Nitelife’s interviewer extraordinaire Joe McNulty talks to No.1 selling artist Mikaela Bonner after her recent success.
Ever since her manager, Brian Cunningham, broke the news that her single Suds in the bucket had made it to No.1 in the iTunes country charts, Mikaela Bonner has been on cloud nine. Her response tears; tears of joy at the shock of such an achievement, and the realisation of years of hard work in the pursuit of her dream . In the context of things, this achievement is even greater when you consider the calibre of opposition in a fiercely contested music market. Beating off competition from household names such as Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, and Nathan Carter to claim the coveted number one spot – no mean feat for a 22 –year-old from Lettermacaward in rural Donegal. We caught up with her during her Irish Radio tour.
JM: “I just want to say congratulations, and that it’s a massive achievement to get to number one in the iTunes charts, can you tell us how you found out about the news?”
M.B: “I was just sitting down in my Auntie’s house and Brian just rang me said that it had got into iTunes. He then said, “Do you want to sit down?”, so I thought it was something bad, as I was hoping to get into the top ten. Then he was like, “Well how does it feel to be number one on iTunes” and I just started to cry. The next day it was number five in the pop charts so the top five was Rhianna, Justin Bieber , One Direction, Adele and me. It was crazy, really, just mental.”
JM: “Growing up in Donegal there would be a great deal of interest in country music, is this something you’ve always been surrounded by.”
MB: “Definitely. Obviously in Donegal you’ve got Daniel O’ Donnell and everything he’s done and how good he is and then there’s Philomena Begley and Louise Morrissey, I thought they were just amazing, but back then, it wasn’t cool to be in country music. I loved singing and was singing from no age at all, then I went to college and studied music in Maynooth; I was classically trained, I was a classically trained Soprano, so it wasn’t anything near country. Then with the likes of Nathan [Carter] making it popular, I was like ‘maybe I won’t be picked on or bullied now’. I just love singing it, how upbeat it can be, especially at home with jiving being such a big thing.”
JM: “It’s really interesting that you went from being a Soprano to being a Country Music star, but it’s where you feel comfortable and it’s what you’re going to be focusing on in the future?”
MB: “I had what I call my Donegal voice and my Maynooth voice. I was touring America with the NUIM Chamber choir, and when I went home they would say that I had this very manly deep voice, like Whitney Houston or something. If I sang like a Soprano up in Donegal they’d think, ‘what’s this one on now she’s crazy!’ So I never really mixed the two, but once I went to country I knew I was definitely not a soprano, classical music is just not for me, it was Country all the way. I’m so comfortable up on the stage, even though I’m only at it four months now, I can feel every time I get up on the stage; I’m actually enjoying it more and more.
J.M: “Now that you’ve released your first single, what’s coming up next in terms of recording and releasing an album?”
MB: “So I’ve just released the first single and it’s available on iTunes, and now in the next couple weeks I’m back in the studio and I’m recording a new single. I hope to have that out by the end of March or April. In Newtown studios in Bundoran, that’s where I do all my work, I will be recording a ten track album, and hopefully have that out in October.”
JM: “Any gigs that you have coming up?”
MB: ”I will be in Wexford along with Stacy Breen. She’s releasing her single, so I’m down with her on the 27th of February. Then I’m in the Mellon Country Inn for Your Local Star on the 5th of March, I’m in Cookstown on the 5th of May and Wicklow at the end of March. They’re really coming in now, in the last week since I’ve put out Suds in the Bucket. People probably didn’t really know me before, but since they started hearing my name I’ve been getting so many bookings, it’s amazing. Hopefully, it stays that way.
With so much recent success, over such a short period, it’s an exciting time for the bubbly Donegal girl with the big voice. Her talent and passion for music are equally matched, and with those two attributes at her disposal, Mikaela Bonner is destined for a big future in Country Music.