First Published April 2018
UNA KNOWS THE ‘KODE’ TO SUCCESS
Una Healy just doesn’t stand still. You probably saw her guest-presenting The Six ‘O Clock Show on TV3 last week, and that’s at the same time as promoting her brand new single, ‘Never See Me Cry.’ And not forgetting, of course, her first venture into the world of fashion with the launch of her fabulous range of shoes, the Una Healy Original Collection, which you can find in KODE (see Una and Kara from KODE pictured at the Dublin launch below) right here in Tullamore. But as ever, despite her crazy schedule, the lady from Tipperary was happy to chat about it all, and it was my pleasure to catch up with Una again to do just that last week.
Una‘s brand new single, the gloriously rockin’, Never See Me Cry, is out now. But before we spoke about that, I wanted to ask Una if this release meant that her debut album, ‘The Waiting Game’ (still one of my favourite collections of 2017! If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out! ) had served its time now, so to speak, seeing as Never See Me Cry is a brand new track completely?
“Well it’s never really going to be in the past, especially now with streaming and everything, your music is always there somewhere all the time. People can always go back and listen to that anytime. But yeah, I am moving forward with new music. And it’s a slightly different sound, but it’s still very much me, just maybe another side of me that people may not have seen in the first album. This is more a rocky-poppy sound. Album number two is definitely underway at this stage, I’ve written a lot of songs again and we’re getting around to working on the heavy production on some of those tracks. I can’t wait to start bringing out some more new music again. I’ve been writing away over the past twelve months, so there’s plenty of it in the pipeline.”
Never See Me Cry is a class track with a super-cool video to go along with. Una has called the song one of ’empowerment.’ I asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling me a little bit more about that…
“Yeah, it is. Well, I guess if you have a listen to the lyrics it’s kinda like you’re sticking your finger up at someone to say, ‘Well you’re not gonna get the better of me anymore, I’m movin’ on!’ [laughs]. It’s about how someone at one point might have dominated you in a way, but you’ve still come through it stronger for it all. So in that way, with regard to someone who may have walked all over you, it’s about how you’ve grown away from them, grown stronger, and moved on with your life. The whole you’re ‘never gonna see me cry’ part, is about how they may well have seen you cry in the past and that, but now you’re over them, ya know that sort of way? And it’s not just about a relationship, although it could be your other half or whatever, but it could also be that someone you worked with used to bully you, or a friend who may have been like that, either. Just people who weren’t good for you in your life. The song is saying thank God you’re gone, cos’ I’m all the better for it!”
Una is back on the road again in June for her Voice Inside of Me tour, what can fans look forward to at those shows?
“They’re all quite intimate venues, so it’s going to be an acoustic set-up. I’ll have bass and keys with me, as well as acoustic guitar. I’ll be playing my first album, as well as some new music including ‘Never See Me Cry’ and some other tunes that people won’t have heard before, and some covers that I like to throw in as well. It’ll be my first proper solo tour, so I’m really looking forward to it. Doing acoustic shows is very different [to the likes of what I’ve done with The Saturdays], but I do feel very comfortable doing it. I like everything feeling very organic and natural. For me even to attend a gig, I love going to the more intimate venues because the audiences are always more appreciative, they really listen. And I guess a lot of my songs are like storytelling in a way, and I like to introduce each one by explaining why I wrote it and what it’s about. So you kinda get an insight into my life too when you come along to a gig!”
As if Una didn’t have enough exciting things happening as far as the music side of her life goes right now, she’s also entered the world of fashion in a huge way, launching her own Una Healy Original Collection range of shoes. How did that all come about?
“Look, I love shoes, I think like lots of girls, I have a huge weakness for them! Ever since I was a little girl, trying on my mum’s big stilettos and wearing them walking around the house and the town, and everywhere with them! [laughs]. So to have my own shoe collection is literally like a dream come true, I could never have imagined it. We’ve got some close family friends who have a shoe store in Castleblaney, in Monaghan, and they’d have the most amazing shoes in there. And we were talking once, just sayin’, ‘God, can you imagine havin’ your own shoe collection!’. And they went and put me in touch with some people that actually design shoes. So we chatted about it, and collaborated on it, and to see them come to life from just sketches on a page is amazing. I’ve obviously had to keep fairly quiet about it as well, I don’t think anybody realised I was about to do this. But they seem to be going down really well with people and I can’t wait to see everyone wearing them.”
With something like ninety-four different pairs in the collection, how did Una enjoy the creative process involved? Did it bring a similar sense of satisfaction to songwriting?
“Yeah, there’s a lot! It’s another part of my creative side, and it’s nice to explore those different things as well. I think fashion and music are quite closely related anyway. A lot of people come to shows to see what you’re wearing. And in interviews as well, a lot of the time I’ll get asked who are my fashion inspirations. The tag-line on the shoes says, ‘Rock It’, so I’ll be rockin’ them on tour now! [laughs].”
Was there a part of the design process that was particularly hard, I wondered? Maybe something that people would never even dream of when they see a finished pair?
“Well it’s a huge creative process from the idea stage right the way through to actually producing the show, ya know. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m working with a team of professionals who have spent years studying what they do, and are great at it. But I do have a huge influence on the creative side. But it’s not like I’m in the factory sewing them or anything like that! [laughs]. But the ideas behind everything, and the influences, we sat down and collaborated on all of that together.”
Will Una‘s shoe collection just be the beginning of what she does in fashion?
“Well it would be great if I could expand in other directions, yeah. But I’m delighted to have the shoes for now anyway, so we’ll see what happens.”
Una‘s creative side has been well exercised of late, because she was also involved in a very interesting project with the Royal Mail, creating a unique and limited edition Mothers’ Day card…
“Yeah, that was lovely to be a part of. They’re kind of like keepsakes to have, ya know. Sort of like with my little girl, I like to keep anything that she makes. And my little boy, Tadhg, he’s starting to make little things in nursery as well and I’ve got a drawer full of it all. So it was great for me to be able to create something like that with those Mothers’ Day cards. They have a lot of influences from my own life, and of course it’s something that I can pass on to my own mother as well.”
Musically, March was also a big month for Una, as she performed at the C2C Country Music Festival in London, as well as at the Belfast Nashville Songwriters’ Festival. I asked her how she enjoyed both experiences, but particularly Belfast, given that it was a ‘songwriter’ event.
“Oh it was lovely to be back on stage again! Because I’d been in the studio for quite a lot of the last twelve months, so getting back out in front of an audience was amazing. And the fact that it was a songwriters’ festival in Belfast, I took the audience right back to the first song I ever wrote, and then some that I wrote throughout my teens, and the ones that I won the Glinsk International Song Contest with back in 2004 and 2006, so it was like a real musical journey for me as well as the audience. That was a great opportunity for me to do that.”
A lot of songwriters say that it’s sometimes only years after they’ve actually written a certain song, that it suddenly becomes clear to them exactly what the song was about, or what they were trying to say at the time. I wondered if that was something Una had ever experienced?
“Well I more tend to write about what’s happening at the time, ya know. Like, I was in the studio yesterday and the day before and we were working on a song about something that’s happening at the moment. It’s a great way of getting your feelings out, by getting them into a song! Sometimes out of a negative, something so positive can come, like a song, ya know! And I like to write in common feelings, so that other people can hear the song and make it their own as well. And the most special thing for me, as a songwriter, is to hear that your songs are helping people in different aspects of their life. Even my new song, ‘Never See Me Cry’, already some people are saying that’s really their song for right now in their lives.”