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Talking Music: Nova’s Fionn Marum on Christy Dignan, new single and Electric Picnic dreams

Fionn Marum of Nova

Brought to you in association with Laois Library Service

After a brief hiatus, our Talking Music segment returns today.

Portlaoise native Fionn Marum is the focus of this edition as he is the lead singer of up and coming band Nova.

Fionn organised the People Power concert in the Dunamaise last March which was a huge success.

Kolbe Special School, the Cuisle Centre, and Nakhon Si Thammarat Home For Boys in Thailand all benefited from the concert which raised almost €1,000.

After a short hiatus, Nova hope to return for a couple of gigs after the pandemic, and they have a new single coming out today.

Fionn turned 21 on June 13 and he has already plenty of experience in the music industry.

Take it away Fionn:

How did you get involved in music?

I first got involved in music properly about three years ago. I used to do a lot of running competitively until early 2017 when I managed to get a stress fracture in my right foot.

I kind of took a month off, focused on school and that, and then when I went back running the same thing happened to the other foot. I began to lose my mind a bit not being able to go running, and as luck would have it I had an acoustic guitar at home and just picked it up to learn songs on just for something to do really.

Then there was a talent show in the school and a friend of mine asked me to play while he sang. That was the first time I played what you could call a gig, and it was great. It was the biggest buzz imaginable.

I knew then that that was something I wanted to pursue further. The person I would credit the most in terms of getting me into music would be a mate of mine from school, Adam Doran.

He gave me a load of albums to listen to and gave me a musical education really. So, if he hadn’t done that, and introduced me to Matt (lead guitarist in Nova), I don’t think I’d be where I am today.

Nova at Kavanagh’s (September 2019)

What are your fondest musical memories?

I’ve a couple of different great musical memories to be honest. Leaving school early one day to go and see Noel Gallagher in Dublin, that was just a good time. All the gigs I’ve done, particularly with the band, we had a lot of good times before and after gigs.

The rehearsals, hearing the songs coming together before recording them, just everything really, I’d say the last two years are full of very fond musical memories for me.

Nova at People Power in the Dunamaise Arts Centre (March 2019)

What is your favourite thing about being a musician-recording or playing live?

That’s a hard one. I’d have to say both for different reasons. The thing about recording is you’re taking something that you’ve created, in my case usually just with an acoustic guitar, and seeing it come to life as all the other instruments are added to it.

It’s an amazing thing when it’s finished to hear your own stuff played back to you, it really is. Playing live is brilliant too though, gauging the crowds’ reaction to the songs and how they react to the band as a whole. I also love the interaction with the crowd, singing along and the like, it’s a powerful thing.

Nova in rehearsal (February 2019)

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I would say my biggest achievement to date was definitely making the EP last year. Ever since I started writing music, I had a goal of recording an EP or an album, so to end up doing that was huge for me personally.

Getting the songs playlisted in the last couple of weeks and seeing the streams go up tenfold in countries all over the world is so gratifying.

It blows my mind to think that people in the likes of Brazil are listening to songs written by a band from Laois, thousands of miles away. It’s amazing, and it makes me very proud I have to say.

Joe Jewell, Fionn Marum and Christy Dignam (January 2020)

How do you perform in front of large crowds?

I mean, it’s a bit easier for me in the sense that I don’t have to move around a lot, whereas people like Matty Healy (1975) and Tom Ogden (Blossoms) do, but they just have a different act than I do I suppose.

Due to the fact that I also play guitar when performing kind of restricts you a little bit, but I love it, I wouldn’t be able to do it the other way I don’t think, so fair play to all the singers like Freddie Mercury and the like, it’s far harder than they make it look.

In terms of going on stage to perform, I don’t really know, there’s nothing specific that I do, I don’t really get nervous or anything, I just walk on, sing and play guitar for however long the show is, try to talk and have a bit of banter with the crowd, have a bit of fun and come off.

I’m lucky in the sense it feels natural, it’s something I love to do. Performing doesn’t freak me out thankfully, I just really enjoy it. The ability to play music I think is one of most precious skills you can have.

Fionn Marum and Matthew Carroll (December 2018)

Has there been any particular interesting or funny events that have happened to you in your career?

Absolutely, but I don’t know if it’d be suitable to put in writing! Ah no, I’m a good lad, just the usual stuff really, making the odd mistake on stage and laughing about it among ourselves pretending no-one else noticed when let’s face it, everyone clearly knew.

Another funny thing happened at the People Power charity concert I organised last year. For some reason I hadn’t set my microphone up properly, and it kept slipping down as I was trying to sing. I was doing an acoustic version of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and I had to stop and tighten it back up. Then it fell again, I’ve never been as embarrassed on stage and probably never will be again.

Joshua Brennan and Matthew Carroll (January 2019)

What is your most memorable performance?

There’s two that come to mind. The first would’ve been doing support for Christy Dignam and Joe Jewell in the Dunamaise in January just gone, that was brilliant. A great night that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. The second would be playing the Spring Fling Festival in Jeremiah Grant’s with the band in April 2019.

We were playing in the front bar, and the room was full, everyone was up for it, people were jumping around and singing along, it was all a bit mad. I don’t think we’ve ever felt as good coming off stage as we did that night, it was incredible. It’s the one gig I’d love to go back and do again.

Nova at Spring Fling Festival in Jeremiah Grant’s (April 2019)

Who has had the most influence on your career?

There’s been a few actually. As I mentioned, without Adam I probably never would have been as big into music as I am now, I certainly would never have been in a band or writing songs. I first got the idea of forming a band when I saw Strength In Numbers play at the Old Fort Festival in 2017.

I just thought “Wow, wouldn’t that be great?”, and set about trying to do it myself, so I’d definitely cite them as an influence too, which I hope they don’t mind me saying!

In terms of myself, my song writing and my guitar playing I would definitely say Noel Gallagher is a big influence. It was when I first heard Oasis, and saw the chord sequences and the lyrics that make up the songs that I thought “I can do that”. So he was a pretty big influence on me too.

Nova at Old Fort Festival (June 2019) Cred: Peter Haslam Photography

If you could sing with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be?

I’ve already done it in a way, in the sense of having played with Christy Dignam. That was amazing, and I said it on stage that night but for me, being relatively unknown outside of Laois, to be treated with respect he did, to be treated as an equal, was amazing, and really stuck with me.

He’s a great guy, and an idol of mine in many ways, so I’d have picked him.

If you could play any venue or event what would it be?

I would love, as a Liverpool fan, to someday do a gig at Anfield, but that’s a long way off. At the moment I would love to eventually play at Electric Picnic. Given the fact that we formed in Stradbally and that’s the place we used to rehearse and wrote all the songs and all that, it would be a hometown gig in a way.

That’d be brilliant, but again, even that’s a long way off. At the moment though, given everything that’s going on I’d just like to get back playing anywhere at all!

Anything you would like to add?

I’d like end this first of all by thanking the good people at LaoisToday for the allowing me do this interview, and then by thanking everyone who has streamed, bought and downloaded Nova’s music in the last year, everyone who came to see us play.

We hope to see you soon.

Nova’s debut EP ‘Electric Waves’ is available to stream on all platforms now. Their next single ‘You Got It’ is due for release in July 2020.

SEE ALSO – Talking Music: Brian O’Mahoney on touring Germany, supporting Shane McGowan playing

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.