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Interview: Sharon Corr

10 min read

Over the past 20 years, singer, songwriter and Queen of the violin Sharon Corr has engraved her name into music history books. Finding global success alongside her siblings Andrea, Caroline and Jim in The Coors in the mid-nineties with hits like Runaway, Breathless and So Young, Sharon toured the globe and found a familiar resting spot at the top of the charts for a number of years as part of the multi-million selling Irish quartet. During those years however, Sharon took more of a backseat with sister Andrea taking on the front woman role of the band.

Sharon Corr The Same SunWith The Coors on hiatus, Sharon has spread her wings and taken to the studio to record as a solo artist. Her first album, 2010’s Dream Of You, produced a couple of radio friendly hits for the musician and saw her take to the road and introduce this new chapter in her life to her dedicated fan base all over the world.  Fast forward 4 years and Sharon is getting ready to release her sophomore album The Same Sun in her Irish homeland and the UK. The album sees Sharon back in the studio with long-time collaborator and producer Mitchell Froom and is set for release in September alongside a national tour.

Prior to the release of The Same Sun, we were lucky enough to speak with Sharon about her career, her latest studio album and touring plans for 2014. Here is what she had to tell us…

Brendon Veevers: Hi Sharon. Where in the world does our interview find you?

Sharon Corr: Currently I’m in Costa Brava – I had a show in Castillo d’empuries last night – today I fly to London.

BV: You are preparing for the UK and Ireland release of your new album The Same Sun. Firstly, can you tell us a little about the new record and the main inspiration behind the new collection of songs?

SC: My experiences inspire me – I love writing – it’s like the best therapy in the world- you get to set free all your innermost feelings or innermost demons – depending on the day – the good, the bad – the love, the hate – the joy, the sorrow – it’s an incredible release and sometimes a difficult journey to experience. I believe an artist should be raw, should be vulnerable, should be brave because we all are truly and it’s that depth of emotion that touches us all when we listen to a great song and makes us feel not alone. This album is all me – everything I felt and thought for the last couple of years has moulded this album. It feels sometimes very retro and sometimes progressive – like myself I suppose.

BV: What does the title of the record mean to you? Why did you choose to name the album The Same Sun?

SC: The Same Sun – title track – was inspired by my trip to Tanzania with Oxfam. This was one of the most powerful experiences of my life – I was there as an ambassador for Oxfam and to work on their new campaign – “ending poverty start with women”, I met the most incredible women working against the odds, with no voice in their community, living in dire poverty, raising their children and suffering terrible violence. They talked to me of there lives and hopes and worries and experiences. It was very emotional and sometimes so uplifting how they still could smile and dance and have hope. The song was inspired by them – I didn’t want to right a charity song telling people want they should do or how they should feel, it’s a song reflecting what I saw there, the feeling of being there, the beauty of the women and the landscape and the deep sun.

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BV: The record has been released in other territories with the UK being the last to get the album. Why is that? Was it a matter of gauging its success in other territories first?

SC: No it wasn’t, I have been slowly making my way round the world and I have been releasing as I go. I started in Brazil last year as I had 2 concerts in São Paolo and had never been there before and I thought I would coincide the release with the concerts and launch the album from there, it’s exciting to go to new places. I approach my release very organically and like to be in the territory doing shows and promotion when releasing, the UK is a big territory and I wanted to give it the time it needs to really do it well. September is perfect from me and I have a 3 month lead up to be available to go in and out as needed and then I tour.

BV: The Same Sun is a follow up to your debut solo album Dream of You which was released back in 2010. What would you say are the main differences, musically and artistically between Dream of You and The Same Sun?

SC: Dream Of You was a more lush production, beautiful and clean. I wanted this album to be very raw and organic and therefore more vulnerable. Both reflect the stages of my life I was in when recording and writing them.

BV: On the new album you worked with Mitchell Froom who has worked with a long list of musical icons over the last few decades. You also worked with Mitchell with The Corrs Unplugged and Home releases. What was the attraction for you to work with Mitchell again on The Same Sun?

SC: Mitchell has always been my all time favourite producer! As soon as I heard Woodface by Crowded House I was smitten, his style is so organic and musically intelligent. When The Corrs were to do the MTV Unplugged album we were asked who we would like to produce and I said Mitchell. We got on like a house on fire from the beginning and have a great understanding of each other musically, I really like his style when it comes to production it’s so true to the artist and so real.

