Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I had various different influences when I first picked up a guitar but I think the main one was Jack White from The White Stripes. His playing sparked something inside me and I knew that this what was what I needed to do. Once I started playing I had an amazingly supportive guitar teacher in high school called David Cowan who gave me all the time he possibly had – he even let me miss some classes so I could have an extra lesson! I owe a lot to David as I believe those first experiences with music are crucial.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I have had many and they are constantly changing the older and more experienced I get. I always come back to my core influences of musicians and artists but I take a huge amount from the Blues. Delta Blues musicians such as Son House and Robert Johnson are incredibly inspiring for me. The Blues forces you to explore your emotions and challenges you to see what you can do with less. I love that – it’s music making at its most genuine and honest. At the moment my biggest influences are my friends and peers within music. I know a lot of talented, wonderful people and that really inspires me to be the best version of myself I can be, musically or just personally. I also think just living life and experiencing its ups and downs is the biggest influencer of all. There are lessons to be learned and a lot to be gained if we can be patient and look hard enough.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Finding my place in the musical world, finding my musical voice and personality. On a more practical note, traveling/teaching and finding the time to practice! No one prepares you for that, teaching all day and then having the energy and time to fit your own practice in is solid work! I think back on the amount of time I had and wasted back when I was studying in the Conservatoire. Hindsight is class!
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
My proudest live performance was with Tom Kersten’s G Plus Ensemble, Karen Hut and The Ligeti Quartet where we premiered new works by Max Richter, Joby Talbot and John Metcalfe at the International Guitar Summit at Kings Place 2017. That was a really special moment for me. To have the opportunity to premiere those incredible compositions for the first time and to have the honour to work with Ligeti Quartet, Karen and Tom was a career highlight for me. I have to thank Tom for the opportunity!
A recording I was really proud of was Toru Takemitu’s piece Equinox that was recorded last year in Berlin with the incredible Open Strings Berlin team Nico & Hendrik. I actually became really good friends with them post filming, so I was very happy about that as well, they are beautiful people.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I like performing in places where the classical guitar doesn’t normally go, over the years I have tried to perform in unique places and more urban music venues like Bar Bloc in Glasgow. I have also performed with Sofar Sounds in several different countries. So if anyone would like me to play in their kitchen for example, I’m absolutely keen for that! I’m also not a fussy eater…
Who are your favourite musicians?
Jeff Buckley, Pavel Steild, John Frusciante, Buckethead, Explosions in the Sky, Beethoven, Schumann, Bruce Springsteen, 2pac. The list is endless!
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I saw one of my favourite bands from Australia called Dirty Three perform in Glasgow at the Oran Mor back in 2012. The trio played and they had the entire room in awe.
They played a song called “Lullaby for Christie” and the audience was in complete silence, everyone dipped their heads and it was like a calm had come over the room. A real powerful force. It was beautiful and I have never experienced anything like it since. Something inside me clicked that night, that it would be my biggest goal or achievement to reach that level of sheer honesty and expression.
As a composer, how would you describe your compositional style/musical language?
For the compositions on my upcoming album, they are mainly guitar driven. Some people have described the music as quite ‘cinematic’ or ‘ethereal’ but for me they capture my feelings at this moment of my career. It’s like a window into my musical influences.
Who are you main influences?
All of the musicians I have mentioned before and more! My brothers, my parents and my closest friends. All the teachers who have given me their time and patience. Anyone who believed in me.
How do you work (as a composer)?
I am fairly new to composition; I only started to really write music for my upcoming album Future Relics. Most of the works are inspired by past life events, film and emotions. It was very much a hands on the instrument, improvised process. I didn’t write anything down or notate it in any way. I would have a concept in my head or a feeling and I would search to find a sound or create an atmosphere that was true to that. The writing of the pieces was very of the moment and then shared with other musicians who performed the music on the album with me. Writing for this album has definitely given me the confidence to pursue it and I’m really excited to see were it takes me.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
I think progress and happiness are good definitions of success. As long as you are honest with what you are doing and true to yourself, that’s all that matters. You define your own success.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Much of the same from above, I think you should listen to your gut, practice hard and efficiently, know when to take breaks and when to push yourself. Most importantly be happy and believe in what you are doing. Have goals and stick to them. I consider myself very lucky to be a musician; it’s a true gift and a passion. I think realising that is key. DON’T GIVE UP! THE WORLD NEEDS YOU!
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Still playing/writing music, still happy…more time to practice.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
That’s a hard question! I was hoping you could tell me!
I think to find your passion in life is happiness.
What is your most treasured possession?
My guitar maybe!
I also have this wee frog ornament, it’s like a china frog, glued onto a piece of rock. It’s one of my earliest childhood memories, it’s always been in my parents house and I have it now. I have no idea what it is or where it came from but I love it so much.
I asked my mum why she bought it and she said “because he looked sad.” Amazing.
What is your present state of mind?
Happy and excited but also scared! A healthy dosage.
Kevin Cahill’s debut album Future Relics is released on 27 May 2019 (single released 22 May) and is “a cinematic soundscape of sorts, fusing two completely different genres of music to coexist as one.” He has collaborated with STRATA frontman and drummer Graham Costello, jazz-vocalist Georgia Cécile, Scottish violinist Abigail Young, cornetist from Kinbrae minimalist duo Mike Truscott and producer/pianist Luigi Pasquini.