How you can make Carol's Christmas
Can she fund it? Yes she can! That's the fervent hope of Carol Keogh who, like many of her peers, is financing the recording of her new album by running a campaign on the internet.
The Dubliner is hoping that fans with credit cards will make her dream come true by pledging money to her online Fund It project.
As avid listeners to great DJs such as Donal Dineen and Pearl will know, Carol is one of the finest Irish singers of her generation, having carved out a niche on the Dublin music scene with previous bands The Plague Monkeys and The Tycho Brahe (later renamed Tychonaut) as well as being a leading light of Ken McHugh's Autamata project.
Carol's new record, though, will be her first as a solo artist and she has assembled a new backing band, The City Fathers, to help fulfil her vision.
"Fundamentally what I am doing is pre-selling the album for people who want to buy it, in whatever format," explains Carol. "Then there are other rewards for people who might be interested in receiving other types of memorabilia or merchandise.
"Others just want to contribute because they have been following me for a long time. I have had a good few of those. In the first week, fairly big sums were pledged. If someone's willing to pledge big money I'm open to coming around to their house to cook dinner for them in their kitchen! We can discuss it! No one's gone for that one yet. I've pre-sold a few of my paintings too."
Carol is just one of numerous Irish musicians out there who are cutting out the middleman and going straight to the source – their fans – to finance their new record.
My namesake, ex-Fat Lady Sings singer Nick Kelly, financed the recording of his first solo album Between Trapezes this way in the mid-1990s. More recently, the likes of Chequerboard, Steve Wall and Nina Hynes have used the new avenues opened up on the web.
'You're looking at a new model of patronage," says Carol. "The old models have broken down, certainly in the music industry. Revenue streams have been decimated. A generation has grown up in the last decade for whom paying for music in any form is anathema. We have to find a new way – because otherwise all you're left with is the X Factor.
"The way that Fund It works is that you set a target and you have to reach or exceed the target before any money's debited. And if you don't reach the target, you get nada. Hence the pressure.
"Everybody says you get a spike at the start and a spike at the end. We're in the middle of an eight-week campaign. I've been pulling in favours left, right and centre."
A number of the songs from the new record, to be called Mongrel City and provisionally set for release next spring, are streamed for free on her SoundCloud page. Each showcases Carol's warm, soulful voice and her striking sensitivity to her craft. I look forward to hearing the finished studio versions.
"Nothing is finished in terms of recording at this stage, so I've put clips of video and snippets of demo recordings on my site so people can hear what I've been up to," says Carol.
'Fundamentally, I couldn't afford to finance the record myself – to go into a studio, to mix and to master the record. This isn't a bedroom-type recording that I'm planning on doing. It's not what the music requires – we're a full band. That's how these songs evolved."
Is the title Mongrel City a nod to how our capital has evolved in the 21st Century?
"It's a reference to Dublin. It's a quote from a new song called 'The Relics Of St Valentine' which is not a personal narrative but a broken love song; it's partly about falling in and out of love with a city rather than another person. A lot of the songs were written towards the end of the boom – which seems like a distant memory now. And it's foreseeing that the bubble was gonna burst, and maybe not liking some of the values that came with that boom.
"'Grand Parade' is about some of the nastier values of the boom and the suspicion that there were some dodgy dealings going on."
Does she feel any pressure now it's her name on the record?
"Having been in a situation where I've been pretty heartbroken over two bands that I invested a lot in, and a certain amount of material got lost in the cracks, I felt I owed it to the back catalogue in a way to stay out there and at some stage be able to revive it."
You can visit Carol Keogh's Fund It page at www.fundit.ie/project/mongrel-city-debut-album-by-carol-keogh. Her website is www.carolkeogh.ie and you can hear her music at http://soundcloud.com/carolkeogh