This much I know: Philip King, musician

The one place where I am truly myself is on stage. What I love most about the feeling I get when I am playing music, is the freedom that it gives me.

When you walk on stage, everything else goes away. It is just you and the music. You can do what you like and you are in fact very free.

I feel energised on a stage. When you are performing, it collapses time. And yet you have to be entirely present and in the moment. I appreciate being able to do that.

Music entered my ears at an early age. I grew up in a musical household and one of my first memories is of my father coming home one afternoon to our bungalow in Cork with a parcel under his arm. It was an old radio. 

I remember the pilot light coming on and the strange names on the dials. It gave me a window to a new world full of music of every different sort.

Now, doing my radio programme out of West Kerry, it is as if I have come full circle since the day my father brought home that first magic box.

I was probably quite a spoilt child, it’s hard to say now. Being the youngest, I spent quite a lot of time with mother.

When I left school, I went to University College Cork from 1969-1972. 

That is where the seeds for my love of language and of the West and of music, were really sown.

It would be more accurate to say that I was naive and innocent, rather than ambitious.

My biggest challenge has been whenever I have lost belief. 

Rejection and failure are an intrinsic part of the life of a creative person. I think the creative community understand that well, yet failure is stigmatised.

Belonging is much nicer than fitting in.

I have been lucky. There have been lots of bumps along the way, I’ve fallen on my face, but I know I have had, and continue to have, an interesting, rewarding and privileged life. 

To have been in rooms with Martin Hayes and Rory Gallagher and Elvis Costello and Amy Winehouse and Christy Moore and Planxty — and to still be playing, next time in Killarney in July, I appreciate that.

If I could be someone else for a day, I’d be my grandfather, so that I could see what life was like back then and where I came from. 

Blood and DNA are very important to me, I have always been interested in history.

They say if you want to find out what it felt like ask a singer, if you want the facts, go to history.

My idea of misery is to work with Donald Trump.

If I could change one thing in our society - one hundred years on from 1916, in a country that is growing up as a nation - I wish we could find a way for government departments to talk to each other and to work in a more integrated way. 

And, a country that is sure of itself is a country that would invest very heavily in arts and culture. The investment will be repaid in every way.

It seems to me that the best things happen when you are dozing and dreaming, and you need to leave space for that. You need to allow space for things to percolate. 

Modern life is so connected that it is probably an impediment to making things happen at a creative level.

The best advice I ever received, and that I can pass on, is to follow your heart.

I absolutely believe in fate. Here I am forty years later looking at the most beautiful view - it is eight miles from my front door to Dingle - and doing what I love.

I walk the mountains with a song in my head. The music is at the heart of the matter. It is the herald of the future. 

I have seen its power in action. I have seen how it helps us in times of difficulty and succour, when we are bereaved and when we are full of uplift.

  • Philip King appears at Killarney Folkfest with his band Scullion on Sunday July 10th at the INEC to join the bill with others including Christy Moore, The Waterboys, Damien Dempsey, Little Green Cars, We Banjo 3, Pauline Scanlon, Iarla O Lionáird and many more. 

    See or phone 064 6671555.


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