Ladies networking and networking ladies, may I introduce Siobhan O’mcGinnity. Musician, research audiologist AND a non-for-profit creator – basically Siobhan is casually making the rest of us look bad. Warm, intelligent and poised, this woman is a humble force to be reckoned with, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I had the pleasure of catching up with Siobhan on one of Melbourne’s final sunny summer days, and quizzed her on future musical pursuits, juggling her passions and how she makes it all work.
Did I mention this kid also has a genuine heart of gold and rocks some eclectic style? Swoon…
Congrats on the recent launch of your single debut FIGHT – I’ve gotta’ say, it stirred some pretty intense emotions for me watching the clip. Can you tell us a little bit about the track and how you conceptualised the idea behind the clip?
Initially I wanted to film real women fighting in the Dojo I was training in at the time, but facing very real lack of money issues, I ended up using real life footage instead and editing it with my friend, Terry Mann. The end result was something quite powerful for me to sit back and watch. Women living a narrative we’re not often told in attack situations; they fought back, they won.
A little birdy told me your second single ‘Lonely’ isn’t far off; what can we expect from this track?
SO soon! Monday 10th of April and I’m super nervous/excited. It’s a little more rock/pop than I usually go, so nervous to see how it’s received.
We can’t wait! I’m interested in finding out a little about your song writing process…
I’m usually torn between a lot of commitments, so song-writing for me is almost like stealing a conversation away with myself. It either tumbles out like a lost friend, or comes out guarded and I’m stuck half-done for months or years.
For a while on the Melbourne scene you played keys and sung backing vocals for other bands, I’m curious as to what gave you the confidence to step out on your own?
I actually started with none.
I used to get panic attacks before going on stage, so stopped performing classically for a few years to focus on other things. Then one day in Melbourne, a friend phoned me up needing a favour – their musician for a improvised comedy show had had to pull out last minute and they were desperate. I think being ‘needed’ helped me help myself and slowly come out of my shell. I’m muuuuch better now and actually look forward to sharing my music live. Big change.
Right on. So, I have this vivd memory; years ago in a crowded Fitzroy pub, I watched with admiration as you courageously shaved your head for the Worlds Greatest Shave, raising over 6k for leukaemia research.
That’s right! What a time.
You’ve said it was this experience that inspired you to create ‘Musicians for hearing’.
Can you tell us a little about the organisation and what M4H are all about?
M4H is all about sharing the music. We’re a small non-for-profit using musical events and activities to fund hearing care projects where they’re needed most. For example, in our first event we raised 4.5k for a street hearing clinic in Cambodia.
You’re super unique in that you seem to give both the logical and creative side of your brain a red hot work out, often simultaneously. A research audiologist / musician isn’t a ‘slashie’ title we often stumble across…
How do you juggle your work and personal projects, are they quite separate, or is it often a blurred line between the two, I mean, three?
(laughs) Yeah, three. They are all different points of a triangle surrounding one love, sound. I use my work to help people hear, through work I get to enjoy being scientific and inventive, and through music I share the sounds I hope people hear. It’s my own little romance novel.
Is there anything you can’t do? Really, that’s a legit question. Name at least one thing you’re bad at so the rest of us can feel better about ourselves, immediately.
Oh man! I would never want to inflict that on anyone, there’s so many, but my favourite is sports. I try, I really do, but I’m just not that good at them. I came last in J division for our school swimming contest in high school I’ll let you count out how many divisions down that is. It’s way way last…
Phew. Okay, who or what inspires you?
So many people, and so many things! But to choose one, I’d say people who have that contented happiness that comes with being satisfied with what you already have, how do they do it!?
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I don’t force it. I work in bursts of inspiration and when I feel that headspace usually become obsessive and introverted until I’ve let it all out. Once I feel like it’s settled I come back out again.
Earlier whilst I was taking your picture, we were chatting briefly about mental health and how we both agree it’s often the darker times that are imperative for growth and personal transition.
You described coming out the other side of a difficult time recently as a ‘rebirth’, which I found quite beautiful and totally relatable.
I know I have a pretty concrete self care routine; how do you navigate this area of your life with all you have going on?
I let it slip when I’m busy, and I’m making that my number one priority to change at the moment. Instead of leaving my desk with a list of tasks only half completed, I create a list at the end of my ‘work’ time of everything I did achieve in that time. Often it’s much more than I thought and lets me walk away from the space with a clearer mind, not taking it home so to speak.
When you’re wonderfully old and grey, what’s the most important thing you hope to have achieved?
My Grandma has a picture of her and her four best friends in bathers, kicking sand up in a can-can on the beach. I hope I can look at a similar photo and still have their emails, addresses or phone-numbers.
What’s coming up for Magnets, and Siobhan?
Well first Lonely is coming out, then I’m doing my first solo show (eep) supporting a lovely friend, BATTS before doing my own Single Launch in June. I know it’s a bit after my release, but I’m writing my first science paper at the moment and it’s due on the 1st of June, So this is me pacing myself.
How can we follow your journey ahead?
My social page is @musicbymagnets
And you can check out the FIGHT here