Meet A G.E.T. 1 Artist: Brian Horgan
“See your relationship with your art as a lifelong one”
NYFA talks with idir artist Brian Horgan before his New York premier at NYFA’s DUMBO offices on January 16. Join us that evening for an exhibition reception and performance.
NYFA: Tell us about the development of your latest work?
BH: My latest show is a collection of newly written songs and related cover material from artists that inspire me and are linked to what I want to express.
I’ve written the songs over the last two years and when I look at them as a body of work the connection between them is really about being yourself, being who you forgot you were and learning to be comfortable in your skin. All issues that I’ve had to face up to personally and am grateful I got the opportunity to look at.
The songs are written from a personal perspective with the aim of creating a universality to them. At moments we’ve all wondered who we really are. What we’re meant to do? How do we unshape and shape ourselves?
Over twelve months, I performed several workshops of the material in Dublin. Their aim was to hone the performance; changing the set list, the flow of the dialogue between songs and adding new songs to ensure the audience became immersed in an encouraging and emotional experience. At one of these workshops a representative from the Abbey Theatre (Ireland’s national theatre) attended and invited me to launch the show within the theatre. A great honour to perform in that venue and a wonderful night. I’m excited to get to perform it in NYFA on Jan 16th. 2015.
NYFA: What were the obstacles you faced while working on this process?
BH: My biggest obstacle has historically always been myself. As the middle child of a family of seven, I was happiest keeping the peace and ensuring other people were made to feel happy. This is a benefit as you learn to create harmony but there comes a time when you lose sight of what it is you need or believe in. You end up placing the focus on others till you no longer know what your own choices are. The result is moments of ‘stop’. Do I keep moving? Do I keep putting my own voice out there? Am I taking the space from someone else?
I’m a great believer that the right books find you and I’ve kept up on my road by reading wonderful books by Victor Frankle, Stephen Pressfield, Anthony De Mello among others. All have kept me moving when the monsters come! They have kept me putting one foot in front of the other which is all any of us can do. They are helping me move from being to becoming.
NYFA: What was the inspiration behind your latest work?
BH: My inspiration has always been linked to family and identity. My sister passed away in the last couple of years. It’s the shadow side of having a large family, someone dies young. It moved my own mortality from a concept into reality. This was the gift she left me with.
It forced me to look at who I really was rather than who I wanted to be perceived as. It made me look at my family, how it has shaped who I am, and how I now wanted to forge something new for myself while respecting the good of what was there.
I wanted to sing words that were personal, of my own, to find out what words I actually had to say. What was my view on love, life. What gives me comfort? What dreams do I really have?
NYFA: What is your favorite part of your creative process?
BH: There are many. Hearing the song come into your head for the first time is a magical moment. You just know. Or hearing someone say something and at the most unexpected time you feel a “lightbulb.”
Another fantastic part is the “connection” moment when you’re performing and the audience and yourself become one person, all you feel is the mutual energy between you ebbing and flowing. That’s rather fab.
NYFA: Where do you like to go for inspiration?
BH: A good dance floor is hard to beat! I also love long lunches with friends; their stories get me thinking. Like many artists I find comfort and muses in nature and long walks. In Dublin I live beside the Phoenix Park which is the biggest city park in Europe. It’s inhabited by a large herd of deer. They are beyond inspiring as their movement, colours and rituals reflect the seasons. The park itself is also a living testament to a life in one year. Very beautiful. Also my family is funny, sensitive, complex, catholic, insecure, strong and above all inspiring.
Music wise I’m always drawn to any singer who moves you and tells a story, Charles Aznavour, Bette Midler, Michael Feinstein, David Gates, Harry Chapin etc. and Gospel Music i.e. the music of theatre and churches.
NYFA: How would you describe your perspective/ vision as an artist?
BH: I want to connect to people on an emotional level. At my shows I want people to feel. To feel sentimental, sad, uplifted. I aim to blow the dust off their memories so that their heart beats in their chests with a renewed beat. That for the time we’re together they feel all emotions but mostly that they feel the strength in vulnerability, the courage they have in just being themselves, some memories that are special to them and above feel we’re all in this together.
My approach to doing that is by a mixture of humor in my dialogue coupled with irony free sincerity about issues we all face in my music.
NYFA: What advice would you give emerging/struggling artists?
BH: For me the best piece of advice I got was to see your relationship with your art as a lifelong one. That it’s there with you throughout your life, through ups and downs. That it will always be there and its purpose is to help you experience your life fully.
When I let that sink in, it removed the gun from my head i.e. “I have to be this successful” or even more stressful; “it’s such and such an event that will be the big break.”
That kind of thinking creates a tension and an eagerness to please that is so anti-art. Once I could get me head around the fact that I’ll be doing this for life in some shape or form I freed myself up to just do it, just move into it, just be it. There was no clock that needed to be punched. It made me more patient and gave me the luxury of time, my own time.
Join us on January 16 for an intimate evening reception and performance by Brian accompanied by Tara Novak (Musical Director), David Gardos (Piano), and Danny Weller (Bass).
G.E.T. 1 continues until January 30. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM.