Carosel are collectively made up of couple Michelle Phelan & Pete McGrane. Since 2007 the pair have been making folk pop for the masses. They divided their time between Ireland and Europe before eventually settling in the ultra cool setting of Paris.
Fast forward to 2010, the band are now trying to break into the French market (but never forgetting their Irish roots), we chat to Carosel about their past, their future, festivals and their new video Star.
How did Carosel begin?
Michelle: We met at a gig back in 2006 that Pete was playing, introductions where made, exchanges of glances…. and then Carosel came to be in 2007. We married last year in the romantic setting of Sorrento. We play pop/folk music with a French nouveau twist and are currently working on album no. 2 whilst living in Paris.
You are clearly pretty international as it is, which country has the best crowd to play to?
Thats hard to say because it really depends on the venue and the gig itself. Sometimes some shows just really work and you can have an amazing time whether it be a small venue or a large one or where it is. One of my most memorable gigs was at the Cork Jazz Fest 2 years ago in the Metropole. We were really tired before the gig as it was the 4th gig in 3 days that we were doing but when we arrived at the venue the energy from everyone there was just buzzing and it turned out to be a really fun gig.
Another great gig was in a tiny cafe in Paris a few weeks ago, we had a trambone player with us and it was just lovely. Then we did Oxegen one year and were delighted to see our tent very full. Although our main focus is now France and breaking into that market, we will always come home to Ireland, as our fans are always so supportive.
What's the best thing about being in a band in the Irish music scene right now?
Well we are not in the Irish Music scene, we moved to France as we felt it was just a natural progression for us at the time. But we will always come home to our first fans so some gigs in September is on the cards.
Since it's festival season what are your top tips to survive the festivals coming up?
Can't say im a huge fan of camping to begin with but a few years ago at Electric picnic our tent got washed out during the night and we had to abandon it and sleep in the car. So my top tip is to not be too attached to your tent at an Irish festival and always bring a blow up matress!
What has been the defining moment of the band's career so far?
In 2007 Pete surprised me by calling me up on stage to perform at song with him at one of his flamenco gigs, I hadn't prepared anything but I did know the words to Al Green's Lets stay together It was the first song we ever performed together live and the start of Carosel really. That's the night that it all began.
Getting to play at the bigger festivals is great, but it's really about continuity and loving every minute of what we do that is our defining moments.
Once you have a level head and enjoy the experiences like doing The Late Late Show and meeting the great Irish Djs and journalists and getting them on our side has been so gratifying but everyday being able to live the life we lead is defining who we are and out sound.
If you could see into the future, what would be the ideal scenario for the band in five years time?
We would love to be travelling around Europe at the least touring and enjoying the music. This year we will be releasing our EP in France and the Uk/Irl and we are really excited about that. So far the feedback in Paris has been great and we are looking forward to spreading our wings further afield soon.
What has been the most embarassing stage moment so far?
Nothing embarassing has ever happened, yet! Thankfully!
What are your musical influences, who inspires your sound?
We both vary so much in our tastes in music, so when it comes to songwriting we really have to compromise and meet in the middle. Pete is a huge Bowie fan and Bob Dylan and Paco de Lucia, Ennio Maricone etc but im a huge 60's & 70's pop fan and folk music now. (The rhythm of Gypsy Jazz which is huge in France has been really influencing us in songwriting lately, the rhythm is very infectious and just so upbeat. We just went to a big Gypsy Jazz festival outside paris 2 weeks ago )
Who are your favourite contemporary artists or acts around at the moment?
Feist, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Gonzales, Feloche, Amadou & Mariam….
And Finally, describe the idea behind the 'Star' video…
We had been visiting Paris on and off for years now and fell in love with the city. Last Decemeber we just decided to make the move there permanently. When we decided to make the video for Star we got a great producer from Oslo who used to live in Paris to come down and shoot it. Its such an incredible city and we really wanted to capture as much of it as possible so we spent 2 days running around and filming as much as we could and give a taste of Parisian life.
Carosel are hard at work on their second record, their debut Kaleidoscope is available in good music stores now, check out their newly released single above. For more information log onto their website