OSM: Has music always been your passion and did you grow up with music in the home?
I grew up listening to my dad’s vinyl collection – back when vinyl wasn’t retro! I specifically remember hearing The Beatles, Dire Straits, Cat Stevens, Al Stewart, and James Taylor. I always recall having a love of music, but only as a listener. It wasn’t until recent years that I started to explore music of my own. In fact, it was at the ripe old age of 40 that I picked up a guitar for the first time and started learning to play at home. A couple of years after that I started writing my own songs.
OSM: Your new single ‘If I Could Survive This’ is out now. What was the songwriting and recording process of the track?
Every song I have released so far, I wrote myself, on my own. This is the first song I have released that I co-wrote with someone else. I wrote the song with my great friend and talented guitarist Eric Molimard. So, the songwriting process was a little different, more collaborative. I found when you write with someone else, you can get a very unique result. You get a blend of your individual creativity and theirs, as well as your musical influences mixed with theirs. In truth, you get something you just wouldn’t write on your own. And then, in studio I worked with the brilliant producer David Arkins, who always knows how to make the sound in your head a reality, make it better in fact.
OSM: What is the general theme of the song, is there an overall message?
The song shines a light on mental health by relating my own story. I struggled for many years, largely because I didn’t make enough time for myself and to connect with who I really was. I was always trying to please others, seeking their approval. I aimed for perfection in everything I did and was never happy to just enjoy the journey. I eventually found myself in a dark place and was forced to confront old demons. Thankfully, I spoke to my wife, family and close friends and worked with someone who helped me through a difficult time. I came out the other side with a different perspective on life. I’m now happy in my own skin and remain conscious enough to enjoy the here and now (most of the time anyway!). So, I guess the overall message in the song is for people who may be feeling how I felt… “if I could survive this you will too”.
OSM: You have in the past spoken candidly about struggles with mental health and ‘feeling lost’. Do you find picking up the guitar and songwriting therapeutic?
Absolutely. I have never known a more powerful way to get things off your chest, to organise your thoughts and feelings and make sense of them. We are always told to talk about how you’re feeling, and that for me has always helped. But what helps more is writing. And, even more than that, belting those thoughts and feelings out in the form of song. It’s not just therapeutic, it’s cathartic.
OSM: Your debut album ‘Awakened’ is on the way - what can listeners expect from the album?
I think the album has variety. I didn’t want people to get to the third or fourth song and say ‘it all sounds the same’. Some songs might get you up and moving, others a bit more mellow. I always struggle to assign my music to a specific genre, but I guess it’s a mix of folk and folk-rock mainly. But, every song tells a story. Some are personal. Some inspired by the stories of others. I think these are the kind of songs I could only have written with a bit of life experience.
OSM: What challenges have you faced since launching your career?
As an independent artist starting out, I think the biggest challenge is having to do everything yourself. In a way, writing and recording the songs is the easy part. It’s all the other stuff that is challenging. I am very lucky to have great support from family and friends, which makes it possible.
OSM: What are the plans for the year ahead for yourself, do you have any live performances scheduled?
I am looking forward to releasing the album on July 22nd, that will be an incredibly proud moment for me. Then I am playing a headline show with my band at The Workman’s Club in Dublin on September 3rd, which will be special. It’s all slightly terrifying, but very exciting. After that, I have no idea where the journey will take me next, but I’m going to enjoy it nonetheless.
OSM: If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
I think the industry could have more supports for independent artists starting out. I know lots of really talented artists that most people have never heard of. It is really difficult for these to get heard above the noise.
OSM: If you could share the stage with another band or performer who would it be?
There are so many. But, if I had to choose one, I would probably say David Gray. I played his White Ladder album to death, it would be a dream to share a stage with him, he’s a legend.
OSM: What songs are on your playlist right now, which songs are you into at the moment?
There are a couple that stand out. I love Taylor Swift’s new song Carolina (from the movie Where The Crawdads Sing) – she has been writing some great stuff in recent times, different from her usual pop vibe. I have also been listening to Irish artist David Keenan’s new song Semidelinquent – I really like this guy’s music.