By Megan-Josephine Reynolds
Sally Foran is a DJ, podcaster and the self-professed Lady Mayoress of Dublin. Encouraging people to move from seats to dance floors since 2001, Sally is returning to play Hibernacle: Meet Me At The Castle this Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th of September at Claregalway Castle. We sat down with the Dublin DJ to discuss how she was feeling ahead of the gig, her favourite memories of Galway and what audiences can expect from her upcoming show.
What first drew you to the music industry and DJing in particular?
I always had a huge grá for music from early childhood. I actually went to theatre school after my Leaving Cert but soon found myself more drawn to DJing. I had a pal, Tom Hickey, who ran a soul club and insisted I DJ there. I was too nervous and kept backing out, finally he posted my name on a poster and called me DJ Sally Cinnamon, and there was no backing out. The rest, as the fella says, is history. More gig offers rolled in and so I just stuck to the name. Here I am, almost 20 years later.
How are you feeling now that the live music industry is starting to reopen?
I’m still a bit apprehensive about getting very excited and feeling like we are back in business fully. I have done two festivals in the past month and I can’t tell you how elated I was to be amongst my peers and friends again on a stage playing music through giant speakers. I had really lost faith, felt so bored and jaded waiting for things to reopen up and get back to doing what we do. An opportunity arises and you stand back on stage and do it one more time and it all comes rushing back to you. I was close to tears with delight, you realise why you do it in the first place and how there’s no feeling quite like it.
What are you most excited about achieving or doing now that things are getting back to “normal”?
Just literally being back in the same spaces, seeing old friends and regulars and feeling like the past 18 months wait was worth it. When you DJ two or three nights a week around a city for years you realise just how much a contribution to the energy of the city you all make. The putners, bar tenders, djs and bouncers. You become a community together and that was very hard during lockdown, missing that connection with people you are used to seeing. I also live in Temple Bar in Dublin so being around those closed dark venues every night just added to the grim reality of the times we were living in.
Have you got any special memories from gigs in the West of Ireland, or Galway in particular?
Every gig I do in the West of Ireland has a magical aspect. I love playing in Galway and Kerry especially. There is nothing quite like the two weeks in July for GIAF, which is always my favourite time of year. I loved to spend at least a week there during the Arts Festival and see lots of shows with friends, swim in Salthill, food in Árd Bia, a pint in Neachtains then close the nights in the Rowing Club, DJing with the big top lit up and glistening on the river! It really is a special place for me. There is nowhere quite like Galway in the summer and you’d be hard pressed finding someone who disagrees with that statement!
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Is there any local talent here in Galway that you’re a fan of or believe deserves more attention?
Daithí always puts on a deadly show. It’s been ages since I saw him and danced in mucky fields to his music so I am really looking forward to seeing him at Hibernacle: Meet Me At The Castle this weekend. DJs Mike Small, Padraic Disconaut and Byron Yeates have all been firm favourites of mine to dance to when I am in Galway. The scene has always been so exciting and inviting – you never have a bad night in a Galway club! It’s why I love coming to Galway so much. Guaranteed craic!!
DJing used to be quite a male-oriented industry; do you think this has gotten better or do we still have a way to go to make it more diverse?
Well it was one of the reasons I was so reluctant to try to establish myself in the scene. There were only two other females doing it back then. I was so nervous and apprehensive, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off and it felt like so much more of a statement to be making, announcing yourself as a DJ, it felt like you had to prove yourself more. There are lots more girls doing it now thankfully but I do think, like all mostly male spaces, there is ALWAYS room for more female energy and representation. For me as a huge music fan at that age it was like saying music was just for boys and that drove me mad. It was one of the main reasons I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and into a spotlight to try and change this attitude and make sure there was representation for young Irish gals who were itching to take to the decks.
Do you prefer hosting radio shows and podcasts or performing to live audiences?
I love the magic intimacy of podcasting with someone, especially if your co-host is good craic, which I was always fortunate enough to have. DJing is a different beast, It’s quite a solo buzz in that sense but your way of communicating with the audience is with the music. It’s a different process but all the more magical if you can get the reaction you want and see a crowd dancing and smiling. That is why we do it. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling.</p
Now that the live music industry is reopening, is there anything you think the government or local councils can do to support the artists?
The pandemic has highlighted the gross lack of support in place for artists involved in the communities within the entertainment industry. DJs, for instance, were practically invisible and we were left feeling disposed of. So many of us contribute so much to the culture, economy, identity of the city and yet there was no governmental support for us at all. We just didn’t exist. It’s only now the government is opening up to conversations with the likes of the lads from Give Us The Night, who I am immensely proud of and grateful for their tireless work trying to keep these conversations going to change up the future of the Irish club scene. These conversations are only starting to take place as we reopen. We are seeing what the Give Us the Night’s sustained campaign can change for those communities. change that can lead to more funding for DJs, electronic music and club oriented venues and they can be included in existing career funding and project grants.
What can audiences expect from ‘Hibernacle: Meet Me at the Castle’?
Well the line up is just incredible. These are the most exciting Irish acts together in one place to collaborate and perform together. I don’t know what could be more gorgeous. I recently witnessed the majesty of the collaborations between Lisa Hannigan & Saint Sister when they performed in Connolly’s of Leap. It is spine tingling, listening to those gals sing together. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. There is nothing more exciting for an artist coming out of lockdown and solitude to be presented with a gorgeous castle and a line up of incredible musicians to collaborate with for a weekend. It’s the dream really isn’t it? The Hibernacle team has achieved that dream for these artists and the audience members will get to soak up all that magical creative energy. I think it is gonna be off the charts special.
Any other upcoming gigs or work you would like to share with the GALWAYnow audience?
I am excited to see what the future holds for me when these restrictions are lifted, hopefully I can get back to playing my usual residency slots and hopefully I’ll be up to Galway to play in some of my favourite clubs with my favourite Djs. Fingers crossed at least. We all need to dance again. It’s been far too long!
DJ Sally Cinnamon plays Hibernacle: Meet Me At The Castle this Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th September at Claregalway Castle. Artists on the line-up include Lisa Hannigan, Saint Sister, Andy Irvine, Nealo, Tolü Makay, Wallis Bird, Daithí and Jape. Tickets are €55 per day from Hibernacle.ie