The Charlotte Interview: Goitse

Cambridge Folk Festival Special

Goitse is one of the most talented young Traditional bands in Ireland and they now are making a name for themselves abroad. We caught up with them to hear more about the band and their music.

You are 5 very talented and accomplished musicians in the band.
Can you introduce yourselves and tell us more about your music?

So there are five of us in the band; Tadhg Ó Meachair on piano accordion and piano, Colm Phelan on Bodhrán, Áine Mc Geeney on fiddle, James Harvey on banjo and Conal O’Kane on guitar. We play a lively mix of old and contemporary traditional Irish music with a focus on high energy and unique arrangements. Our music is influenced by a range of musical genres and our instrumental pieces are interspersed with some vocal numbers where Áine’s distinctive style of singing takes centre-stage. 

When did you start playing together?
We are all graduates of an undergraduate degree in Irish music from the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick in Ireland. When a few of us were asked to play for a charity event during the first few weeks of college, we noticed a definite energy and spark to the music and we decided to start a band and it just went from there! 

Goitse has a unique and distinctive sound that is not only influenced by Traditional Irish music but from music all over the world. Can you say more about that?
Everyone in the band would have a variety of different musical influences. From teachers and tutors we’ve had individually to all of the different styles of music we listen to. During a typical journey in the band’s tour bus, the radio tends to flick from Irish music to bluegrass, from to jazz to classical music, and even to some rap and rock. Over the years we have recorded music from Brazil, Scandinavia, Canada and the United States. Apart from that, we’ve also collaborated with bands from all over the world including bands from Malawi and Guinea. So I guess there is a definite awareness there of a range of different musics, although we keep ourselves rooted firmly in Irish music.

You find the lyrics and the meanings behind the songs very important when you choose old traditional songs or write your own songs. In your opinion, what are good lyrics and a good song?
I think for us, because most of our music is instrumental, and therefore without lyrics, what we try to convey are different feelings and moods, with a big focus on channelling some fun and energy and getting that across to the crowd. When it comes then to choosing vocal numbers, we’re looking for a good story or message to engage with and maybe also something that might provide some contrast to other parts of the show.  

What can people expect to hear when they come to a Goitse concert?
People should expect lively, energetic music and to have good fun! They’ll hear some original music mixed with some very old music and some nice songs as well. But most of all, people should expect an all-round good time!

You have toured in many countries already and this summer you will be playing at the Cambridge Folk Festival for the first time. How do you feel about playing at one of the best Folk festivals in the world?
This is definitely a busy summer for Goitse for sure. We’ve our first-ever Spanish concert, as well as some festivals in Germany, Italy and the US. But Cambridge is definitely one of those ones that you hear about all of the time in music circles. We’re just delighted that our debut English gig is such a prestigious one and are very excited altogether. 

What are your plans for this year? New record or touring?
We’ll head in to the studio towards the end of the year to hopefully have an album ready to go for next year. That’ll be an exciting process as always. I think for most musicians, after performing, the best part of the job is that creative process and getting into the mode of composing and arranging and digging out old tunes and songs as well. Apart from that, we have a Danish tour and a German tour lined up for later in 2015. So it’ll be busy, busy, busy! 

Goitse is an informal Gaelic Irish greeting meaning “come here”. I am sure the non-Irish audience wonder how to pronounce it and even in Ireland I heard itpronounced in many different ways. Having an Irish name for the band, has that created problems when touring abroad? 
I think the different pronunciations of the band-name are a great talking point everywhere we go! It definitely isn’t the easiest to explain to non-Irish-speakers, but the fact that it is that little bit unusual makes it memorable in its own way. For us as well, we are very proud of our culture and that doesn’t stop at the music. A few of us would have played Gaelic sports growing up and Tadhg and Áine are both fluent Irish speakers. So it’s good to promote the language and show off not only the things that make Ireland unique, but also the unique ways that we as a band can explore our Irishness. 

Any questions you wished I asked?
Just make sure to check us out online at and on Youtube and Facebook and Twitter, etc. Our latest album ‘Tall Tales and Misadventures’ is available from our website, iTunes and CDBaby. All of our upcoming tour dates are at as well.
Thanks very much! 

Tour dates
May, 23, Garter Lane, Waterford City
July 17, Whelans, Dublin
August 1, Cambridge Folk Festival (UK)
August 2, Cambridge Folk Festival(UK)