Clodagh O’Sullivan, an artist under the name Clodagh, is a dear friend of mine – we go way back to early secondary school days – so it is strange to find ourselves where we are now: years on, both in college, and at a stage in life where I am the writer interviewing my friend, Clodagh, the musician, who has just released her first single, ‘Grey Clouds’ (read my review here).
I met with Clodagh yesterday for a catch-up chat over tea (which was beyond lovely, but that’s a point for another post), and we took the opportunity in the end to put aside our personal relation for just 20 minutes or so to conduct a professional (well, relatively professional) interview. Here it is. Enjoy.
Who is Clodagh? How would you define yourself, your music and what you’re about?
Clodagh is me as an artist and I like to let the music define itself, but for me it’s all about just understanding what it is to be alive and as I am releasing my music I feel so vulnerable, like an open book, but it’s also very liberating to share my story. I am not very sure about myself as a person, but I am sure of my music; it gives me a voice and what I want to say with that voice is that where ever you are on your journey it’s totally ok, this is where I’ve been and this is where I’m going.
When did you get really into music, as in, where does your love of music stem from?
I never really got into music, it’s always been a part of my life. I went to school in the countryside and I remember the trips to and from school singing at the top of my lungs with my Dad and siblings and it grew into a passion from there. I started performing with The Contradictions and knew from there music was going to be my life no matter what.
During secoundary school, Clodagh was in a four-piece band called The Contradictions with friends Katherine Scott, Tara Murphy and Ciara Dinneen (myself).
Define your music in a general sense… How would you define/describe your own music, and what genre do you feel it fits into best?
I’m useless when it comes to genres but I would say atmospheric, maybe even experimental if I was to try and put a label on it. I was terrible at music in school because I didn’t understand it and when I did I fell in love with the weird and wonderful world of chord progressions and harmony; my music is basically me delving further into the possibilities of music and writing my story over it. It’s the perfect combination of using my head and heart together to create.
“I like to let the music define itself … I am not very sure about myself as a person, but I am sure of my music; it gives me a voice and what I want to say with that voice is that where ever you are on your journey it’s totally ok, this is where I’ve been and this is where I’m going.”Clodagh, on her music
Song-writing is your thing – talk about your process when it comes to writing songs – where do you begin? What comes first – the lyrics or the melody?
I spend a lot of my time on the train and I use that time to read poetry and write lyrics. I use my weekends to sit at my piano and sometimes with my guitar and mess around until I find something I like and then go to my notebook for inspiration. The two processes are separate for me but always find a way of working together.
Talk about some of your biggest musical influences. What artists have you looked up to, and which do you continue to look up to?
I grew up listening to Irish music, the likes of The Dubliners and The Chieftains so they would have been influences of mine. ABBA was always on in the background. I wish I could say The Beatles and Queen and the likes but I didn’t discover them until I was older.
What music do you listen to in your own time?
Tom Odell would be at the top of my list. I’m always listening to The Staves, Lianne la Havas, Lisa Hannigan, Wyvern Lingo, Heathers, HAIM and Jessie Ware as well. Who else? Sigrid is releasing some good stuff at the moment, as is Billie Eilish. And I’m really getting into Maggie Rogers right now.
Which do you prefer; performing live or recording in studio? If you had to choose to do one over the other for the rest of your musical career, which would it be?
I’ve always been very awkward performing, but I do love the response you get to see in the audience, having people there listening in the moment. At the same time, I think, you get a better sense of exactly what you want people to hear when you’re in the studio – you have more control and more freedom.
What are your hopes and plans for the future?
I’m gonna keep releasing music no matter what so keep an eye out! I would also love to teach music, share my passion with people. I’m very much trying to live in the present right now so the future is mine to make one day at a time so all I can say for certain is I aim to keep music as big a part of my life as it is now.
What advice would you give to anyone with a passion for making music and song-writing?
Just keep doing it. Educate yourself on the industry, knowledge is power and as my business teacher once said “Don’t be a dick”. I would also say to mind your mental health, I personally find it easier to write when I’m in a bad place which of course isn’t a good thing. You have to find the balance.
“I’m very much trying to live in the present right now so the future is mine to make one day at a time so all I can say for certain is I aim to keep music as big a part of my life as it is now.”Clodagh, on the future