The Conal Mooney Interview
This week we interviewed Conal Mooney, guitarist of the band Ill-Fitting Thoughts and former Morningside School of Music guitar pupil. We ask Conal about his journey through music from childhood and playing the guitar with up and coming venue-fillers ‘Ill-Fitting Thoughts’.
What is your very first memory of music, do you remember the first thing that jumped out at you?
I’ve got no distinct first memory. However, I can recall listening to the likes of The Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin and numerous blues artists from an early age and loving them all. My Dad would play anything and everything which is essential when you are young.
When did you realise that you wanted to be a musician?
It was probably halfway through secondary school. I had the notion of being a musician when I was younger, but at around 14/15 that’s when I knew I seriously wanted to pursue it.
Do you come from a musical family, do you have people close to you who also perform?
One of my great granddads could play music, and my Mum used to play the piano when she was young. My eldest brother was also very able on the cello, oboe and guitar but stopped at around 16 or so. I think this is part of the reason why I wanted to start playing music. It’s worth mentioning that despite the rest of my close family not being musicians, there are all avid listeners of all sorts of music.
What artists inspired you when you were younger and had a positive impact on your desire to be a musician?
Largely Led Zeppelin. Not just because of Page as a guitarist but because their music made me realise the importance of production values as well as the fact that an artist can touch on so many genres. The likes of the Beatles, The Stones and blues artists such as Muddy Waters were also a huge influence when I was young before I discovered other music.
Did you have music lessons growing up?
I did yes, starting when I was about 9 or 10. Initially at YMI group classes which taught you the basics. After a break of a year or two, I decided to start again in secondary school where a fantastic guy named Ryan Linfoot taught me. During first year I started guitar lessons with at Morningside School of Music. We touched on several areas of guitar playing as well as doing graded exams all the way up to grade 8. The most important thing I learnt there was how to improvise using scales even when I hadn’t been playing for an unusually long time. I think this is particularly important for musicians as it really helps you discover what you like and it also builds your musical ear.
Who are your favourite musicians now and why?
So many. All the classic bands and the blues guys still, but I’ve grown fond of Tame Impala, Kendrick, Anderson. Paak, Man of Moon, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Miles Davis, Debussy, Young Fathers, Bee Gees… too many to name. Why? You just have to listen.
What is your practice process?
Just do it. If you don’t, you won’t get better. Simple as that. Also practice sight reading sheet music, no matter how annoying it can seem. That as well as trying to sing along to anything you hear. My pitch used to be dreadful, and this helped a lot.
Are you enjoying your university degree course in music? What is your favourite and least favourite modules?
I am yes. Very much looking forward to the second year. It’s great overall. You touch on so many areas of music, and you have the option to later specialise in pretty much any area that you want. I particularly enjoyed music technologies using ProTools and Logic X, mainly because I had never done it before. As for the least favourite, I can’t say I had one!
Could you tell us a bit about what you are working on just now?
My band ‘Ill Fitting Thoughts’ recently finished recording an EP with Alan Moffat at Leith Recording Company. Alan did it all for free as part of a program he runs for young acts in Edinburgh. This was great as we got to experiment with VERY different sounds and take our time over it – we could never have afforded it had we been charged! Keep your eye out for word on when it’s getting released, not one to miss if I say so myself. Sadly, Leith Recording Company along with other businesses such as The Leith Depot is due to be demolished in a reckless endeavour by The Drum Property Group to build student accommodation. https://www.facebook.com/saveleithwalk/
Aside from this, I have still been doing gigs with the marvellous Gus Harrower following the release of his latest single ‘Wonder’. Still, more to come there as well as more gigs with the man himself!