
Coupled with the soaring vocal, Requiem is one of the
more unusual sounding tracks. How did you layer the vocal sounds and
how would you describe the synth sound? Sounds like a church organ
Rick Wakeman used to get with YES. Is the vocal sampled? Is the vibe
of Requiem kind of a religious effect you were going for?
Eamonn Karran: I love this track! Its one of my favorites.
Yes, its very unusual and is not so much about a death but a
rebirth, a new start and a chance to make something incredible using
the gifts I have. The requiem is for my old life... I wanted to create
a heavenly spiritual sound without being too typically New Age, so
I thought why not try a church organ! Ive never used one on
any of my tracks but I do have an amazing VST called Leeds Church
Organ which has lay unused for many years. I tried it and was
amazed how incredible it sounded, its reed organ is perfect for this
style of music. I then used VST Alchemy to get some nice
rich string synth pads and I carefully layered them using reverb and
stereo imaging to create this big sound. The vocals are from a sample
pack I have, I like the haunting sound of this particular vocal line
and it seemed to work well as a sort of lament. By the way, I love
Rick Wakeman! Now that you mention it, it is very similar, and it
definitely must have been a subconscious influence.
mwe3: Any comments on The Beginning? Its
got that quintessential Irish music sound. Were you aiming for a very
traditional sound on that track?
Eamonn Karran: The Beginning is another song about
reflecting on getting that second chance at life. Its certainly
more Irish and I wanted to write a piece that featured my friend Gabby
Fitzgerald on the pipes. Gabby has been playing various Irish traditional
instruments for many years and is recognized as one of the finest
in his field. On many other tracks Ive used VST pipes but for
this it had to be live.
I wanted to give this piece an uplifting feel after the darker vibes
that ran through previous tracks. On future albums, I may feature
more live instruments. Sometimes it can be difficult to get musicians
in on time to record and this can hold up production, thats
why Ive mainly used virtual instruments on most of my compositions
but I love the natural sound and feel of live performances.
mwe3: What can you tell us about Mac Lir? It has
a very Irish title. Does that track take you back to Irish mythology
again? You were telling me last time how inspired you are by living
so close to the ocean, so is Mac Lir another paean to
the sea gods or deities? Is the Isle Of Man also involved in the Mac
Lir legend? Tell us something about the sea Gods in Irish lore that
inspired you as a young person and today as well.
Karran: I love finding new places to visit and checking out its
history. I was surprised last year to discover a beautiful viewing
point not too far from home that I never knew about. We traveled up
one evening and sat on the cliff top looking over Benone Beach as
the sun set. My kids loved it and I was intrigued by the stories and
myths of the area, in particular Manannan Mac Lir, the
Seated upon the cliff on Benevenagh mountain is a statue of Mac Lir,
looking out over Benone and the endless expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.
He is a mythical sea god, feared by many as he was the guardian to
the afterlife. He was seen as a powerful, invincible figure and is
also known to have been worshipped in Wales and the Isle of Man, whom
some believe was named after him.
Some of my music is certainly influenced by Irish history and Ive
always been fascinated by these stories, but I often wonder what exactly
were these gods? As Mac Lir has been described as having the power
to disappear, having a magic sword that can penetrate any metal, a
helmet with magic lights and as being the guardian of the other
world, was it possible they were beings from another world that
were interpreted at that time as being gods?
Since I was I kid I have believed in the existence of life beyond
Earth. Ive been fascinated by the possibility that we are not
alone in this universe. Throughout history, we have documented the
existence of powerful beings and gods that have come to Earth. Ancient
civilizations would have portrayed them as gods whereas we could be
actually dealing with extra terrestrial beings.
With this track I wanted to create a powerful piece of music that
represents the power and wonder that these deities created and their
impact on Celtic history.
mwe3: Is Homeland a tribute to your homeland? Did
you set out to make a kind of ethereal New Age piano solo track with
Eamonn Karran: When writing this piece, I wanted to create
a piano piece that had a modern feel. I toyed with the idea of adding
a live vocal over this as it has a certain modern piano riff sound
to it but decided to leave it as an instrumental. It has an uplifting
sound and is a tribute to everything I love about my country. If Im
to be honest, although I like the track as it is, I still see this
as a work in progress. There is so much I can do to this track and
maybe on a future album, Ill rerelease this with vocals and
mwe3: Is the album-closing track Stand Beyond more
of a mainstream New Age / Quiet Storm track from Ill Be With
You? It would make a great single track from the album.
Eamonn Karran: Yes, absolutely and another of my big favorites.
I am very proud of the production on this particular track and was
aiming for a more commercial sound. This track is about having the
bravery to stand out from the crowd and be recognized for your talents.
The vocal sample is from Iona Leigh and I wanted to build the track
up to a big ending featuring a range of Celtic instruments... I have
Bodhran, mandolin, pipes, whistle and violin all going at once.
Ive never considered releasing a single from the album but I
may look into it as this seems to be the track that has got everyone
chatting. Stand Beyond is the perfect closing track to
the album as it represents the core story behind the making of Ill
Be With You.
mwe3: Would you say Ill Be With You is your
best album yet and how would you describe your frame of mind when
you created it?
Eamonn Karran: Ive literally exhausted myself with Ill
Be With You. Yes, definitely Id say this is a big step up
from previous albums. Ive put my entire heart and soul into
these tracks and Im proud of how it has turned out. I wanted
to portray a more positive message with Ill Be With You,
moving on from the past, overcoming barriers that have held me
back and developing confidence in myself and in my abilities as a
musician and composer. I wanted to tell the story of that guy who
despite so many difficulties, decided to follow his dreams 8 years
ago and is now releasing his fourth studio album. I wanted to make
this a dedication to my incredible wife who has been my rock and support,
"Ill Be With You", through the good and the bad.
mwe3: What else are you planning for 2018 and are there other
thoughts about performing live concerts in Ireland or elsewhere or
any online video performances so your fans from around the world can
see you perform some of the new tracks? What kind of album would like
to make next and what kind of musical directions will you go in next?
Eamonn Karran: Im currently working hard on album 5,
no rest! Ive been talking about doing live shows for a few years.
I currently do some solo piano performances at a local hotel but would
love to put together a proper show, taking these tracks and transforming
them using live instruments and players. I have spoken to management
and they seem interested in getting a show together. Im not
good at the whole promotion and marketing side of the music business.
I would need a good management team, dedicated to getting this show
on the road to be able to take the big step into live performances.
Its definitely something I need to concentrate on over the next
year. I do like the idea of streaming live though, I must look into
how that is done. Would be amazing to set up a performance from home
and stream it to fans.
Im so excited about my next album. It will probably feature
more live vocals. Ive a few tracks almost complete and Im
enjoying the direction its taken, with a slightly more commercial,
Moya Brennan feel but it still has my signature Celtic sound. Watch
this space, samples will be posted over the coming months!