BASSISTS
TANYA O'CAILAGHAM
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t h e
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E m e r a l d
I s l e
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t h e
a l l - A m e r i c a n
g l a m o u r
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L o s A n g e l e s ,
T a n y a
O ' C a l l a g h a n ' s
e c l e c t i c
v e r s a t i l i t y
i s
t a k i n g
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- Interview: Joe Daly. Photography by Ariel Bradley
s y o u r e a d t h is s e n te n c e , th e r e ’s a n
e x c e lle n t c h a n c e - in fa c t, a
p r o b a b ilit y - t h a t i t ’s r a in in g in
M u llin g a r . W i t h a s o u p y h u m id it y
p e r e n n ia lly h o v e r in g a r o u n d 9 0 p e r
c e n t a n d a s to r ie d r e p u t a tio n f o r its
c a ttle , t h e p a s to r a l t o w n in t h e c e n tr e
o f Ir e la n d ’s C o u n t y W e s tm e a th fe e ls lig h t y e a r s a w a y f r o m
t h e g litz y , s u n - s p la s h e d b o u le v a r d s o f S o u th e r n C a lifo r n ia .
A n d y e t t in y , w a te r lo g g e d M u llin g a r s e r v e d a s t h e la u n c h
p a d f o r o n e o f L A ’s h o tte s t s e s s io n p la y e r s t o d a y - t h e fie r y ,
d r e a d lo c k e d t o u r d e fo r c e k n o w n a s T a n y a O 'C a lla g h a n .
A lt h o u g h t h e I r is h b a s s is t h a s t o u r e d t h e w o r ld , p la y e d
o n te le v is io n a n d p o w e r e d c o u n tle s s s tu d io a n d liv e s e s s io n s
w i t h h e r p r o p u ls iv e v e r s a tilit y , T a n y a w a s n o t g r o o m e d f o r
m u s ic " N o b o d y i n m y f a m ily p la y s m u s ic ,” s h e te lls B G M ,
“e x c e p t f o r a c o u p le o f c o u s in s I a b s o r b e d i t s u b c o n s c io u s ly
f r o m m y d a d , w h o h a d a d e e p lo v e f o r m u s ic , a lo n g w i t h a n
in c r e d ib le v i n y l c o lle c tio n . H e ’d b e e n p la y in g th o s e r e c o r d s
s in c e t h e d a y I w a s b o m .” W h i l e r ib - s t ic k in g m e a t- a n d -
p o ta to e s fa r e s u c h a s L e d Z e p p e lin a n d P in k F lo y d e n jo y e d
h e a v y r o t a t io n in t h e O ’C a lla g h a n h o m e , s o d id W i l l ie
N e ls o n , F le e tw o o d M a c a n d e x o tic f u n k p o w e r h o u s e s
lik e C h ic . A s is o f t e n t h e c a s e , o n e m a n 's r e c o r d c o lle c tio n
b e c o m e s h is c h ild 's f o r m a t iv e in flu e n c e s .
T a n y a le f t s c h o o l w h e n s h e w a s 1 7 a n d e n r o lle d i n a lo c a l
m u s ic c o u rs e , a lt h o u g h p la y in g b a s s w a s n o t o n h e r ra d a r.
“I w e n t in w a n t in g t o b e a d r u m m e r .” s h e s a y s w i t h a la u g h .
“I h a d ta k e n f iv e d r u m le s s o n s f r o m a f r ie n d o f m in e , a n d I
w e n t in t o t h is m u s ic c o u r s e a n d t h e y o n ly h a d a n e le c tr ic
d r u m k it . T h e r e w a s n o a c o u s tic d r u m k it , a n d I ju s t h a te d i t
I t r ie d t o p la y i t f o r a w h ile , a n d t h e n I s a w a lo c a l b a s s p la y e r
p la y P r im u s a n d I s a id . ‘R ig h t, I w a n t t o d o th a t ! ’ I ’d n e v e r
r e a lly s e e n a b a s s d o s o m e th in g s o m e lo d ic o r d iv e r s e b e fo re ,
I’d ju s t s e e n t h e lo c a l r o c k e r s p la y in g t h e r o o t n o te s . A f t e r
s e e in g w h a t t h e b a s s c o u ld r e a lly d o , I w a s o b s e s s e d ”
W h e n T a n y a p u t to g e th e r a n a u d it io n p ie c e f o r a lo c a l
m u s ic s c h o o l i t w a s n o t w i t h t h e in t e n t io n o f a c t u a lly
a t t e n d in g it. “A te a c h e r a t m y s c h o o l t h o u g h t I s h o u ld
a u d it io n f o r N e w p a r k M u s ic C o lle g e t o g e t s o m e m o r e
e x p e r ie n c e , b e c a u s e N e w p a r k is a p r e t t y h ig h ly r e c o g n is e d
ja z z s c h o o l,” s h e re c a lls . “T h e g u it a r te a c h e r a n d I t o o k a
m e ta l p ie c e a n d s o m e J a c o t h a t I'd m a n a g e d t o le a m , a n d
p u t t h e m to g e th e r f o r t h e a u d itio n . I t h o u g h t i t w a s ju s t to
g e t s o m e e x p e r ie n c e , b u t I g o t in t o t h e c o lle g e ! I d id n ’t k n o w
i f I w a s r e a d y t o g o t o ja z z c o lle g e , b u t i t w a s a w e s o m e .”
