By David Hennessy
Singing and guitar playing sensation Galia Arad has toured with Jools Holland and recorded with Shane MacGowan. A refreshing talent with a voice reminiscent of Norah Jones combined with a catchy and a guitar strumming style that sounds simple but blends folk with pop and jazz. Turning her hand to fun numbers and more serious and introspective tunes with equal effectiveness, Galia has built up a loyal army of fans all over.
Now based in Dublin, Galia can be seen performing at O’Shea’s pub in Luton this Saturday. With sultry vocals and bags of musical talent, the O’Shea’s crowd will see just what impressed The Pogues frontman.
“I am looking forward to coming over the UK,” Galia tells The Irish World. “I am not looking forward to the flight. I am a little bit nervous flying but I feel the trips I’ve taken to UK have been especially bumpy. And flying Ryanair is never pleasant.”
Originally from Indiana, USA, what attracted Galia to Ireland? “I toured here a couple of times before and I just fell in love with it. I love the vibe here, the music that comes out of here.”
How did Galia go about enlisting Shane MacGowan’s help for her last album, entitled Ooh La Baby? “It’s a concept album about falling in love with an Irish boy a few years ago which I’ll never do again hopefully,” she laughs. “It’s all about that long distance thing. It dawned on me: I would love Shane MacGowan to do the liner notes on this. I’ve been a fan of his since I was in high school.”
Like the relationship the album was based on, The Atlantic Ocean posed problems for Galia’s dream collaboration as she tried to reach MacGowan’s manager, Joey Cashman: “They don’t use email so I was literally calling long distance from my boss’s house every single day. I don’t like to bug people or push people. Everyday I would call Joey. I’d be like: ‘I’m the liner notes girl’. And every day he would be like: ‘Aah, f**k off, call back tomorrow’. And so I would just call back the next day. Then finally, maybe a month or two after I had reached him, I got a phone call from Joey which was crazy, I had never got a phone call from him. He said: ‘Shane and I listened to your record and we were really surprised. We don’t think it’s shite. Shane might actually be interested in producing some of the tracks’. And at that time I was planning on coming to Ireland. He said: ‘Well when you’re over we can book a recording studio, we’ll play it by ear’.”
‘Not shite’ may be high praise indeed from Shane MacGowan and was an indication that Galia’s dream may come true: “We came to Ireland, we opened for a band called Republic of Loose, Joey set that up for us which was wonderful and that’s the night I met Shane. He came to see us play: Completely surreal. The last day I was in Ireland, Joey helped me book a recording studio. We got there at 10am, recorded a few things for fun and then ten hours later, Shane shows up.
“The day was stressful because we were leaving for the US and I was wondering if my dreams were going to come true or not. Ten hours later, he walks in. It was stressful and surreal and amazing. Nothing can ever take that day away from me, it was the best.”
While in studio, Shane sang on Galia’s track, Four Leaf Lover Boy. A beautiful ballad, the video for which can be found on YouTube. Did Shane the man live up to the legend? “He definitely lived up to the legend that he is, even turning up ten hours late. You can’t control him, you just don’t want to. He would say these ridiculous things that were so inappropriate and I could never use on a record but these things would come out of his mouth, little gems I would never thought of. It was really cool to see how he works.”
What Galia achieved is testament to what can come back when you reach out to people: “I take lessons from that. I have problems asking for things, that can be annoying for me so now I always think back to those days where I so desperately wanted to work with Shane. You just have to ask for it, whether it is international calls every day on your boss’ line for a month , it all worked out really well. Somehow, I just try to shoot for the stars all the time.”
Galia Arad performs at O’Shea’s in Luton on February 23. For more information, go to: http://www.galiaarad.typepad.com/my-blog/.