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Rising Music Star Sina Theil On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Music Industry

An Interview With Jason Sheppard

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sina Theil is.

Sina Theil is a German-born, Irish-based multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and winner of the “Hottest Act in Irish Country Music (female)” Award. She started playing piano and composing her first songs at age 7 and moved to Spain at an early age, where she recorded her first demos. In 2015, she moved to Ireland to become a student at the prestigious Music College BIMM and fund her musical education through busking on the streets of Dublin.

Theil’s independently released album “Live at THT Galway” scored her a #3 in the main Irish Charts, ahead of global superstars like Ed Sheeran.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

First, thanks a million for having me! I was born in Hamburg, Germany, but at age ten, my parents and I moved to the sunny south of Spain. As exciting as this may sound, it was very challenging all the same. After all, I didn’t have any siblings, or knowledge of the country, language, or people. However, it taught me to land on my feet and adapt to any new situation.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Maybe I was born to do something relating to the arts. At age seven, I wanted to learn how to play piano and when I’d come home from school, sitting down at the piano was the first thing I’d do. My mom says that she could always tell the day I had had just by how I played; angry and fast, slow and soulful. I’ve always had a huge connection to music.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I’d say that’s undoubtedly the story of how I came to Ireland to start my career. It has so many twists and turns that I could probably write a book about it (suspense genre, ha, ha), but it all boils down to this: just make it happen. I had been writing songs since childhood but had never pursued music as a career. There came a day in 2015 when I realized that if I never go out and do it, it’ll never happen. I’ll be 90, sit in my rocking chair and tell my grandchildren how their grandma could have become a musician…but didn’t. So I enrolled in a music college in Dublin and moved in blind faith. No money, no contacts, no social media, no clue. Just passion, desire and the will to work hard. Now I have two music awards, over 40,000 followers on Facebook, over 13,000 radio plays in Ireland, and was on the cover of the prestigious Irish Music Magazine.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the beginning, I fronted a heavy rock band that I much loved called “Midnight Therapy”. I sang lead vocals and wasn’t the best guitar player. I was always terrified that I would break a guitar string while tuning it. So at the start of our gigs, I’d always pass my guitar to our bass player, so he’d tune it for me. On stage!! Ha, ha. Lesson — learn to use your own gear! Or, fake it ’til you make it. Either works!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

About two years ago, I continued making music as an independent artist. At the height of the pandemic, I played my biggest headline show at the Town Hall Theatre, Galway. The concert ended up being a live stream, which was a blessing in disguise, as many of my followers are from the US, Canada, Scotland and all around the world. It was recorded and released as my latest album “Live at THT Galway”. I am proud of it. Not just because it’s my first independent album (the two previous ones were released with a label) but because my online following or “Mad Hatters” entirely crowdfunded it, as they call themselves. I’ve also just completed a Premier Travel Guide to Dublin & Surroundings with the prestigious Irish Music Magazine. You can find it on SoundCloud! I love it.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is SO important. Here’s a great example. My 90-year-old grandma once told me that until she was in her thirties, she never knew that something like “gay” existed. That’s because when she grew up, in the 1930s, this was hushed and taboo. It wasn’t on TV, in the media or represented in art. Therefore, why is diversity in the entertainment industry so important?

  1. Because we are part of educating society. By showing it exists, we show it’s OK.
  2. By showing it’s OK, we help diverse individuals to grow up with a sense of “it’s OK to be who I am” We decrease stigma and prevent trauma.
  3. By representing an open and diverse community, we help to spread a positive message, ultimately creating a more accepting and happier society. Kids look up to their favourite singers, actors and sports stars and if these signal “it’s OK to be me, therefore it’s OK to be you”, they’ll (hopefully) believe it.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

First, I firmly believe that life is an opportunity to learn and we learn from experience. So no matter if someone tells us what to do and what not to do right from the start, we’re bound to make the mistakes anyway because we need to learn the lessons. We tell a kid that fire burns and not to touch it a million times, but they will still hold their finger to the candle. That’s because they want to experience the fire for themselves, in order to learn that it’s unpleasant and not something to be repeated. But since you asked, I suppose I wish someone had told me this:

1. “Sina, don’t take it all so serious; go with the flow and be gentle with yourself” Would I have listened?! Hell no! Ha, ha.

