Lahinch-based Canadian Meg LaGrande grew up in the Cape Breton trad scene, but is now firmly embedded in Ireland, where she’s made her name through word of mouth and a series of remarkable modern re-interpretations performed on the street. 

Debut single ‘With The Dawn’ follows years of learning, exploring the Irish domestic trad scene, and appearing on other people’s projects.

“I released my debut single during the pandemic,” she says, “and I’d been sitting on a music video I filmed just before the pandemic for a long time. I actually had visa issues getting back from Canada. So once that was sorted I released the single, and that’s been great. Since then, my life has been a happy medley of creating my own music and writing, but also being a session player and delving into the world of booking for my friends, too.”

“Trad music, Cape Breton style, is what I grew up listening to and playing in Canada. It’s completely influenced by style and songwriting; my composition style is so shaped by what I absorbed as a child. I picked up the Irish style later in life, but it’s so familiar to me. I was able to translate melodies I heard inside my head into a soundscape using loop pedal technology. I live loop those sounds through the string arrangements, and the lyrics come after that.”

The whole experience has been one of exposure and learning.

“When I came to Ireland, I would sit in these sessions, and it was kind of like learning a new language, so different at first. The more I immersed myself in the new language, slowly but surely I picked up the repertoire by ear, and learned from friends, recording in sessions, and listening to CDs.”

“A lot of the opportunities that I have today come from years of busking on Grafton Street,” she explains. “I would write string arrangements around popular covers. From the street I would get offers to play at places like Miss Universe Ireland, weddings, things like that. I ended up playing a street show at Edinburgh Fringe, and from that I got headhunted for a cruise ship show. Jay, the bassist in Kodaline, brought me on the Late Late Show after inviting me to a session where he had seen me on the street, too.”

“Everything for me in Ireland has all happened because of Grafton Street. I only busk at the Edinburgh Fringe now as I have so much work, but it all goes back to Grafton Street.” 

Earlier, LeGrande’s progress came from a combination of skill and a happy chance taken. “My first introduction to the Irish music and dance world was a thing called Rhythm of the Dance. I did a study abroad at NUIG and got connected with Emma O’Sullivan, who’s a hugely famous dancer,” she recalls. “I asked if the Rhythm of the Dance needed a live band. I went back to Canada, and straight out of uni I got a tour of Japan with them, which was an amazing experience.”

“Things are cooking with a new single. It’ll be a little bit of a different direction, and I think I’ve found the right producer to mess with different sounds. That means I’ll be gigging in a more conventional way.”

“I like to be untethered, to run around the audience and stuff like that, I let loose with the wireless pack, hopping on tables and so on. Once the whole arrangement is set up, then I can let loose.”

“I write and do what is best for my sound, and that’s what I intend to do.”


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