A Day in the Life: Joe Monaghan



THE JOE SHOW Balla musician Joe Monaghan is hoping to release an album before the end of the year.

I’M up at 8am and now that I have a record deal with Ninetone Records, I have emails to go through and different tasks to complete for the label, such as press work.
If I have studio time coming up, I’ll factor in a few hours for writing at my home studio in Balla. I like to try and get a routine going, maybe going to the gym or for a walk to clear my head. It can be great for ideas for writing.
I decided to become a full-time musician when I went back to college about five years ago to study songwriting in BIMM Dublin. I had played gigs and performed cover music for ten years before that, but this was my first exposure to people with similar mindsets to me, which didn’t exist in the west. I got to work with tutors who worked with bands like the Villagers.
It’s a hard profession to explain to people in Mayo sometimes, but when I released my first song three years ago, I said I have to go for this because if I don’t I’d regret it.
It was a risk and it’s a tough job being honest. Financially and timewise it’s a massive undertaking so you are going to miss out on a lot of things in life which regular people do. Mentally it can be stressful and a lot of artists go through it. They think they’re forever knocking on the door and never getting anywhere. You hope you might get an email every month, maybe a review or something that will keep your hopes up so you will keep writing and having that chance. That’s why it’s important for me that I got a record deal.
I signed with the Swedish record company Ninetone Records last year, owned by producer Patrick Frisk. They’ve a few number one records in Scandinavia and have over one billion streams on Spotify.
It happened after I got an email from a woman in New York explaining she was a Senior Music Producer for the David Letterman show for 25 years; that she liked my music and that she has an A&R (artists and repertoire) company. I remember at the time thinking it was someone from Balla joking around and even my family thought it was a scam!
But after a few emails and an hour-long Skype call I realised it wasn’t and she told me she wanted to help build me as an artist. Her name is Sheryl Zelikson. She’s worked with U2 in the past and gave the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran their first break in America on the David Letterman Show.
After a number of months working with her, building my profile and an industry standard press kit, my material got sent out to three record companies when I was in holiday in Sweden and the first one, Ninetone Records, came back and they wanted to meet me. I ended up signing with them.
The first day I went to Sweden I recorded one song and that will be my first single, Talons,  out on April 5 on Spotify. I write all my own songs and this is one of the older ones, but the label have added a lot to it and it sounds really professional.
I think my sound is essentially Mayo and Tracks of our Youth for example is about the place where I grew up and where I used to hang out when I was young.
The third is scheduled for August and hopefully I’ll have an album in November.
I’m also going on a bit of a tour this year. I’ll be playing at the Claremorris Folk Festival on July 20 which is a pretty big gig in Mayo and a lot of big acts are coming down for it. I’ll be playing with four brilliant musicians from Dublin.
The Mayo original music scene has been very vibrant lately and the more it gets around the more it’s accepted into society. Country music rules the land, but hopefully the radio stations will play original music a bit more now.
Outside of music I’m a big sports fan and a fish-aholic. I find it really good for the writing process. At the weekends I might get up at 5am and fish for three hours and you’re back in the house at 8am with a clear head.
The last couple of years have had many highs and lows. If I’m being honest more of a struggle than anything else, but I’ve got to a place now where I can get a sustainable living from my music and I’m really enjoying it.
I was 39 when I signed my first record deal so I always remind people that there is no real age to say when you’re too old or too young. That was a mental fear for me in the last couple of years, that I was getting too old, but thankfully age doesn’t really matter.

In conversation with Ger Flanagan.

Name: Joe Monaghan
Age: 39
From: Balla
Job: Musician

Quickfire questions

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?

I attended the Bobby Charlton Soccer Academy in Manchester in 1989.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?
The River Moy or Berlin.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
Hanging with friends and having no worries.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
You only get back what you give out.

Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Pizza, milk and eggs.

Who was your first hero?
Bryan Robson.

What makes your nervous?

What’s your most prizes possession?
Has to be my guitar. It’s a Fender Telecaster.

If money was no object, what would you do?
Forever travel.