2. “Don’t believe that you can’t do it”. Often we’re so scared to fail and suffer from such imposter syndrome that we completely devalue ourselves and what we’re capable of.

3. “Your happiness is more important”. Success is nothing if what you do doesn’t make you feel happy. And if it doesn’t make you happy, maybe it’s better to pursue something else.

4. “Work now, rest later”. Even though I’m pretty disciplined, I can be a master procrastinator at times. However, I’ll forever have the undone work on my conscience and won’t rest either. So it’s better to work out a to-do list, put in 5th gear and just do it.

5. “Everything will be alright!” Just put in the work, be kind to people, get good at your craft and enjoy every second without the pressure.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I have the feeling that I’m the wrong person to answer that! I grew up in a family business, so I very much have a “do what you gotta do” attitude that can easily lead me down the rabbit hole of all-day and all-nighters. It’s hard for me to not do something just because I need a rest. If you’re someone who often puts work ahead of themselves, I can say this: “the work suffers when you’re exhausted”. Fun fact, I did a live video the other day after taking a few day’s breaks and the feedback I got was: “that was one of your best live videos and you looked so refreshed!” So if you won’t do it for you (which ultimately we all have to learn), do it for the quality of your work.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

First, thank you for the compliment. But I always consider myself just “the machine” while everyone else is “the fuel”. I couldn’t do it without the support. That’s what I love so much about my online community, the “Mad Hatters”. We’re creating a space that is open, accepting, and loving. Where people can be themselves and we share our stories. And that’s the movement I ultimately strive for; to be part of something positive, loving, and accepting. I love striving for a healthy lifestyle, both physically and emotionally. And the more people I can take on that journey with me, the better!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m so glad you asked this. Since I moved to Ireland without knowing a single person, there are a ton of people I feel enormous gratitude for. In no particular order, Billy Condon, the well-respected Irish fiddle player, has been such a rock. I value his helping hand and support beyond words. Glen Flynn, was my partner in crime in recording and producing my recent independent recordings. I had never sat in a recording studio with tears of laughter streaming down my face, so working with him is always a pleasure. Robert Heuston from the Irish Music Magazine, who every day fights the good fight for artists like myself and whose mentorship I treasure so much; Colm Sexton and Cinetex Films who create amazing video productions and are always there to help. There are so many more, but not enough space; so if we’ve ever crossed paths, know my heart is filled with gratitude for you. Last and not least, my “Mad Hatters” are the best people in the world and I treasure them so much.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Hard work puts you where the good luck can find you”. Had I just hoped that a music career would somehow magically drop into my lap, I’d probably still be working at some unfulfilling office job and wondering why life is so unfair. Instead, I took a chance and started putting the work in. And I’m so glad that I did.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Wow! That’s a very tough one! I suppose there’s a version of singer-songwriter Ashley McBryde’s “Bible and a .44” on my latest album “Live at THT Galway”. Her story is very much one of “do your thing and never give up.” I find that very inspiring. I’d love to meet her for a private lunch…

and while you’re tagging her, please ask her if she’ll bring her guitar!

How can our readers follow you online?

A huge “thank you” to all readers and yourselves for having me! You can join the “Mad Hatters” mailing list at https://sinatheilmusic.com/ and find me on Facebook (which is my main flagship) https://www.facebook.com/sinatheilmusic Instragram or Twitter at @sinatheilmusic. I post music, live videos and crazy things like a -110 Celsius degree cold chamber challenge! My new album “Live at THT Galway” is on all major download and streaming platforms and signed physical copies (which are my pride and joy) can be purchased at https://sinatheilmusic.com/shop See you soon!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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