Friday, March 13, 2015

Nancy Lee Badger Interviews Kilted Singer/Songwriter Marc Gunn

Nancy- I have a special treat for y’all!. I met Marc Gunn at the Stone Mountain Highland Games near Atlanta where the Gunn Clan of North America was hosting its annual gathering. I am also a member of the Gunn clan through my husband, whose grandmother was a Robinson (a sept of the Scottish Gunn clan). Marc’s latest CD, St. Patrick's Day Songs for Kids, was released on March 1st.

Nancy- Please tell my readers a little bit about your work. 

Marc- I play the autoharp and I call my musical style Celtic Geek. That's because I do a lot of traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs, but I also fuse those with science fiction and fantasy, drinking songs and even cats. I have a fun sense of humor and I try to engage my listeners in a way that is not done with popular music.

I'm one of the most-prolific artists you'll ever meet, having released twenty full-length solo CDs in the past eight years. But my record label, which features me on all of the recordings, has over 50 albums in the catalog. I love to perform live, but I also love to record and just create!

Creating is a passion of mine. It's why in addition to recording all of these albums, I also host the award-winning Irish & Celtic Music Podcast as well as numerous other podcasts and I have a YouTube channel where I also create fun content to share, all for free.

My latest album St. Patrick's Day Songs for Kids was released on March 1st. I have a four-year old daughter, so I wanted to put together an album of songs that she would enjoy. It features all new recordings of songs I've done over the years that are also popular with all my fans. They're songs that are fun to sing. Feel good songs that will make you smile whether they be traditional songs like “I'll Tell My Ma” or “The Mermaid Song” or original songs like “Happily Ever After” (based on the children's book The Paperbag Princess), “Irish Lilting”, “Lord of the Pounce” (from my Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers series) or “The Leprechaun”. It's just a fun album!

Nancy- When did you start your musical career? 

Marc- I've played music all my life. But it was in college when I first decided to become a full-time musician and songwriter like Elvis Presley... Of course, it wasn't until much later that I realized Elvis didn't write songs. But he was still a BIG inspiration. In 1999, I was invited to perform at a Renaissance Festival outside Austin, Texas. That event changed my life. I then changed from songwriter to performer as I learned the ropes of how to put on a good stage show. That was also when I really began to learn Irish and Scottish songs. And of course, learning Celtic songs, I also learned how to write music when I got back into it seriously a few years ago.

Nancy- Did you write your own songs or musical scores?

Marc- Of course, I started off singing traditional Celtic songs, but my goal was to be a songwriter. Early on, I wrote mostly parodies of traditional songs. Over the last five years, I've gotten more into writing original songs or setting lyrics by my friend Rie Sheridan Rose
to music. My last album Sci Fi Drinking Songs had a whole lot of original song lyrics by me. I'm very proud of that album because it's the complete culmination of my songwriting combined with my love of Celtic music, combined with my love of science fiction.

Nancy- Do you have any rejection stories to share?

Marc- A lot of career was defined by rejection. After I finished recording my first bands' album, Marked By Great Size, I was extremely passionate about shamelessly promoting my music. I sent the album to a bunch of magazines for review, including Dirty Linen, the biggest folk magazine out there. I hounded them for months for a review. When the review finally came, it was a paragraph long and not very flattering. They did not understand what we were doing at all. After that, I stopped submitting music to the press for the most part. I decided to go it alone. It was one of the reasons I now have a HUGE network of indie Celtic music websites online.

I also remember talking to an Irish musician in Austin. He was purist. Since our music was not traditional in any sense (I play an autoharp, afterall), he sat me down to tell me exactly what “Celtic music” was.... well, at least to him. That too was extremely pivotal to my career. Not only did I get a great satirical song out of it called “The Leprechaun”, but I also became determined to never judge other “Celtic” musicians because they didn't fit in his narrow definition of Celtic music.

Nancy- What is your professional routine like?

Marc- Music marketing is a passion of mine. I built my entire career around it. In fact, it was because of my skill that I was able to quit my day job in 2005 and never look back. Sure, it's a challenge, even more so, now that I have a wife, a four-year old and a baby on the way, but I love every minute of it.

