In the process of shedding negative influences on her life, Nina Hynes is giving her music back to the people. With the launch of a new fundraising project for her next album Goldmine through fundit.ie, a brand new Irish based fundraising platform, the acclaimed Irish singer songwriter is re-emerging this month, and playing live in Ireland again for the first time in four years. Would you like Nina to sing you a song over skype? Or a video of Nina giving a cooking lesson for one of her specialities, home made paneer perhaps? These are just a couple of the options you can choose from her pledge page on fundit.ie. If you choose to donate, you contribute to the recording of her new album. You can visit Nina’s fundit page for a breakdown of the buget goals she has set for Goldmine.
Nina has had some unlucky experiences during her music career: from a sinister manager (that may be an example of tautology) who still claims to own the rights to her first two albums, to traumatic touring nightmares like breaking down on the motorway, 5 months pregnant, in the lashing rain, after filling up the tank with the last of the tour money and the road assistance crew walking away when they realise there’s no fee in it for them. But there’s gold in them there hills: a friend of a friend acquires a tank of petrol in Rome, despite drastic petrol shortages and apocalyptic scenes of mile long queues at the gas stations. A car rental clerk in Cologne seems oblivious to the lack of a credit card, securing Nina a car just in time to make it to the next gig – and that road crew do eventually come back.
These are the tales of Nina Hynes, and she is putting them to good use now after spending the last three years living as a family unit with her man, Fabian and daughter Caia, in Berlin. We caught up with Nina on a balmy Berlin night to see what she’s been up to, and what she’s digging up for the future.
Tell us about how you’ve decided to make your next album?
It’s a way that I have found that I might possibly be able to make a new album Fundit is the same type of site that exists in America as Kickstarter, and in England as Pledge.com. Fundit is the new site in Ireland, but it’s not only for music, it’s for all kinds of projects. What I want to do is bring a drummer here to Berlin and get most of the album recorded, then go over to Ireland and record with a smaller version of the Aspiro choir put together by Mary O’Brien, put it on vinyl, and create a beautiful limited edition art package. That’s my aim with the project.
What has your process been since your last record?
The last album I released was in 2007, since then I’ve been writing, and writing and writing. Eventually all the writing is like some kind of explosion inside, that I feel like I have to put out. I always have a very strong idea in my head of how I want the songs to sound in the end. This album was really different for me because it came from a very raw place, just me on my own in a room with a small instrument, singing. My idea was to have loads of voices with me, and then go back to really raw, and then go back to loads of voices. I’m working with amazing musicians, piano player Fabien Leseure, drummer Sean Carpio, and Peter Cheevers will play bass. I have decided which songs will be on it but there’s still a few in progress, I wrote a song just two days ago, and I wrote another two weeks ago, that I will probably include…so I may kick two others off it. I wrote the ‘Goldmine’ song just after Caia was born in 2008. I just have a really strong feeling about this album, I’m dying to record it.
So through Fundit you will offer different options that fans can pledge their money to put towards the €8,000 target to get Goldmine recorded?
There’s about 20 different options ranging from €7 to download the album, to €5,000 which is like the shirt off my back basically for 500 years. There’s fun things like, people can Skype me and I’ll sing them a song. Or, I have a list of five of my favourite recipes and I film myself cooking them, people can download that. What I’m quite excited about is, when I started playing – a long time ago – I recorded on a 4-track for about ten years, they’re just little cassette tapes, really bad stuff but kind of homey, cosy, intimate stuff that nobody’s ever heard. So I think I’m going to make a little EP or maybe even an album and post it on my Fundit page as one of the pledge options. It’s funny listening back to the 4-track tapes, I think in a way I’m going back to my roots lately. For over ten years, ever since I’ve been releasing records I’ve had a loud, indie, electronic and rock kind of sound, loud guitars and keyboards and drums, but now since I moved to Berlin I’ve gone back to playing acoustic, which is how I started off, so the 4-track recordings might not be so different to what I’m doing now.
Does the project have a due date?
The timeline is 40-50 days and within that timeline if I hit the target for the album, I get it. If I don’t raise the full amount, I don’t recieve anything and the pledges are void. If I hit the target, everyone receives their goodies and I get to make the album. It’s quite simple. It’s a lovely idea because it puts the control of making an album back in the artist’s hands. There’s no debt to pay back, the money is in advance, if you have it to you can make your album and if you don’t? Hard luck, nobody cares enough about your music so you don’t get to record anything (laughs).
Will you return to Ireland during the pledge drive?
It just so happens that we were asked to play Cork by Southwest which is a very beautiful festival in a place called Liss Ard, which is like an old manor in the countryside surrounded by lush gardens and a lake in West Cork beside Skibbereen. We’ll go there and Patti Smith is playing too, doing a poetry gig and a rock gig and there’s some really great bands playing. It’s quite a small festival with only about twenty bands over 2 days. I’m going to play with a full band for that. I had decided to launch my Fundit campaign around that time anyway, then it just so happened that the gig was offered, so it has turned out to be great timing.
Hopefully when things work out well with Fundit, will you release Goldmine yourself?
Theoretically, at the moment I just have the name Transplant Records. Actually I did set it up as a business but I didn’t do anything else with it. If I get to make this album I will release it, and future records through Transplant. (Nina starts freestyling a jingle about her label). There’s a future for me, jingles.
You take good care of your Facebook and Twitter accounts yourself, do you enjoy communicating with your fans through social media?
I have a 3 year old daughter so I spend alot of time at home at night and I write alot. I set up this Facebook page a while ago and suddenly people were contacting me to ask if I was releasing anything. I had to tell them no, but I was always writing and I have alot of material that I haven’t released so i just wondered, what am I waiting for? I am always waiting for this perfection of an album before putting it into the world, but then what am I afraid of, am I afraid of being raw? So I told myself, I’ll just let them know this is a home recording, it’s not perfect or brilliant, it’s just a song. I started posting them on Facebook, people seem to like them, and it’s fun for me. For example, I put out a song called ‘In A Million’ a couple of months ago. When I released it I had no purpose in mind, it was just another one of those ‘I’ve been recording at home, finished working in the studio with Fabian’s songs, and then I thought I love it so much I’ll give it away, and I just posted it online like that and suddenly it was a single and it got reviewed in magazines in Ireland and I thought oh right I’m releasing it, oh ok, and I didn’t really have anything to follow it up with, because I didn’t plan it.
Are you aware of the Irish music bloggers supporting you?
I’ve been really lucky to have really good bloggers out there who are into me doing stuff, like Harmless Noise, Nialler9 and To U I Bestow, they are really supportive and I think that’s an amazing thing to have because of the people who are reading and listening to what they say. In the way that it takes out the middle man, there’s nothing to do with ‘the business’, there’s no agenda, I’m not buying ads on their site. I don’t have any big manager or company behind me offering them a deal. That’s how it works, and these music blogs are kind of bypassing the whole thing – which I’m really excited by.
It’s all very well for me to put songs up on my Facebook and share it with my friends, but it’s people like Naomi for example, who make it possible for me to go out there. Of course there’s people who take advantage, someone has stolen my site: ninahynes.com. They have a photo of some stranger with a guitar and post news about me and other bands. There are ads on it but it’s not my site at all, it’s really tacky and awful.They make money off that because of the name – but at least my Facebook page is higher up in the results, or my Bandcamp page.