This Saturday November 22nd sees singer songwriter Emma O’Reilly release her EP ‘Purge’ in Bello Bar, in Dublin.
Emma says of the show; “I have two favourite types of gig, so this will be an evening of two halves, with a completely acoustic set first, an interval, and a full band set afterwards. There will be treats, surprises and exclusive live arrangements of the music. You don’t want to miss it!”
Tickets are available from HERE.
Emma previously featured in issue 5 of tabitha, interviewed by Fiona Donnellan, check it out below.
Fiona Donnellan: For those of you unfamiliar with your music can you describe it in less than 5 words?
Emma O’Reilly: Let’s go with “drama-infused dark pop rock”.
FD: Galway girl living in Dublin, do you feel you’ve had more musical opportunities here or what made you make the move to the big smoke?
EOR:I moved up when I started college – I had auditioned for a few music courses around the country but one of the courses in Dublin was my first choice. I’m from Ballinasloe – we’re extremely lucky there to have a lots of music going on between local drama groups, the musical society, dance classes, music teachers and the schools. I wouldn’t be who I am musically without those things. I’d started writing songs and sending demos to friends before I moved up, so it was like the songwriter in me was finally born when I got here because I started gigging. Dublin is where I worked on and released my first E.P., it’s where so much of my development as a musician has happened. I made it a goal to gig outside Dublin as much as possible this summer and I had such a great time – but I don’t feel like I’d know the music scene in any other city well enough to be able to say that Dublin can offer me more or less than another place.
FD:Is music your one and only passion?
EOR:Maybe not, but for the past few years it’s certainly been my focus. I never thought I’d be someone who’d have the resilience to live frugally, face all those highs and lows that the combination of big dreams and tiny budgets will throw at you – but it pulls you through. On good days that passion is your best friend. On bad days it’s like a powerful compulsion that you just can’t shake. But it drags you along either way. I love acting and art; I’d love to be involved in more plays and musicals, and I’d love to be drawing more and developing those things but I often find myself giving time away to music first. Let’s say I have other, dormant passions.
FD: Has the road to this EP release been a tough one, what was your biggest obstacle in releasing it?
EOR:Yes, it’s hard, but that’s the nature of a music career. The minute you stop, it stops. I know a lot of artists will agree with me when I say this, but for me the biggest obstacle has been fear. It might sound silly, but every phone call I make, take I record, every video I share online, every gig I play – it can all make you feel so exposed. With this E.P., I think my own choices have been my biggest obstacle in a way because for me it’s not just about music, it’s been about exploring how I want to work, how I want to create. For example, I wanted to record in a studio with a friend who lives in Galway, because I’m used to recording in more DIY settings. I wanted five string players to play my own arrangements. I wanted a live piano. I wanted different musicians on different ends of the country on certain songs. I wanted them all to be paid. This has meant massive personal sacrifices where money is concerned, but I’m happy with my choices. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned because of them.
FD: One comparison I saw made was with Regina Spektor, how do you feel about certain comparisons like that, do you think it’s apt or more of a hindrance?
EOR: They really don’t bother me either way. People use comparisons for lots of different reasons. Sometimes people use them to express why they like your music, to share how your music connects with what’s already in their head. Sometimes people use them to catagorise you so that they can get your music across to other people – and that’s pretty useful. I guess the only problem is that we all catagorise things in our own unique ways, so a certain comparison might put someone off a certain artist, even though if they were to hear the artist they might not agree with the comparison at all.
FD:What is the song ‘Mad’ about?
EOR: Most of my songs are like collages; they’re not written about one specific person or event so this song is about a lot of things. I wrote it with my friend Donal Sweeney (a london based musician and producer) in one evening, so it was a quick one. First of all, I was doing a lot of workshopping with Shakespeare’s King Lear at a drama course I was doing, so there are a few direct quotes and a few paraphrases from that text. In a lot of ways, MAD is about feeling disconnected from people you love. You can feel disconnected from someone even as you hug them, even as you really try to reach them. It’s got different shades of that frustration in it. But it’s also about accepting yourself and where you are, and even though you might be failing to connect, it’s not always your fault and you just have to trust the universe and keep moving.
FD: You also teach music, do you enjoy bestowing your knowledge onto others?
EOR:I did teach up until quite recently, but I never felt like I was bestowing anything on anyone. It was much more like an adventure or an excavation. The way I look at it, they’re the one driving, I’m just the tour guide. I work with my students to discover the music in as many ways as we can, and I get them to lead as much as possible. The most satisfying part of teaching for me is when I see a student who – probably after months of coaxing – takes control of their interaction with the music in some way. It can be bringing me a piece of writing, or even just telling me they did their work in a new way that week, or – my favourite! – that they’ve tried playing the piece in a new way and they prefer it that way! I love that. In those moments you’re then a musician talking to another musician. And that’s fun. It’s a privilege to watch someone begin to trust in themselves; it’s an honour to be there to witness those small but crucial moments of blossoming.
FD:Do you plan on touring extensively with this EP?
EOR:Oh God I’d LOVE to! I’m very caught up in just getting the EP ready for people at the moment though, so whether or not I can tour will come down to money and whatever spare time I have to get something together. I’m working on getting someone on board to help me with bookings so if I can get that into place, then hopefully I’ll have a bunch of gigs lined up around the country, and maybe even abroad. That’s the dream anyway!
FD:Is there a grand plan for an album in the next while?
EOR:I definitely have enough material for an album. I’m curious to see how the EP is received, in a way for me that’s going to help me figure out how I want to go about ordering it and releasing it. It is most definitely coming down the tracks, I just can’t say when.
FD:Biggest influence, be it musical or otherwise?
EOR:There have been so many influences – artists like Amanda Palmer, Rufus Wainwright, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and lots of cheesy pop. I’ve also been involved in a lot of classical music (mostly choral) and that’s had a huge impact on the way I write.
FD: Favourite act you saw at a festival this year?
EOR:Actually it was a piece by a friend of mine, Sherry Hazlett, at the SEE|HEAR event during the 10 days in Dublin Festival, performed by Judith Lyons and Dominica Williams. It was a religious text and it was probably the best setting of words to music I’ve come across in ages. So brilliantly written and performed. It’s up on soundcloud, you should check it out. Actually everyone at that event was amazing, [the quality of the musicians performing was so high; they had Wyvern Lingo, Hozier, and some brilliant composers like Éna Brennan, Anna Clifford all performing their work alongside some fantastic visual art.] Well worth watching out for their next event.
FD:Your tip of who is going to be huge in 2014, one Irish and one international act?
EOR: I’m just not very good at those kinds of predictions. Here are some acts I like though, Irish acts I adore include Chewing on Tinfoil, Sallay Garnett, Suzanne Savage, My fellow Sponges, Stu Daly, Ciarán Parnell, Liza Flume, Hozier, Nanu Nanu! Tiger Cooke, Heathers and Enemies.
International acts would be Janelle Monaé, she is making my life right now with that new album of hers. I also love Laura Marling, Stepdad, Tom Odell, James Blake.
Words: Fiona Donnellan
Photos: Shane O’Connor
Shot at the The Chocolate Factory.