To INSPIRE: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do something, especially to do something creative.
At the beginning of a new year, we probably all need a bit of inspiration. To feel inspired, to have the energy and the will to begin or to continue. For me personally, to be inspired is something that I’m always chasing. It’s not always easy to find or hold on to. But it is an energy or life source. To inspire also means to breathe in. Or in the recent first episode of This Ain’t No Disco, Dónal Dineen used a metaphor of ‘going to the well’, i.e. that musical inspiration was water. It is an essential part of the life journey on a number of levels.
I’ve been thinking about inspiration recently and how it informs the character, mood and process of work. In particular, I was thinking about my work in radio broadcasting. For those who do not know, I broadcast Irish music, and furthermore I pride myself in digging in the underground. It colours and brightens and inspires my life to spend time with talent, musicians and a music community.
I certainly do not feel a lack of inspiration to keep making radio and adventures and I count myself very lucky that the good people at Spin South West and other stations afford me the opportunity to produce shows and spots for them. However, I do start to see the commercial limitations of what I do. For now, and probably forever, major radio outlets will not recognise the worth of the brilliant art that I find myself inspired by every day/week/year. I’m not bleak about this – if anything I find myself more defiant than ever to keep pushing the good stuff as far as I can. This is part of the inspiration, and hopefully the character as well.
Indeed the ‘Irish Radio’ and Irish music debate raised its head recently, by way of great work by Jim Carroll. It was the opposite of inspiring, so much so that Carroll himself described Irish music that does make it onto Irish radio as ‘beige muck’. Yikes, even I wouldn’t have the balls to say that!! But let’s face it, Irish music radio is as uninspired and character-less as it has ever been, and that doesn’t feel like it will change anytime soon.
Then I heard of a gig line-up on February 17th. A group of people running a gig to raise money for a mental health support group in their community. Girl Band, Lynched, Rusangano Family. All proceeds going to Pieta House. And it’s on in Vicar Street…
These are three examples of acts that don’t shy away from their inspiration however complicated it may be. They do not compromise their art for the sake of radio play or mainstream acceptance and yet this defines the character of the music. This is what makes them essential and exhilarating not just for Irish audiences, but for many more overseas. Nothing beige.
And yet, these acts by virtue of their music will still not achieve mainstream radio play because the mainstream is uninspired and it will continue to turn a deaf ear to what is essential, international and vital. They are on my playlist though. These acts command respect, admiration and the vindication of our underground art. Who wouldn’t be inspired by all that? Ray Wingnut