Being one of 15 children, I quickly learned how to communicate well in large groups.
But I was more naturally drawn to spending time alone in a quiet corner daydreaming.
I think the part of me that wants to be on stage comes from being part of that big family and the part of me that wants to write comes from having developed a rich internal life from all the time spent alone.
I grew up in Mayobridge in Co Down, just outside Newry, in a very musically talented family, but I’m the only one of my siblings who went professional.
My earliest memory is my father playing the mouth organ on our way to visit an aunt who was a nun in Dublin. We visited her once a year. He’d pile a load of us kids into the car – no seat belts of course — and he’d keep us quiet by playing the mouth organ. (I know…) I studied law in Queens University in Belfast and practised for a year or so but I gave up what might have looked like a safe and pensionable job to go off traveling when I was 25.
I reckoned as long as I had the guitar with me, I wouldn’t starve. I busked my way around Europe and began writing my own songs.
I don’t think I ever got one really ‘big break’. I don’t look on it that way. I see a career as more of a lifelong journey with its ups and downs. You have your moments in the light and you have your moments when the world turns its back on you.
I spent 15 years being a solo artist, but now I perform with Annie Kinsella who is also my wife.
In my experience, being on stage is better when its shared.
The first time I saw Annie, she was playing in a group called The Fallen Angels. I fancied her immediately and we were introduced by a mutual friend — and, coincidentally, when I was recording my album ‘New Day’ in Windmill Lane her name come up as a suggested backing singer.
I’ve never been signed. I’ve always stayed independent, releasing the albums ourselves.
That enables us to keep the art and the songwriting at the centre of what we do.
My biggest challenge was when Annie was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago. We were living in Nashville but decided to cancel a year’s worth of shows and come home.
Thankfully she’s fully recovered, but the experience redefined us. It helped us re-prioritise.
I used to sit down to write each day, but I don’t do that any more. It doesn’t help the way I work. I prefer to let the songs happen organically, with a longer gestation period. A good lyric will often suggest a melody but nine times out of ten the two come together.
We moved out of Dublin and now live a pretty healthy life in Sligo. We are vegetarians and we have to walk each day because we’ve a rescue collie called Bluebell who keeps us fit.
We are conscious of keeping a balance in our lives although we do tour a lot. We did 200 shows last year.
I’m no longer part of an organised religion. I was brought up Catholic in Northern Ireland with all the good and the bad that went with it. I’ve worked that through and have my own set of core beliefs, the most important of which is the importance of kindness.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do believe that how we live matters.
Talent or ambition? I think nothing can trump talent in art. It’s like inspiration, but it thrives on structure and it needs encouragement.
My biggest fault is becoming distracted which can make me selfish and moody, without realising it.
There’s nobody I’d like to be reborn as, not even for a day.
The best advice I ever received was from Christy Moore. I was coming off stage and he was going on and I muttered to him ‘it’s a tough crowd tonight.’ He replied that there’s no such thing — meaning that it was up to me to make the performance work.
So far life has taught me that it’s our attitude that matters — we mightn’t be able to control events, but we can try and control our attitude to what happens.
Kieran Goss and Annie Kinsella are on a nationwide tour until March 22 with their new album ‘Oh, The Starlings’. See [url=https://www.kierangoss.com]www.kierangoss.com for full tour details.