Graham Luby chatted with the UCD Graduate and budding singer-songwriter ahead of her headline Whelan’s show
“To be honest, singing and performing is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I’ve gone for it now, so I’m lucky enough to try and be living it anyway!”
While snagging a headline gig in Whelan’s carries bragging rights for any upcoming artist, for 22-year-old RoisínO’Reilly, bringing in an impressive crowd whilst still unsigned is another situation entirely.
Better known on the European tour circuit as Roisín O, the budding Dublin songstress has steadily been crafting her art and building her reputation since the age of sixteen. At the age of just 22, her country-tinged vocal style (reflective of that of Emmylou Harris), and slots supporting the likes of Mary Black now have her being mentioned in the same breath as Cathy Davey and Wallis Bird.
“I suppose that from a young age, I was influenced by Irish singers that my parents showed me, and I was always encouraged to sing in my own voice, my own accent. I’m also very influenced by folk music like Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, that whole era.”
Now fresh out of UCD with a degree in Musicology, and with an EP (March’s The Thrill) under her belt, the Tribune got in touch and inquired about her plans on kicking her career up a gear.
The Whelan’s gig in March was to be her final headline show for a period of months. On top of touring throughout the Summer in support of a number of high-profile acts including The Coronas and Imelda May, Roisín also has her debut album in its foetal stages. “Me and [my band] are in every day, rehearsing, writing new stuff”, Roisín reveals enthusiastically. “The stuff I’d write about [to put into song] is really mostly drawn from my own experiences- hopefully, that’s what other people can relate to.” However, the band she put together are more than just hired hands. “The three lads- Alan (Tully, guitars and vocals), Darren (O’Reilly, drums and vocals), and Brian (Murphy, bass and unwillingly vocals) are really involved in the writing process. Before, it was just me who would come up with a song and we’d arrange it together, but now everyone has brought something to the table. We’re getting a lot of new songs together, hopefully we’ll get to record the album at thestart of next year!”
The past summer also brought huge exposure in the form of support slots and an onstage duet with U.S. country behemoth Brad Paisley, a fan-shot clip of which has already gained attention in Nashville. While a mainstay on the amphitheatre circuit in the States, Paisley is relatively unknown on this side of the pond. In hindsight, this worked in Roisín’s favour.
“The first time I met him (to do the duet) I was just like ‘Hi’, thinking, ‘I don’t know who you are!’”, Roisín admits. “I had no idea who he was before I did the gigs, but when I got off stage the first night, the guys from MCD were telling me that he was the third biggest touring act of last year in America, behind U2 and Bon Jovi!”
Thanks to Paisley, and also to the likes of Imelda May and Mary Black, Roisín’s introduction to bigger stages over the Summer has given her better command of her audiences and a much more confident approach to her shows, which will be evident at her headline show in Whelan’s on November 13th. If you manage to grab some down-time from studying, try to catch her; the odds of seeing her in such an intimate setting are getting smaller by the day.