› Timeoff Magazine Interview
Gary Óg and Declan McLaughlin are two singer-songwriters, from Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, who are making the lengthy flight to Australia to spread their folk rebel anthems.
The musical passion of both troubadours was cultivated from a young age. "My earliest memory of music was my ma playing Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, which was very influential and has stuck with me for life," Gary remembers.
"While I take influence from the usual suspects such as Christy Moore, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits, the greatest influence came from my surroundings," McLaughlin adds. "There's a great tradition of music in my family, and of course in Ireland there's always musicians playing sessions."
The political landscape in Scotland and Ireland provides a constant source of subject matter for both McLaughlin and Óg.
"I don't consider my songs overtly political, but I find it near impossible not to write about the day-to-day challenges facing ordinary people from my community," McLaughlin says. "In the past, I have been branded as this or that by the media because of my involvement with groups engaged in the social and economic regeneration of Northern Ireland. As a musician, I think it's hard to draw a line between what drives you in your daily existence and performing."
"A few years ago Glasgow was the rebel music heartland of the world," Gary Óg recalls. "But then politicians criminalised the music and branded everyone involved ‘sectarian'. I don't feel I have to justify myself in this regard though, as that was never the case. However I have a particular set of beliefs regarding the music of struggle and I'm unapologetic about those beliefs. So expect me to say what I mean and mean what I say, regardless of who might disagree - or deport me for it!"