Niall McNamee

📷 : Lee Malone

Having released his debut EP Step By Step in May, Niall McNamee will be releasing music videos for all the tracks with Step by Step and When She Goes already uploaded to YouTube and he is set to perform at Nell’s in Hammersmith on 23rd July and play his first festival later this year. As well as releasing his own music, Niall duetted with Imelda May on her recent album 11 Past The Hour on the song Don’t Let Me Stand On My Own. Niall is also an actor and will be seen in the upcoming release of Love Without Walls as Paul Kelly, and he played Patrick O’Reilly in The Foreigner with Jackie Chan. On stage, Niall played Fran O’Toole in The Miami Showband Story and performed at the Soho Theatre as Neil McCormick in Chasing Bono. We recently caught up with Niall about his debut EP Step By Step, duetting with Imelda May and playing Paul Kelly in Love Without Walls.

Can you tell us about your debut EP Step By Step that you released in May?

It’s my debut EP. So the songs are a mix of brand new ones I wrote during lockdown and songs I wrote years ago. It was hard to narrow it down to five, but I’m delighted with what we decided and I made it my aim to do a music video for all five songs which was stressful but I loved it.

What was it like working on the songs and how did you find the experience of releasing your music?

I don’t think I realised how much I would enjoy the process. I have amazing people around me who just wanted to be a part of it and help. And to see people listening to the songs on the regular means everything.

📷 : Lee Malone

For those that haven’t heard your music, how would you describe your sound?

I don’t think I realised how Irish my songs are. I’ve never set out to do that but I think it comes through, there are traditional and rock/pop sounds to it. I have a wide range of varied influences so, depending on how you’re listening, the outcomes are different. But ultimately I’d hope it’s categorised as good old fashioned songwriting.

You released your Step By Step video early in June, can you say about working on it?

It was insane. Finding ways to create something during a lockdown with zero budget. Sope and Lauren have been friends of mine for years and they know my stuff well so it meant so much that they wanted to be involved. Lee Malone, the director, took the ropes from there and made something so cinematic and full of heart. It was bigger than I could have ever expected.

How was it filming the When She Goes music video?

That was funny, so different to Step By Step. Just me, Amy (one of my managers) and the director, Tom Laxton, in a garage in December with a load of boxes. A proper home-made music video. I learnt that day that a good idea is the most important aspect to making a music video beyond anything else.

What are you looking forward to most for your show at Nell’s in Hammersmith on July 23rd?

Seeing everyone! Getting to play new songs and a new experience of playing a gig to people who have been able to listen to the songs.

You duetted with Imelda May on her number one album 11 Past The Hour, how was this?

To be able to write and make something with your partner can be many things. It can be tense, it can be stressful but beyond anything it’s a privilege to have something together like that. I love the song. But let me forget we’re together for a moment and say that to work with someone as brilliant as Imelda is an honour. She’s remarkable.

Had you always wanted to be a singer-songwriter and how did you start?

The short answer is yes. I’ve always felt like I just was one but I had never released anything. I had been gigging for years.

📷 : Lee Malone

You will be playing Paul in Love Without Walls, is there anything you can say about the character and film?

Paul Kelly is a singer-songwriter living in Camden with his wife Sophie. They fall on hard times due to bad luck really. They’re decent people, they’re trying.

In 2017, you played Patrick O’Reilly in The Foreigner, what was it like being part of the cast and being on set of the film?

Unbelievable. I was working on a building site before that so to get the call to say ‘You’re fighting Jackie Chan in the morning’ was something I’ll never forget. I can’t even say it was bucket list because there’s no way I would ever have believed that would happen.

We understand you’ve also performed in theatre, what do you enjoy most about stage work?

There are so many things. Obviously performing is something I love doing but the whole process is fun. I love making new friends for life and enjoying everything around it.

How was it playing lead Fran O’Toole in The Miami Showband Story?

An honour. Such an important story that I’ve known about for my whole life. I do believe that Fran O’Toole was going to be one of the biggest stars the island ever had before he was tragically and unjustly taken from the world.

You performed at the Soho Theatre as Neil McCormick in Chasing Bono, can you tell us about it?

To be given the opportunity to play the lead at the Soho Theatre meant everything to me. It was so huge looking back. I got to know Neil who has become a friend, Sally and Ronnie who were just wonderful to me and happened to be how me and Imelda met. Not to mention the cast who are all close friends now. In many ways it was the making of me.

📷 : Lee Malone

Where does your love of acting come from and is it something you always wanted to do?

Without giving a non answer on purpose, I never thought about it. Much like songwriting and singing it was just something I always did. I never thought about wanting to do it because I was always doing it. I couldn’t ever watch a movie, TV show or play without imagining doing it myself.

How do you like to spend your time away from your career?

Football. Football. Football. Leeds United is the thing that brings me day-to-day joy. And in the past, day-to-day misery. But I think it has been helpful to have something outside of what I do that I care about so much.

Do you have any favourite musicians to listen to and TV/stage shows to watch?

Declan O’Rourke, Damien Dempsey, Paul Brady, The Pogues, Christy Moore, Oasis, The Beatles… I really could do a list all day… Billy Joel, Sinatra, Elton John, Tom Jones.

As for TV, I don’t think anything has influenced me more than Mad Men.

Apart from your show in July, do you have any other upcoming music/career plans you can tell us about?

I can’t wait to see Love Without Walls. We filmed intensely for just over a month so I’m excited and terrified to see what we did! I’ve also booked to play my first festival later in the year!

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