Sharon Corr

BV: I want to ask you about your creative process. What are you like in the recording studio when you are recording an album? Is the recording of a new record a spontaneous process or is there a blueprint that you go in with that remains in place during the recording of an album?

SC: I write mostly on piano, I usually start with a chord progression I’ve been playing around with and work the melody and lyrics from there, it’s a very instinctive process almost like I follow it. This time I decided to write with other people as well as on my own, I wanted to experience how that would be. I know for me musically it would broaden my horizons and take me out of any safe zones that I like to stay in and therefore make it more vulnerable and feel that way to the listener. It’s a very vulnerable record, straight form the heart. I wrote with Don Mescal on some of the tracks and Mitchell on a few and the rest myself. It was a joy to make. The studio process was extremely organic. Mitchell and I would sit at the piano with an old tape recorder and work through the bones of the songs and adjust as we felt needed. Then he would bring the musicians in – drums/ bass/ guitar and we would play with me singing (just like a band on stage) the song through a few times live, usually no more than 5 times and record each take. Generally we would know which take was the magic one, keep that and then add keyboards or piano or we a string section depending on what was needed.

BV: You found international superstardom in The Corrs but during those years you took on a less vocal role with Andrea fronting the band as far as lead vocals were concerned. What has it been like over these past few years being the one delivering all of the vocals on tour and in the studio?

SC: It’s been a joy. I love singing and being out front has developed my vocal style and ability more. It’s wonderful to sing and express completely my own music and lyrics, it’s like the complete experience for me.

BV: What have your brothers and sisters thought of your solo career and have they been coming to the shows?

SC: They have been hugely supportive and yes they have all come to a few shows.

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BV: You have always been able to keep complete control of your music and direction rather than allowing a label to dictate and drive you in a direction that you may not be wanting to go in. Is having that creative control important to you and is it something you have always pushed for during your solo career and during your time in The Corrs?

SC: I have and we have always had total control. The band or the artist is the music, if you give someone else control you make someone else’s record. If you are good enough -which of course you should be – you should have a strong instinct for how your record should sound. Choosing your producer is the most important thing because you need their objectivity and their sensitivity to who you are as an artist. A record company is, well used to be anyway, more of the bank roller for an artist and their record and where they should really come into their own is in the promotion and marketing of the record.

BV: With having achieved global success with The Corrs, is there pressure on you from yourself or your labels to replicate that success in your solo career or are you taking a more laid-back approach to your solo releases?

SC: I feel I am on my own path, I don’t not compare myself to The Corrs and am braking new territory as an artist all the time and making my own way. I am very ambitious and always want the best for my records and shows and feel the harder I work the more justified any success is.

BV: Since finding the enormous success that you did in the 90’s, the music industry has changed dramatically. Many brick and mortar record stores are closed and the digital era has taken a firm grip on the industry over the last decade. Many artists are also opting to go down the independent path as opposed to signing with a major label. What are your thoughts of the industry in general and do you think it is heading in a positive direction?

SC: Many artists have no choice but to go down the indie root because the record companies are on their knees! I have my own record company and make my own records and depending on the territory I work with different record companies. In some places I’m with Parlophone – others Warner – it’s more bespoke these days! I find it’s more important to work with a company that’s hands on and genuinely into your record and have ambition for themselves and what they can achieve by putting a lot of thought and hard work into promoting it.

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BV: What’s the most enjoyable part of your job as a solo artist, having come from so many years performing within a band?

SC: Always on stage performing, it just make me feel so utterly alive and vibrant and I love that very special relationship with the audience.

BV: With all the international touring and recording that you have been doing over the past few years as a solo artist, how do you deal with being away from your family so such long periods of time. Do they join you on the road or does Skype and FaceTime help with the distance?

SC: Skype is a god send!!

BV: What would you say has been the biggest thing that you have learned about yourself personally and as a musician since launching your solo career?

SC: That I need it more than anything. Being true to yourself is the single mot important thing – I’ve never felt so right as I do right now.

BV: What can you tell us about upcoming tour plans? Are there plans to take The Same Sun on the road for fans in the UK and Ireland during the remaining months of 2014?

SC: Yes I tour the UK and Ireland in September and I’m sure there will be more dates later in the year.

Sharon Corr’s new album The Same Sun is out in the UK and Ireland on September 8th.