Lisa McHugh chats motherhood, married life and career highlights

Lisa McHugh Pic: Beta Bajgart for VIP Magazine

Bounding into the room just in front of his dad with an enviable amount of energy, little Milo’s eyes scanned the space for his mam. Off to the side of our suite in the Conrad Hotel, Dublin, country music singer Lisa McHugh, was sitting and chatting away with our glam team, filling us in on her recent UK tour with Gavin DeGraw.

“Over here,” she called softly, and he bolted for a snuggle, fresh from a snooze.

Lisa’s husband Nathan joined us on the day, but even though he preferred to stay behind the lens rather than in front, he played a vital role, ensuring everything ran smoothly. Think chief snack-grabber, nap organiser and the one who’d get Milo to smile on cue. And as anyone with a smallie knows, it’s no mean feat.

“I’d be lost without him, you know,” Lisa tells us, gazing over at Nathan. “He’s a brilliant dad. Milo adores him – as do I. We’re a good team. I don’t want to get too soppy here, but I do feel genuinely very lucky and don’t take any of this for granted. They’re my world!”

And we’re delighted Lisa welcomed us into that world for a few hours, as we snapped away and got to know the family a little better.

Lisa McHugh Pic: Beta Bajgart for VIP Magazine

Lisa, thanks so much for joining us today! Milo is just the cutest little lad!

He’s comical! He’s starting to put sentences together and coming into his own personality. It’s a lovely age. I just adore spending as much time with him as possible!  It’s a tough job though, being a mum. There’s a lot of juggling and it can be tiring, but it’s the best job in the world.

Were you prepared for that, or was it different to how you imagined?

It was a massive adjustment to be honest with you. I didn’t realise just how much everything changes, and how much you change personally. It changes not just your physical body, but how you think about things, how you approach things, how you want things done. As clichéd as it sounds, it really is a life changing experience. I’m definitely a different person now since having Milo, and you realise what’s important in life.

What have you learned about yourself since becoming a mam?

I have to learn to relax and let go a little bit, like if he’s not in a routine every day, it’s not the end of the world. I was always a very laid back person and I wasn’t bothered about most things, but you go into protective mode when you have a baby, wanting them to be as happy and healthy as possible. It isn’t a bad thing, but I’m learning to let go a bit in that sense.

How have you and Nathan found the experience of figuring things out together?

Ah, I couldn’t do it myself! Nathan’s an incredible dad and he’s very, very hands on, especially when I have to do some work, he doesn’t even hesitate, he’ll automatically jump in and knows he has to take care of things – like now for example! He’ll run the fort and make sure he’s looked after. It’s amazing to have such support.

Lisa McHugh Pic: Beta Bajgart for VIP Magazine

Nathan’s quite a private man but is that hard given your career in the spotlight, especially on days like this?

Yeah, but I suppose my life is in my spotlight because of my chosen career. Nathan’s the complete opposite but he’s happy to be there and support me.

Can you talk to us about your relationship? Where did it all start?

We met on a random night out in Enniskillen, we just happened to bump into each other. I was out with my best friend after a show. We were in a nightclub and he was in the smoking area, and my friend knew him from school. He was from Enniskillen but he spent years away for work so he wasn’t normally around but this was his birthday night out, and he happened to be home. She decided to talk to him and introduced us to each other, and from that moment on, we’ve spoken to each other every day!

That’s a great friend you’ve got!

Yes, she is!

Now you’re married, with a gorgeous little baby! Has he changed your lives?

Absolutely! He’s changed everything, but for the better. He’s not even two yet, but I can’t remember what life was like without him around. He makes everything so much better. We’ve always wanted kids, so it’s lovely that we were lucky enough to have Milo and have a happy, healthy baby. We’re very family orientated. Being a mum is something I’ve always aspired to be.

Lisa McHugh Pic: Beta Bajgart for VIP Magazine

When it comes to your career though Lisa, how do you find touring with the baby? Do you bring Milo along, or does he stay home?

The majority of the shows I’ve done since he was born have been in Ireland and for some of them, he’s been able to come along with me, particularly if it’s daytime festivals or an afternoon show. I love having him there! It’s great to be able to have my artist hat on, and go out and be the performer I am, and take the mum hat off for a while. When I was away in the UK on tour with Gavin DeGraw that was the longest we’d been apart for work, which is hard, but I knew he was absolutely fine.

Being on stage performing your own tracks, what’s it like? What goes through your head? 

The shows with Gavin were a bit more special because they were all my own songs. To be performing for brand new audiences and to get such a lovely reaction, was great. It’s great to have had that opportunity. It’s very exciting that people are tuning into my music and
enjoying it! It’s the best feeling.

When it comes to penning your own music, what inspires you, what do you draw from?

The songs from the album out now have been written about my experiences over the last few years, all the ups and downs, from my career to being single, meeting Nathan and us getting married. So we’re up to that chapter! Now I’ve started writing again and it’s all about more recent experiences such as having Milo, adjusting to motherhood, learning to juggle a career and all those things. I like to write about things I’ve personal experience in and hopefully people can relate to that.

Do you ever find it hard putting so much of your personal self out there?
In my music, no, the more honest and raw you are, the better. On social media there’s definitely an element of where the line needs to be drawn. I have my personal life and I think it’s important to keep some things to yourself.

Lisa McHugh Pic: Beta Bajgart for VIP Magazine

Posting aspects of your life online, and being in the spotlight, do you ever worry about sharing your family and your home?

I’m ok with it for the most part until I get messages which might make me feel slightly uncomfortable and then I reign it in and block those people, but they’re few and far between to be honest. I’ve very supportive fans and they’re just genuinely interested [in my life]. It’s all good for now!

Speaking of fans Lisa, country music is so popular here in Ireland – why do you think people love it so much?

I think part of the reason it’s so popular is down to the tradition of growing up with the radio on. Country was definitely on at one time or another, and played in every house. It’s something that people have grown up with and it’s always been there. It’s really poignant and particularly shows when you do concerts in rural towns, everyone sings along because they know them so well.

Was that always the route you wanted to go down with your art?

Oh yeah! I grew up listening to country. My mum and dad were huge fans of it. I loved the American country music, artists like Dolly Parton, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks. You’ve also got the more modern artists like Kelsea Ballerini too. I’ve always loved the songs, and the melodies. I felt much more comfortable singing country songs than pop songs when I was a teenager.

You just mentioned Garth Brooks there. He gave you a shoutout last year, so was that a bit of a dream come true considering you’ve been a fan yourself for so long?

Absolutely! I never thought I’d see it, that he’d be aware of who I am. I posted a video of myself playing around with Milo and singing while he was in Croke Park and never, ever expected him to see it, never mind comment and share it for all his fans. It was a massive deal and it was a pinch-me moment for sure!

Lisa McHugh Pic: Beta Bajgart for VIP Magazine

Do you think you’d ever head to the US yourself on a full-time basis for your career?

I’ve been to Nashville a few times over the years and I absolutely love it. It’s the home of American country music, that’s for sure. I’ve been lucky enough to perform there too. It’s somewhere I’d love to go and explore to see if there’s any further opportunities that could take my career to the next level.

You were born in Glasgow but have been living in Ireland for years. Do you consider this home now?

Yeah, absolutely! I’m very happy in Ireland. I love the town where I live, the people around me too. I’m very settled. It’s a great wee life there and I don’t see that changing any time soon!

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