Because of financial restraints, I basically get two full days a week to work, Monday and Tuesday. Those are the days I record my two main podcasts—Irish & Celtic Music Podcast and The Celtfather. I usually take my daughter to daycare around 7:30am. From there, I start recording The Celtfather podcast and compile shownotes which I publish in my blog. That's my main blog content for my website.

Around 10 am, I start work on the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast. It takes a few hours to compile songs, write shownotes, record the show, post in the blog, and then write the weekly newsletter, Celtic Music Magazine. That is usually my Mondays. Tuesdays are left for finishing up everything else that needs doing, like responding to email, creating videos, promoting to social media, and what not.

If I'm lucky, I also get a couple evenings a week to do work. But confess, it's not a huge priority because I consider my family Extremely important. I don't get enough time with my wife as it is since I also frequently have out of town gigs, usually 2-3 weekends a month. So I like to be with her and my daughter as much as possible.

I confess, I'm a bit sloppy with my promotional efforts though. Routine has never been my friend. So I've spent most of my career bouncing back and forth between projects. When I could work 16 hour days as a single man, I got a LOT done. Over the past few years, I've learned out important routine is. It's why I have those podcasting days.
The podcasts are my main means of promotion though. I have fortunately found a few helpers with podcast promotion over the years, whenever I can find microtasks I can easily let go and delegate. It's tough for me.

Nancy- Having achieved your goal to be a singer/songwriter/performer, what is the most rewarding thing?   

Marc- The things I love most about my career is creating. I love it every time I get a new album in my hands. I unwrap it and stroke the cover, brilliantly designed by one of my artist friends. It's an amazing feeling. However, the most-rewarding thing for me is to hear feedback from fans who are listening and enjoying the music that I was able to share. They do it happily. They tell their friends. They become a part of the entire creation process.

Right now, I'm already working on my next Kickstarter for an album called Dragons vs. Pirates. It's an anti-Steampunk album with lyrics by Rie Sheridan Rose. It's doing extremely well already having reached my initial goal in five days. But what's been most exciting is seeing people get involved in the story. This album is unlike previous ones in that I'm creating a fun story about dragons against pirates and how I'm caught in the middle. I'm having a blast, and judging by fan interaction, they are too.
I love stories so I'm thrilled to see this album take off.

Nancy- What’s next for you?

Marc- I have three albums currently planned for the future, Dragons vs. Pirates, an additional album of adventure and stories that is still unnamed, and Sea Shanties for Cat Lovers.  I'm also planning to release the Dragons vs. Pirates as an eBook and audiobook if I can figure out that world. And I have a bunch of music marketing articles that I hope to publish as well. From there, who knows. We'll see where my imagination takes me!

More About Marc Gunn
Cats. Irish drinking songs. Science fiction. Nowhere else but from the bright imagination of Marc Gunn would those three elements be so neatly integrated. Yet Gunn, sometimes called “the hardest working man in Celtic music” around his hometown in Austin, is an accomplished musician, podcaster, and entrepreneur . In 2014, his recording of “Rising of the Moon” won Best Roots Traditional in Celtic Radio Music Awards. He continues to turn heads with his instrument of choice, the autoharp.

Gunn’s activities are not restricted to musical performance alone. In 2005, he transformed his popular resource, the Celtic Music Magazine into a podcast. Irish & Celtic Music Podcast helped kick off the podcast revolution by “changing your world with Celtic music”. 

Gunn combines his love of travel with his love a music. He hosts Celtic Invasion Vacations which are different from standard vacation tours. Gunn believes that it is the people around you who ultimately make a vacation great. He finds one location abroad and gathers like-minded vacationers to experience his travel motto, “Good food, good drink, good company”.

In a town famous for almost every musical genre except Celtic music, Marc Gunn has raised the bar and held it high. Using the musical past and a vivid imagination bolstered with ambition and drive, he blazes trails from terra firma to cyberspace, encouraging others to follow.

You can find more information 
about Marc Gunn here:
WEBSITE    BLOG    Twitter  

Here's some videos:

Also on the CD:

Some of the songs from this live show made it on the CD

From Sci Fi Drinking Songs

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