10 Years On - Karac Kennedy / Stone Ocean

10 Years On - Karac Kennedy / Stone Ocean

As we approach BalconyTVs 10th anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to interview some of the first artists that performed on the show and find out what has happened to them in the time since.

Karac from Stone Ocean performed September 22nd, 2006. Here is our catch up....

Stephen - Karac, you were one of the first artists to perform on BalconyTV. What, if anything do you remember about the performance?

Karac - We did 2 songs back to back. We were trying to push our album on a free download which was all the rage back then. I was terrified. I had never really played the songs acoustic on my own live before! The camera was freaking me out, it gave me stage fright!

Stephen - What was the song about?

Karac - It was about inviting someone back into your heart - about being solid in yourself and having forgiveness for people.

Stephen - How long had you been playing before that point?

Karac - With Stone Ocean we had been together since late 2002 - so about 4 years. But me Glenn and Alan had all been playing in various formats since we teenagers. We really put in a big push when we formed. We went all out. We rented a house and threw out all the furniture and turned it into a rehearsal space. We all quit our jobs... we were completely immersed in it. We really leapt forward as players and writers in that period. Everyday we pushed ourselves to get better at something, it was a great time.

Stephen - What were your ambitions then, compared to what they are now?

Karac - Well ... The goal was to get to a point where we had an album of great songs and to try get picked up and to tour. To get out there. And to have a great act - just to be able to do it and rock a crowd hard . I still have that dream. It’s one of the best things you can aim for  in life because when it happens it is the best thing hands down!!! It's harder to a point now because people are older and have more commitments to set up projects, but I still have been lucky to play some decent sold out shows and to tour in recent years. My focus now is make a living properly in reality and hang whatever art or creative projects I can around it. In a way it has more freedom because it’s just for fun, everything is not riding on it. But the bug never leaves you.

Stephen - Are you still performing now? If not what are you doing?

Karac - A little - I did an acoustic ep called Defiance in 2012 and generated some shows supporting Declan O’Rourke and Suzanne Vega which was a thrill. I got some AirPlay on LyricFM with it - very finger style and late night vibe.  I have been standing in doing session guitar etc for some friends bands projects and tours.  The last 3 years have been very focused with work to get set up. I work in business sales which is a show biz all to itself - but this year I will be re-launching the Karac Kennedy solo finger picker project and do a new set of songs and get back out into the wild.

Stephen - The internet has completely transformed music in the last 10 years. When we started out, YouTube was just starting and MySpace was the thing. How have you found dealing with the digital revolution?

Karac - With all change there will be struggle and opportunity. I’m not great at it to be honest. It’s not that easy and even people I know with half a million views still find it hard to translate that into album sales and ticket sales. But on a positive note I could put Defiance out on iTunes myself which was great and I could get the links to people which was great and I have had minor success with getting listed on Internet radio etc and all that generated a little cash. It seems like people have shorter attention spans now because there is just so much content

Stephen  - What do you make of the Irish music scene?

Karac - It has always seemed thin to me - like one type of band always seems to get the medium following and then fade out. The bands that are coming thru are not really my cup of tea. I like heavier sounding stuff - the singer songwriter scene is always healthy and we have some great voices in this country but you don't really hear too many rock bands emerging that make you freak out, which is a shame because they are out there.

Stephen - If you could give the you of 10 years ago advice, 10 years on, what would it be?

Karac - Stay away from drink and drugs because they destroy relationships and really mess with your focus. You just don't need all that shit in your life. Stay productive by just doing little bits all the time and the bigger picture will always come into focus.

Stephen - What has been the best thing to happen to you in music and life in the last 10 years?

Karac - In life - Riding across europe on my bike with a mission to do an album and re-invent a way to exist as a player. It was a very scary and thrilling feeling. In music - Playing to a sold out show in the Olympia supporting Suzanne Vega was a highlight. And hearing Tides On The Blue Of The Night on LyricFM was overwhelming for me because it all started with an Idea on a bike and it came into full colour eventually !

Stephen - What is the one song of yours that you are most proud of that people should check out?

Karac - I would be torn on that - but I would have to say for Stone Ocean "The Great Unknown" - or from Defiance "Tides".

Stephen - Who has been your favorite Irish artist of the last 10 years, and your favorite international or mainstream artist?

Karac - Kopek would be my favourite Irish band hands down - Dan Jordan has possibly one of the best rock voices in the world.

Karac - International, it’s hard to say but possibly "The Handsome Family" as they have inspired me to just do it. I met them in Cork. Rennie is incredible. She emails everybody strange little poems and stories to promote the tours and she paints all the artwork - really fantastic artists both of them.

Stephen - Final question. What would your words of wisdom be for anyone starting out? Be as brutal as you like.

Karac - Forget doing it for money - do it for you.  The industry is still upside down and I know countless artists that have a deal and still no money. Do it for fun - you will get more out of it in the long term.

Keep your overheads low. You need some decent instruments that sound good, and some sort of decent demo recorder, a notebook and lots of time to work your shit out. That's it. The rest will sort itself out.

Get out a few times a year and play in bursts and things will happen. You don't need to play every weekend. It’s better to do some well crafted shows.

Don't get caught up in hits and likes and trying to please people. You will run yourself ragged and you will become resentful of what you’re doing.

The real freedom comes with keeping your integrity and doing what feels right. That is where the magic happens and that's what people want. So start there!

Stephen - Thanks Karac!


- Stephen O'Regan