Tiz McNamara live at Independence, Cork. Photographed by Zyanya Lorenzo.

An Irishman based in Canada, Tiz McNamara‘s success is extraordinary for a man who is still celebrating the release of his debut EP.

With music on TV shows like Hollyoaks, and having worked with the likes of Paul McCartney and Shane McGowan, McNamara’s debut release ‘April Fool’ is the product of a lifetime of work, referencing a tragedy in his early life and the impact of it.

I caught up with Tiz to talk over the launch…

First of all, congrats on the EP. It must be a very strange time to put out a debut. Has it affected your approach much?

Thank you, yeah it feels like a relief to have it out as it’s been such a long time in the works. Unfortunately, the approach had to be changed greatly, yeah. Had tour dates across North America as well as Ireland and the UK which all got cancelled as well as an incredible music video which I was very excited about having to be postponed indefinitely, but everyone has been affected by this pandemic. My family and I are healthy and happy so I can’t really complain about trivial things like live shows or videos in the bigger scheme.

Could you tell me the story behind ‘April Fool’?

As I began writing over the past few years I decided to create my debut EP or body of work and wanted it to be as cohesive and honest as possible.

I was lucky enough to be able to record with the incredible Dan Ledwell (Producer) at his lakeside studio in the woods of Nova Scotia.

Who do you think your music is ‘for fans of’?

I guess some of the more raw or stripped back songwriters like Sufjan Stevens, Damien Rice, Ben Howard or somewhere in that realm.

I see the EP is dedicated to your late dad and brother. Are they significant figures in your musical past, or is the emotional weight of it that led to the dedication?

Yeah, I lost my brother and dad when I was 10 months old in a boating accident off the coast of Ballinskelligs Co. Kerry. Obviously this tragedy shaped me hugely as a person and ironically their anniversary is April fool’s day and when I began writing I felt compelled to write the title track of the EP about finding out they would never come home.

How has Toronto impacted on your music so far? Do you think the move is permanent for you?

Not so sure about permanent, as we’re living in Toronto and I see myself ‘settling’ somewhere more calm and quiet. I love the busy city but not sure it’s the place I will be making music forever, but who knows. For the next few years at least it seems perfect.

How did the Emmerdale and Hollyoaks link-ups happen, and how did they feel to you?

Both just came through a publisher I was signed with in the UK at the time. Hollyoaks actually used my music 8 times in 1 season which was crazy. I’m not a fan of either show hugely but seeing your music on a screen for the first time is always kind of cool.

What about the work alongside Paul McCartney and Shane McGowan? I’d imagine those were great moments?

Yeah, Paul McCartney has been an idol of mine since I was very young. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him a few times at this stage and he is such a genuine, down to earth guy. Working on that project with so many established artists was great to give me a motivational boost early on in my career.

You’ve done very well with streaming, too. Musicians seem to have mixed views on streaming services – what’s your take?

Yeah, for me a lot of musicians who don’t really understand it or who are lazy like to give out about it as it’s an easy target. For me, it’s been an incredible vehicle to get my music out to literally millions of people and also been a really good source of income.

I think when people give out about the artist rates they compare it to the likes of iTunes, whereas for me it’s closer to radio play royalties. It’s all about playlists, and if you can get on the big one, like on larger radio stations, the pay builds quickly. But if you’re not willing to work and happier playing the victim them yeah it’s very easy to complain about.

Is the EP a warm-up for an album? If so, how far along with the songwriting for a full-length release are you?

I think another EP is on the horizon first. I’ve been lucky enough to have some really interesting publishers and labels reach out so just planning the next steps but I think an album for me now is a little premature.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope to keep writing and touring. Ultimately writing more for other artists as well as for screen would be my dream but right now I am really happy making music and enjoying life. I’m excited for this shutdown to hopefully lift soon and create with as many people as possible over the next year or so.


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