A chat with Orla Gartland

For my last interview as Byline Editor of University Express, I had the opportunity of a brief but lovely chat with Orla Gartland ahead of her Cork gig in Cyprus Avenue in April. I saw Orla Gartland perform in Cyprus Avenue way back when in 2013 for the tour of her EP, Roots, so this was a nostalgic interview for more reasons than one.

Hi, Orla! How are you?

“Good, thanks. Currently sat in Manchester facing up to 2 weeks of neglected admin. Rock & roll.”

You are currently on tour with Dodie. How is it going?

“Really well, thanks. Dodie’s crowds are the best I’ve played to. I’ve learned so much about touring & feel more confident now about my live performance than I ever have before.”

You recently released a new single, ‘Why am I like this?’, it is a heart-wrencher in the beginning, and then picks up for the chorus (reflecting your bubbly self), and so relatable. What is behind this song – the thought process that brought about its creation and what you were expressing through it?

“THANKS! You charmer. The verses detail a couple of brief, regular real-life moments where I wish I’d acted differently, where I’d said or done something else in the moment. That’s me all over. Springsteen once described his song-writing with ‘The verses are the blues, the chorus is the gospel,’ – I wanted to try that with this song – the verses are specific to my own experiences, but I think the chorus line is something that rings through for a lot of people (especially the overthinking anxious types.. hey).”

You talk about moving to and living in London in a lot of your songs. How was that transition? What about it was daunting (if anything), and in what ways do you feel it was good for you?

“It was daunting but the best thing I’ve done. London is big & sprawling & terrifying but if you’re cut out for it I think it makes you work hard & fight for a career that you love – being around so many creative people really helps. I think if I stayed home I would have sat back and been content being the Most Talented Female Artist In Drumcondra, North Dublinwhereas now I feel more ambitious than that. I’m not quite set on world domination, but I’ve worked hard these last few years in London & built a great team around me – I guess the idea of a long career in music doesn’t seem so out of reach anymore.”

Patreon is something you use, a platform where fans can pay money to artists to receive extra content – in what ways has Patreon benefitted you? Do you feel it is important?

“Yeah, it’s a great platform. It works off the concept of patronage, an idea that’s been around a lot longer than I have. I run my Secret Demo Club on patreon – it’s a place where I send around original demos made in my bedroom to about 1000 people, who naturally are the people who care about my music most. So as well as a way of testing new songs out I can use the funds to tour and release more music without the need for a label – it’s a pretty revolutionary model for independent artist.”

It was the tour following the release of your EP Roots back in 2013 that I saw you perform in Cyprus Avenue. How do you feel you as an artist have changed since then, since Roots, and also your music – in what ways do you feel it has developed? What is the same, if anything, and what has changed, if anything?

“Ah cool! The core elements have remained the same – guitar is my main tool for writing & performing, I’d like to think the song-writing has remained honest & true to my character.. naturally I think I’ve just grown up as a person and with it I’ve had a chance to hone my live skills & my writing skills. I’ve learnt to produce my own music which has really helped me refine my sound, too – back then I was proud of the songs themselves but confused about what kind of artist I was. I feel a lot more set on that now.”

What are your plans for the future? Can we look forward to more music soon?

“Yes! My next single is coming the first week of April, and I love it. That song and my last single ‘Why Am I Like This?’ are part of a project I’ll be announcing soon!”

Orla Gartland, photo by @emilymarcovecchio via instagram

Published in the 2018/2019 University Express, Issue 10, by Byline Editor, Ciara Dinneen.

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