By Kamran Rehmat
Philip Noone is an Irish musician based in Doha. He travels throughout the year performing and more recently, supported pop and rock band Boyce Avenue and singer, rapper and record producer Bazzi with Music Vending Machine at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
Noone also headlined the Qatar International Food Festival and made his presence felt at the glitzy Doha Fashion Week.
In an engaging conversation with Community, Noone speaks about his first love — music — including Galway Bay, his latest release out of Doha, fusion with Arab elements and, last but not least, his desire to bring more international stars to Qatar, where some of the recording studios, he notes, are the “finest I have ever seen”.
Excerpts from the interview:
Please tell us about your journey so far…
I started singing and playing guitar from the age of 8. I come from a very musical family — both my mother and grandmother are also singers. When I finished high school, I studied sound engineering and music technology in Ireland before deciding to become a performer.
What does music mean to you? Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Music is my life. My biggest inspiration has been my mother. When a lot of people tell their parents they want to play music for a living, they don’t get a good response as only very few make it in this industry but she stood by me from day one. Musically, my inspirations come from everywhere — from Irish music, particularly, The Pogues (an Irish Celtic punk band fronted by Shane MacGowan and founded in Kings Cross, London in 1982) to Arab and Asian artistes I am hearing more of since coming to Qatar.
Tell us about the single most defining episode or turning point in your life…
In 2004, I got to the final of a television talent competition in Ireland and performed live in front of a million viewers. This was when I knew I wanted pursue a career in music.
What has been your experience playing music — including collaboration — in Qatar? What are the elements of fusion in your music?
I was discovered by Candela Entertainment, my management, which is based in Doha, while singing in Cyprus. After signing with them, I was brought to Doha to record and perform. The elements of fusion in my music range from the traditional Irish to recently, adding Oud to a future recording. This will be the first time an Irish song will feature Oud. In Doha, I had the opportunity to headline Qatar International Food Festival with Music Vending Machine, and singing at the Doha Fashion Week where we were joined by international supermodel Izabel Goulart and Boyce Avenue on the backyard stage in Qatar National Convention Center.
Tell us about the waves you created with your single Galway Shawl, which was recorded in Doha…
In 2018, I recorded The Galway Shawl at Music and Arts Atelier in Doha. When it was released, it had 5 million views and plays across all online stores and social media, and was one of the highest selling Irish singles of 2018.
There is buzz about your latest recording in Doha as well. Can you please elaborate on it and, for the benefit of our readers, how can they access it?
My latest video recording Galway Bay, which was filmed at The Backyard at the Sheraton Grand in Doha, received more than 100,000 plays on various media sites when it was released last week and looks set to chart very high when it goes live on iTunes and Spotify when it is released this week. It is a relaxing folk song. I think all music buffs would enjoy.
How is Doha different from other European capitals where you have played? Do you think you could play a role in bringing notable musicians to Doha?
I find Doha amazing compared to other world capitals. I have played here as it is culturally so diverse. It has a nice, relaxed atmosphere along the Cornice and it is where I have written most of my new album. Katara Studios and Music and Arts Atelier are two of the finest recording studios I have ever seen. I have been in talks with many musical artists about investing in recording here in Doha as opposed to other places as I feel the experience here is a lot more beneficial musically and professionally. I think with the FIFA World Cup 2022 coming up, a lot of people in the music industry will see what we have here.
You’ve travelled a fair distance performing. In which country did you find the most receptive audience?
Since 2016 I have done many headline shows across the world for many different audiences. Some of the most energetic shows I have done have been in a small fishing village in Holland called Volendam. The people there are massive traditional Irish music fans and the atmosphere is always electric. The Backyard in Doha is another amazing live gig as it is outdoor and along the water. It is always fantastic to perform there. I am performing there again this coming New Year’s Eve.
You’ve also done a bit of philanthropy. What cause or causes do you hold most dear and why?
I do as much as I possibly can to help wherever I can. Foundations for blood and heart disease are very important to me as my younger brother developed a rare blood disease at the age of 24. My two younger brothers are my life so this encouraged me to get involved. I will be putting on a concert in Ireland in February of 2020 with all proceeds going to various cancer and heart related charities.
Would you relate an interesting anecdote from your life — career wise or otherwise — something that still makes you smile, sad, regret or simply feel good about?
In the past three years, I’ve been very fortunate to have travelled to 12 countries performing. Many interesting things have happened along but one of the more comical ones was at a lion safari in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I got too close to two lion cubs and they wanted to play — playing for them meant wrestling me to the ground and scratching me up a little bit, but I was lucky to survive. I posted the video on my Instagram to remind me to be more careful around lions!
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