Shell Dooley, 25, is from Dublin, Ireland. Starting her music career playing guitar and piano, Shell describes her guitar style as being rock based and her piano playing as classical which has resulted in a unique fusion of styles that have developed over the years.
Shell started composing music as young as 16 and her first pieces were primarily for solo piano. Studying Music Technology at university, which heavily influenced Shell’s future compositional style, completing her Masters in Composition at Trinity College Dublin where Shell began at expanding musical knowledge and exploring a fascination with sound and textures.
The issue of Violence against women is something we at ASLI take very seriously and we are always trying to find artists who are discussing this topic through artistic expression. We came across Shell Dooley’s music and it touched our hearts and immediately made us pay attention. Shell is a powerful musician with so much to be communicated through her beautiful music. Listen, share and support her, we hope to work on future projects with Shell, please read our interview with her:
What motivated you to deal with the subject of Equal Rights for Women/Violence Against Women in your art?
“Both of these subjects are very important issues to me. I thought that I could depict these subjects though music and help to create a mood and atmosphere to go with them in different ways. In the case of Equal Rights for Women, my piece ‘Constance’ is more of a depiction of a woman in action as an equal to the men in the same situation. However, the piece ‘Laura’ portrays the atmosphere and inner emotions of a woman suffering as a result of violence experienced.”
Tell us why you chose this submission?
“‘Constance’ is one my favourite of my own pieces. The piece was written in honour of the amazing and inspirational woman Constance Markievicz of the 1916 Rising in Ireland and was also influenced by my favourite poet W.B.Yeats, who frequently wrote about this era in Irish politics. I like the dark atmosphere that this piece has and the mood it creates.
‘Laura’ is my most recent composition. It is quite an intense piece of music and its intention is to create a sense of unease and fear to help highlight the subject matter of the piece. The ability to stir and represent emotions through the medium of sound is one of the things that fascinates me about music and this piece strives to do just that. This piece also holds some importance for me as it features a lot of my good friends voices.”
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“I have always found that I express myself best through music due to its unique ability to express emotions and moods. I think music can be interpreted in so many different ways that anybody who listens can take their own personal meaning from a piece. So your original intention may be heard or experienced in a whole new way by another listener. So many different feelings can be expressed without using words. I try to create “sound worlds” and atmospheres in my compositions to try and immerse the listener in the piece so that some emotion can be experienced when listening.”
What is your process when creating?
“I always begin with a concept or even a title. I’ll usually be inspired by something to write, be it a poem, picture or even something that has happened. This will always trigger an idea of what kind of sound I want to create. I’ll then plan the structure of the piece and choose the instrumentation. The sound world around the piece is very important so I’ll work out what that’s going to be and how it will fit around the rest of the music. Mood and atmosphere are the most important things to me as that is where the feeling behind the music comes from.”
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
“I was originally inspired to write music when I heard Nirvana for the first time. I loved how powerful the noise and raw emotion was in their music. This started an obsession with noise that I still have today. I also began to play a lot of classical music at around the same time, being mainly fascinated with Chopin, Bach and Poulenc, and I guess my love of the two styles inspired me to fuse the two together in some way.
I have a wide range of influences, though some of my favourite composers are Kaija Saariaho, Glenn Branca and Pauline Oliveros. I write a lot for guitar and these are generally noise-based pieces so some of my influences would come from rock music, though that list of influences in endless! My art is mainly influenced by literature as I would often write music after reading a book or a poem that I found particularly powerful or that gave me an image that I wanted to write a piece to. So many other different forms of art can be inspiring, it’s important to keep ears and eyes open. I may also be inspired to write a piece for a person or they may inspire some music themselves.”
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“Feminism to me is anybody, woman or man, who believes that women are entitled to the same treatment, respect and acknowledgements as any other member of a society. I would consider myself a feminist in the sense that I strongly believe that women should be treated as equals in any society. I know a lot of fantastic and talented women and men, and they should all be held and acknowledged in the same regard.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“The mission of ASLI is unique and effective. Creativity can be a life saving outlet for someone. And the work of an artist may be something that an individual in need can respond to and seek comfort in. Art can also raise awareness of issues that may not be best communicated in words. These are all important solutions that ASLI addresses.”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
“I don’t feel like women should have to conform to anything to be taken seriously. I think women in recent years have really pushed the boundaries and there are many strong, inspirational and individual female voices who do not revert to social norms or stereotypes. I think if you can make your voice is strong enough to be heard and you really believe in your art then you can overcome being subjected to a stereotype. Somebody’s talent will transcend any boundaries enforced by gender stereotypes if they work hard enough to be heard. Once anybody finds strength and happiness in who they are and what they can do, then what really matters to you can be achieved.
Although I have unfortunately come up against some challenges as a female in the creative industry, I have always believed in what I can do and worked hard at it to prove myself as a creative individual and not just a creative female.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
“I don’t think equality is present in societies around the world. However, there are a lot of strong and brave female voices speaking out about this in recent years and hopefully this trend will continue.”
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
“I feel strongly about anything that promotes equality in any sort of way. Currently with the referendum approaching in Ireland, I would feel strongly about Marriage Equality and the right for anybody to have the freedom to marry.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“Definitely. Art is any form is such a personal experience for the artist and the spectator, whether it is the artist pouring their emotion into their creation or the spectator relating their experiences and emotions to another’s art.
Music has definitely saved my life and helped me through difficult situations, be it creating my own music or listening to other’s music. In everything an artist creates, a part of themselves is put into it and I find this every time I write a new piece. Creativity in any form is a fantastic outlet for expression, communication and to deal with anything you may be going through.”
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
“It would be great if any music I created could inspire change, whether it be that it affected somebody in a positive way or it inspired an idea for somebody else. Any positive outcome from what you do makes the work worthwhile.”
What are your goals as with your art?
“I would love to have more of my works performed. I write a lot for electric guitar orchestras so it would be fantastic to have some of these pieces performed live.
My main goal with my art is to keep expanding my use of sound and atmosphere and see what other strange noises I can come up with! I’ve learnt a lot in the past few years about the endless possibilities with writing music and there is definitely more out there to experiment with.”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“I am currently going back to my roots and writing some pieces for solo piano. I have some collaborations with some talented composers coming up also.”
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