A t N e w p a r k , T a n y a h o n e d h e r c h o p s i n ja z z a n d o t h e r
im p r o v is a t io n a l s ty le s , a n d s o o n s h e w a s b a c k in t h e
w o r ld o f liv e g ig g in g , b ig g e r a n d b a d d e r t h a n e v e r. S h o r t ly
th e r e a fte r , s h e o p e n e d t h e d o o r t o h e r f ir s t b ig b re a k . "I
a lw a y s s a y y e s t o a g ig . T h a t's w h a t I le a r n e d S o I g o t c a lle d
t o a u d it io n f o r t h is te le v is io n s h o w .
..” T h a t s h o w w a s
Y o u ’r e
A S t a r ,
Ir e la n d ’s a n s w e r t o t h e X
F a c t o r .
W i t h a s t u r d y
f o u n d a t io n o f c la s s ic r o c k a n d f u n k , a n d n o w a r m e d w i t h
fie r c e im p r o v is a t io n a l p ro w e s s , T a n y a s te p p e d c o n f id e n t ly
in t o t h e r o le o f b a s s is t f o r t h e s h o w 's b a c k in g b a n d , a g ig t h a t
r e q u ir e d it s p la y e r s to m a s te r v a r io u s g e n re s i n r e la t iv e ly
s h o r t o r d e r a n d o n t ig h t p r o d u c t io n tim e lin e s .
A n y m u s ic ia n w i l l a g re e t h a t a g ig t h a t b o t h p a y s a n d
e x p a n d s o n e ’s s k ill s e t is a t r ie d - a n d - t r u e k e e p e r, b u t f o r
T a n y a , p la y in g o n te le v is io n p a id a n e v e n r ic h e r d iv id e n d -
e x p o s u r e . S h e w a s s o o n f ie ld in g o ffe r s a c ro s s t h e b o a r d f o r
m o r e s h o w s , s tu d io w o r k a n d g lo b a l to u r s . “ I d id a n o t h e r
c o n c e r t t h a t ’s o n T V e v e r y y e a r c a lle d C h ild lin e , w h ic h
is a h u g e c h a r it y th in g . B a s ic a lly th e r e w e r e a c o u p le o f
m u s ic ia n s w h o w e r e c a lle d t o b a c k a ll o f t h e o t h e r m u s ic ia n s
w h o ’d b e o n . S o I e n d e d u p p la y in g w i t h W e s t lif e a t o n e
p o in t a n d t h e n f r o m t h a t I e n d e d u p d o in g t h e [e x - W e s t life
s in g e r] B r ia n M c F a d d e n to u r . T h e s a m e y e a r I t o u r e d D u b a i
w i t h S h a r o n C o rr. A f r ie n d o f m in e c o u ld n ’t d o t h e S h a r o n
C o r r g ig b e c a u s e h e w a s p la y in g w i t h B o y z o n e , s o I g o t
a s k e d t o d o i t S m a ll c o u n t r y , y o u k n o w ? ”
A s T a n y a ’s c a r e e r g a in e d m o m e n tu m , s h e m a in t a in e d
c o m m it m e n t s i n a ja w - d r o p p in g n u m b e r o f b a n d s . “A l l t h e
" A T
O N E
P O IN T
I T H I N K
I W A S
IN
N IN E
B A N D S !
T H A T
C A M E
F R O M
C O N S T A N T L Y S A Y IN G Y E S
T O
A
L O T
O F
G I G S "
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