(Photo courtesy of: Kara MacDougall) “Roisin Queally is enjoying her time at UMass Lowell as a voice major.”
Sophomore Roisin Queally turned down a spot at Berklee to major in sound recording at UMass Lowell. She has many passions– perhaps none greater than her love of the arts– and says she has her sights set on moving to New York City one day to break the glass ceiling in the music industry.
Queally said she was drawn to the atmosphere at UMass Lowell because the community here is down to earth. She likes being surrounded by a variety of students, rather than strictly other “music people.”
“I am a voice major here, but I play guitar and bass, and some keyboard too,” said Queally, who was trained as a classical singer.
In high school, Queally was the only girl who played in a band called Victorian Breakfast. She described the band’s sound as “alternative,” but different than what she typically listens to. One of her all-time favorite songs is “When You Sleep” by the band My Bloody Valentine: Queally says she likes that the song is “ambient, pedal-heavy” and features “electric guitars with hella reverb.”
Although Queally has a wide range of musical skills and experience, she still acknowledges that she will face many barriers while pursuing her dreams.
“Something that’s just on my mind a lot is [that] sound recording is very male-dominated… just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I can’t do this stuff,” said Queally.
And although she continues to refine her abilities as a singer-songwriter, she says that such labels don’t “totally fit” what she wants to accomplish in her career.
“I’d love to do freelance live sound too, at concerts and shows around New York,” said the Dorchester native.
Queally says she feels uncertain about pursuing a career in the Big Apple due to the gentrification of the city. While she enjoys the idea of being involved with behind-the-scenes work in a major city, she says that she is still fascinated with the human voice and how people’s emotions influence their artistic style.
“You don’t have to just sing ‘normal’… [you can] use your voice as an instrument. I don’t like to sing pretty about something when I don’t feel pretty about it,” she said.
Queally’s emotional approach to songwriting is influenced by her love of nature and her passion for environmental protection. Her favorite weather is right after it rains when the world around her looks like a transcendentalist painting from the Hudson River School era.
Queally says she is a pescetarian on the path to becoming vegan, and she believes that social issues go hand in hand with climate justice. She says that she tends to be accepting of others and that she is willing to “fit [their] energy.”
“It’s hard for me to be mean to someone,” Queally said. “I think that most hatred and bigotry comes from a lack of understanding. If everyone tried a little bit to understand each other… I feel like [the world] would be so much better.”
But despite the somewhat dismal state of the world and the impending threat of climate change, Queally said she refuses to be discouraged. She pours herself into her passions whenever she feels stressed, saying that she will “write, write, write” about her feelings to help clarify her thinking and express herself.
“We’re here to better understand each other and to love people around us and the planet that we live on. People always forget about that,” she said.