Kate Dineen

Dublin-based singer/songwriter Kate Dineen takes the stage this week at Ireland’s Showing Your Roots music conference. Recently we spoke with her about her passion for her profession.

What are your roots?
I come from a village called the Spa which is just outside Tralee in Co. Kerry. It’s a beautiful area overlooking the sea and mountains, I didn’t really appreciate it’s true beauty until I moved away, but I love going home as often as I can especially during the summer for swims in the sea and beach walks.

Where do you currently reside?
I currently live in Dublin City, it’s not always the easiest place to live as it’s so expensive, but it is a great place for music. You can find live music every night of the week and the level of talent is just unbelievable. From the smallest open mic to the biggest gig, I’m constantly inspired by the musicians I encounter.

When and why did you become interested in music?
I think I’ve always loved music, for as long as I can remember I’ve always been singing along to the radio or making up little songs or poems. As a teenager, I’d spend any pocket money I had on CDs or concert tickets. I learned classical piano and although I enjoyed it I never loved it, it wasn’t until I started playing guitar that I really fell in love with playing music, when I discovered my voice and started messing around with arranging and writing songs I knew this was something I had to do.

Are they the same reasons you do it today?
At a base level yes, pursuing music isn’t always easy, but I still get the same joy from finding a melody, a lyric, or a harmony that I like. I still get a buzz from performing live and sharing my songs with others. Music has brought me so many wonderful opportunities and allowed me to meet people I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. I think I’ll always be playing or writing in some capacity.

What are the challenges involved with the vocation?
The challenges are numerous. Sometime just keeping going is a challenge, gigs, opportunities etc. are by nature spontaneous and during the in-between times, when it feels like nothing is happening, it can be difficult to stay motivated. I’ve learned how to deal with those times over the years and I find now that appreciating the time to rest, reflect and try new things is the best thing to do. Trust the process, keep working and opportunities will arise.

What are the rewards?
For me the rewards are in the little things. I love when someone connects with one of my songs. I remember years ago, I was performing in a little pub in Listowel and a woman came up to me after and told me that one of my songs reminded her of when she first had children and trying to find herself again after becoming a mother. I thought it was amazing that a song I had written as a teenager about uncertainty and where life would take me could connect with someone who was at a completely different stage of life.

How have you evolved as an artist over time?
I like to think my song writing has improved over time, also my stage presence, when I first started I would clam up between songs and not be able to speak or introduce myself. Over time, I’ve become a lot more relaxed and confident on stage and weave storytelling into my performance. I think as a songwriter, being able to tell the story of your song really helps to bring people in and interact with the music you are performing.

What have been some career highlights?
Playing my first headline gig was a real highlight, it was a gig I organised in Bello Bar in Dublin, and it was just lovely to fill a venue, play my music and reflect on how far I’d come. I played at the Other Voices festival with The Crayon Set, which was a bucket list gig for me and a really great experience. My song ‘Invest’ was chosen for Spotify playlisting last year which was really lovely and signing with Winding Way Records was a great day, working with them has been a great support and such a positive experience in my development as an artist.

Is your creative process more “inspirational” or “perspirational”?
It’s a little mix of both, it feels like song writing inspiration can just hit you sometimes and when that happens you really need to run with it, go with the flow and see where it takes you. However, I don’t think that inspiration comes by accident. I find that if I’ve playing around with a chord progression, lyrics or a theme for a while, it can suddenly all come together at once but you forget about all the work that didn’t fall into place. For me the scariest thing about finishing a song is wondering where the next one will come from.

What makes a good song?
This is such a tough question, and I think the answer is different for everyone. But for me a good song speaks to your soul. It just connects on a level that you can’t always explain.

What makes a good live show?
This is the same answer but a connection between the performer and the audience is really what makes a show for me. Whether the act is getting the audience up, singing and dancing along or it’s a quiet room where you could hear a pin drop, that atmosphere is only created if there is a connection between artist and audience.

What can audiences expect at your Showing Roots performance?
Audiences can expect an intimate, acoustic show with songs in a Folk-Americana style about life, relationships and wanting to quit your job.

What’s on your musical agenda for the rest of 2023?
I’m really looking forward to 2023. During the year I’ll be releasing 3 singles and my second EP, I also hope to get out playing live as much as I can and to find some time to write and record new material.