Although he is only 25 years old, Damian McGinty already has an impressive resume. He joined Celtic Thunder when he was 14, won himself a role on ‘Glee’ after impressing the show executives on ‘The Glee Project’ at 18 years old, and has toured the world for more than a decade.
Damian’s first EP of original songs, ‘No More Time’, was released on March 30, 2018, and was followed on by a North American tour, which concluded on May 20 in Vancouver, BC.
In an interview with CelebMix, Damian talks about his EP, songwriting, personal and professional growth, and his plans for the future.
You just released the music video for ‘You Should Know’, how did you come up with the video concept?
I sat down with the director and producer Jolee, and we basically brainstormed for hours. We both wanted to go with more of a short story vibe and not your typical love story video, which I think ultimately we ended up achieving. One thing I made clear to Jolee was that I wanted to showcase my acting in this. It felt like a good opportunity to do that. We wanted it to be dramatic but authentic. Jolee came up with the idea of the swimming pool scene, which was brilliant. I love that shot, I think it’s really cool. Renee (the actress) did such a great job. I felt bad because the water was unbelievably cold, I mean painfully so. She suffered in a swimsuit. But she killed it.
Do you have a favourite song on your EP?
They all have a different place for me. ‘You Should Know’ is the maybe the most honest song on the EP. ‘Slow Dance’ is definitely the fun, young single, but I like ‘Sweetest Goodbye’ too, it reminds me of home and my family.
Up until now, you have mostly sung other people’s songs. Why is now the right time for you to release original music?
I always wanted to write. I just didn’t know how to execute that to a high level because I’ve always been doing other projects, so therefore it left little or no time to learn the craft of songwriting for many years. When I hit 21, I dedicated time to it. Years. Working with writers, producers etc. I figured eventually being a competent singer was not going to cut it. Once you get older, the novelty of being able to sing simply isn’t enough. You need as many cards to play with as possible in order to increase your chances of longevity in this business, and that’s my goal.
What has the songwriting process been like?
Long. I have so many songs on my laptop, it’s ridiculous. At times disheartening, to be totally transparent. One thing I learned quickly is that not everyone is going to like the tunes and that is ok with me now. I always strive to be the best I can be, and approval from certain people in my life is important to me, but once I let the idea of this not being everybody’s cup of tea sink in, it was a weight off my shoulders. I immediately began to create a sound that’s more ‘Damian’ and more of what I want my music to look and sound like. I can now write about things that are important to me, and in a style that is ‘Damian’. If people like or love it, that’s worth it. My songwriting partners are incredibly talented too. Ryan O Shaughnessy and Mark Caprice have written Ireland’s Eurovision entry this year, and they qualified for the final. We co-write a lot. Cian Sweeney, Matt Weir, and Pete Wallace are my producers and also co-writers, and as a team, we all come together really nicely and bring something different to the table.
Let’s talk about your time in Celtic Thunder – what was your favourite thing about performing with the group?
The idea of it being a team. As I’ve gotten older, I get this question more and more. This has been a huge chunk of my life. Almost half at this point. I began when I was 14, I’m now 25. I love the idea of being in a team. Working towards the same goals. To produce great content and music that people love. The people in that group, physically on stage but also behind the scenes, are genuinely some of the best I’ve worked with. We have a blast.
You’re currently doing a solo tour in North America, what’s the biggest difference between touring alone and touring with Celtic Thunder?
There’s definitely a bigger buzz on my solo tour. Not necessarily in a bad way at all, but as an independent artist, this has been organized by my hands. Full on. I hire the people. Pick the cities. My tour manager Pam Stucky is my main sidekick, she’s incredible in her honesty, friendship and organizational skills, which is really priceless in this industry. So with it being so hands-on, and being responsible for every little detail, when it comes together and you play to a big crowd on a Saturday night, that knows the words to music you released 4 weeks ago, there’s no feeling like that in the world. If there is, I’ve yet to experience it.
What does it mean to you to meet your fans in person?
I love meeting my fans. I will never understand this concept of some artists wanting a separation there between themselves and their fans [I don’t like the word fans, I just don’t really know what else to say]. I want to meet people that love the music, bought a ticket to a concert, bought a record. I’m not pompous enough to assume that’s the norm. It’s not. So I love hearing their stories and love answering their questions.
You recently filmed ‘Santa Fake’ with your former ‘Glee’ co-star Heather Morris, what was it like working with her again?
Really, really great. Heather is such a sweetheart. It felt full circle. Compared to ‘Glee’ and shooting the movie, I felt like I’d aged 25 years when really it was four. ‘Glee’ was just such a learning experience for me, in so many different ways. In comparison to some of the cast, I’m such a little bit of that show’s history – I did 25 episodes or something. But watching those guys taught me how to be better. I also learned the discipline it takes. So working with Heather again was more enjoyable. I felt better. All around growth. It was just so great to hang out with her and swap old stories. We had a blast.
Do you see yourself doing more acting in the future?
I think so. I’ve never run away from the fact that it’s not a priority for me. That’s the reality of my career right now. The music thing has taken over and it seems like I’m gaining some momentum. It’s not really possible to split focus on either or. It’s unfair. But in my free time, I’ve been working on acting, learning about it, I’m much better than I have ever been before. Playing the lead in a movie lit a fire under me to do more. For sure. It would have to be the right thing and the right timing.
Speaking of ‘Glee’, how have you changed as an artist since being on the show and competing on ‘The Glee Project’?
Absolutely. I’m only 25 but it’s crazy to me how much I thought I knew when I was 18. I wasn’t a normal 18-year-old. I’d been touring North America with Celtic Thunder for four years., so I think I can be forgiven for thinking I knew more than I did. Really, all I knew was Celtic Thunder, which is such an incredible gift to my life, but ultimately there is so much more to do and achieve that require different qualities, know-how, and discipline. I’m still learning all about that, but I’ve grown an incredible amount from 18 until now.
You’ve already been in show business for 11 years! What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Singing at the White House is up there. Radio City is up there. Winning ‘The Glee Project’. Elvis Duran premiering my first original single a few weeks back in New York. It’s a tough question. There are a few highlights and ultimately I think being human you look to the more recent achievements as being more significant. I don’t reflect, really. Good or for bad. That might be a flaw or good thing. I am always looking ahead.
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 11 years?
Grow as an artist, get better. Experience new things. The ultimate goal for me is to be in a place to release an album every 18-24 months that progressively get better. If I can play to 1500-2000 [people] as an independent artist that’s a dream of mine now. It seems realistic. But I am practising more and more to enjoy the journey. From my own experience, I can tell you, when you achieve ‘Goals’, there seems to be very little peace in that. It’s always about what’s next. Reaching targets never really seem to be as satisfying as we hope. So I’m working on just being really grateful for what I have and get to experience. I love this and as long as people keep being interested, I’ll keep doing it.