Oisin McAuley of Danu:
doing his best

An interview by Kaitlin Hahn,
21 August 2005

Fiddle player Oisin McAuley grew up in County Donegal, where he was surrounded by music -- not only in his family, but also in his community. He picked up on this and developed his talent early in life, so it is no surprise that he is part of Danu, one of the top traditional Irish bands in the world.

When asked who his influences were, the first name he gave was Altan. "They were a good example for me because they could travel and play," he remembered, during a brief respite at Milwaukee Irish Fest. "Now, I also listen to bluegrass," he said. "I like how they set up their tunes." He went on to say that he is influenced by jazz music, too.

"Sometimes, my friends and I accompany each other while one of us improvises on our instrument," he explained. To facilitate the different styles of music, McAuley plays a unique, five-stringed violin.

He writes tunes as well. "My writing happens in phases. Sometimes, there will be nothing for six months, and then I'll write 10 tunes at once," he said. Perhaps these phases are because of all the touring he does with the band. "You have to work the band into your life," said McAuley. "It is really difficult to get family together when you are touring, especially when there are children." This is the hardest part of being a touring musician for him, he admitted.

He does not want to give this up, though. McAuley enjoys his shows with Danu. "Traditional Irish music brings out the happiest and saddest things in life," he said. "It can get you going and make you sad in one evening." He also said most of the tunes he performs are really old and come from the people, which is why all of these feelings arise in just one performance.

An example of this can be heard on Danu's latest album, When All is Said & Done. A new album is also expected out in a couple of months. "For Danu, recording happens pretty quick because everyone is there. It's different, but good, when you can do a recording, yourself." McAuley enjoys doing this because he can take his time and fix things until they are just the way he likes them. He would like to do more of his own stuff in the future. "I still see myself playing," he said, "I still see Danu playing together, as well."

When asked if there was anyone that he would like to play with someday, he said that he would like to do a performance with a variety of fiddle players -- "an Unusual Suspects show," he said.

McAuley is motivated to keep going because fiddling is what he does best. "I enjoy doing this, because I get to meet other musicians, but really, I ask myself, 'What do I do best?' and for me, this is it."

- Rambles
written by Kaitlin Hahn
published 10 September 2005