Interview with Róisín O

It’s all go for Róisín O. In the past couple of weeks she has performed on The Late Late Show, had Ian Dempsey name her track “Here We Go” Song of the Week on his TodayFM breakfast show, and launched her debut album, The Secret Life of Blue. For most people, this would be exhausting, but Róisín insists she’s not at all overwhelmed.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” she says. “We had a big launch gig in Whelan’s last week. There was a huge crowd, and we played all the songs from the album – some that we had never played live before. It’s just a brilliant feeling.”

And indeed it should be – Róisín has been working towards this moment for most of her life. Daughter of Irish music legend Mary Black and Joe O’Reilly (owner of Dara Records), sister of Danny O’Reilly of The Coronas, music is in Róisín’s blood. From a very young age she was writing songs and performing as much as she could, and never had any doubts about her future career. “[Singing] was all I ever really thought about doing. There was never a point where I said, “OK, I’m going to be a singer now”; it was always something I was working towards. So to come to this point is great! I’m doing what I love, and I’m so happy.”

The Secret Life of Blue is the result of under a year’s hard work, a collaborative effort with band members Alan Tully (guitar/vocals), Brian Murphy (bass/vocals) and Ruth O’Mahony-Brady (keyboards/vocals). “Al or Brian might come to me with an idea for a chord progression and I would take it and write the melody and the lyrics. Then the four of us would get together and arrange it as a band,” Róisín says of the songwriting process.

Róisín places the sound somewhere in the realm of alternative-folk-rock, but says she’s still figuring out exactly what to name it. Her influences range from Lisa Hannigan and Wallis Bird on the Irish music scene to stadium rock bands like Radiohead and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and greats such as Joni Mitchell and The Beatles. It’s clear that the album is a labour of love for Róisín, who has to pause for thought when asked about her favourite tracks.

“Oh, that’s a tough one! I really love them all,” she laughs. “I think we are all so happy with how it turned out, but there are a few that stick out for me. I love “Synchronicity”, it’s a big builder. “Find The Light” is almost like a different genre of music in a way, there are a lot of drum loops and almost spacey music. “The Secret Life of Blue” is the opposite again – it’s stripped back, just voice, guitar and a piano. I love all of the songs, but those are my favourites right now.”

With support slots for The Heathers and her own headlining tour ahead of her, Róisín’s schedule is jam-packed. But there was still time for one more cheeky question – was there ever any sibling rivalry between her and big brother Danny? “No, no! Not at all,” she says. “There was no competition. He always sang, I always sang.”

Good thing too – there’s certainly enough room for two O’Reillys on the Irish music scene. Expect big things from Róisín O.

The Secret Life of Blue is out now. More information on http://www.roisino.com/@RoisinOmusic

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