This week is this irish girl’s turn (she always calls herself a music-making
ginger weirdo). Orla began playing guitar at the age of 12 and uploading covers
when she was 13 years old saying that she hadn’t the least idea how to sing so
she wanted some feedback on that. Since then she kept on doing covers and
writing her own songs.
I don’t really remember when I discovered her videos but I do remeber
that it was her cover of Haim’s The Wire the one I saw, so it may have been in
2015 because that was the year that I started listening to them as well.
Not only she has covers on her YouTube channel but also orignal songs.
Orla had released her first single Devil
On My Shoulder back in 2012, her first EP Roots in 2013 and the Lonely
People EP in 2015. All of them as an independent artist, which she still
is. Her music could be defined as folk pop or alternative pop. But no doubt she has an unique style.
[Roots EP - Orla Gartland (2013)]
One thing I love about her is her way of singsing and her passion for
what she does. I think that’s inspiring. As an aspirant artist I hope one day I
can enjoy what I do as much as she does and be as talented as she is, being
able to do any cover and any mash-up. I truly recommend her channel and her music.
Here’s one of my favorite covers/mash-ups of hers:
Irish singer Hozier is taking the world by storm with his soulful social critiques, says Neil McCormick
‘Whatever it is, it’s not pop music,” says Andrew Hozier-Byrne about the song that dramatically launched his career this year. Take Me to Church is a soulful, bluesy, gospel-tinged anthem about worshipping at the altar of someone’s sexuality. In his lyrics, the young Irishman (who performs under the name Hozier) aims sharp barbs at organised religion, tackling Catholic guilt and the doctrine of original sin. Discussing his inspiration, he quotes Elizabethan dramatist Fulke Greville’s 1554 poem “Chorus Sacerdotum” and the atheist writings of Christopher Hitchens. “Growing up in Ireland, the church is ever present, and a lot of the feeling in the song stems from frustration with its hypocrisy and political cowardice.”
The video is a disturbing black-and-white short film about homosexual repression in Russia, which has already notched up 29 million YouTube views. Take Me to Church has become a mainstay of American radio and Hozier’s self-titled debut album shot straight to number two in the American charts last month. He has been a guest on most of the major late-night American television shows, and during his latest American tour the 6ft 4in, skinny, scruffily bearded blues obsessive performed to venues packed with adoring young women. Pop titan Taylor Swift has been spotted at several of his shows, singing along. “I’m still trying to get my head around it all,” Hozier says. In a dingy corner of the Irving Plaza in New York where he is playing two sold-out concerts, Hozier admits to feeling a bit overwhelmed. “It’s been a very steep learning curve. By nature I’m an awkward person, I’m a gangly introvert. I feel my duty is to make music. And then you get into this whole malarkey. I just came from VH1 and they’re asking me about my hair.” He touches his bunched-up ponytail. “This is a man-bun, apparently.”
But rather than progressing into a dubious whinge about the price of fame, the serious, soft-spoken 24-year-old talks thoughtfully about how the internet is changing the very nature of fame. “We are in a self-obsessed moment of mankind. Everything is marketed towards the idea of the self, but not the real self, rather what you want people to think you are. Social media is an advertisement for the superficial extroverted self. I’m uncomfortable with selfies and status updates documenting mundane pieces of my life which I don’t think should be of interest to anyone else. The idea that people would spend some of their own human experience discussing the most trivial everyday experiences of somebody else’s life, I find that strange, and very sad in many ways.”
Andrew Hozier-Byrne was earmarked for success fairly early on. He grew up in the Wicklow Mountains, a very rural existence that he characterises as “countryside farm stuff”, although not without some degree of privilege. He attended St Gerard’s, a progressive private school in Bray with roots in the Montessori movement, whose alumni include the children of singer-songwriter Chris de Burgh, actor Daniel Day-Lewis and leading Irish concert promoters Denis Desmond and Caroline Downey (who now manages Hozier). His singing talent was developed in the choir and highlighted during blues performances at school talent shows, and at 16 he became a soloist with highly regarded Irish choral group Anuna. “People saw me as a vocalist and I could have gone the route of doing that entertainer-type TV show when I left school. But I wanted to be a singer-songwriter, even if I didn’t know what I wanted to say or how I was going to say it.”
He dropped out of a music degree at Trinity College, Dublin, to sign a development deal with Universal Ireland aged 19. “There were a few cases of working with producers where I just didn’t feel comfortable. In any kind of collaboration something gets lost. It’s hard enough paring down your own songs to their essence without trying to meet somebody else’s artistic vision halfway.”
Hozier’s sense of artistic purity stems from a lifelong obsession with the blues. His father was a drummer with Dublin pub blues band Free Booze and the young Hozier’s favourite film was The Blues Brothers, which he watched on repeat. “That led on to the Chicago blues, then I got really obsessed with Delta blues, one man and his guitar, and the Lomax field recordings, broadening out into soul and jazz, the building blocks of popular music.” He has a particular fascination with strong female vocalists, citing the impact of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, where “the voice was everything. I just followed what moved me. My interest even extended to early 20th-century music, like vaudeville. It was very raw sounding, when you have just a few microphones and you get the vibrant sound of a room. There’s a part of me that pushes toward that timelessness.”
After years of practising in his parent’s attic, “it all fell into place” when he sat down at a piano and wrote Take Me to Church. “It was the first song where I managed to cram in everything I wanted to say.” It was included on his debut EP, which went to number one on the Irish iTunes chart in October 2013. “Everything since then has been a whirlwind. Dreams coming true thick and fast.”
Superficially, Hozier might be linked with the contemporary sensitive singer-songwriter genre headed by fellow Irishman Damien Rice, although the thick swamp of his band sound and bluesy electric guitar playing add a very distinctive flavour, while his lyrical style is deep, dark and uncompromising. His album is filled with songs about mortality, repression and survival. “When I discovered Tom Waits, that changed the game. I think there is a difference between making music and writing songs, and to me the words are the core, that’s where the character and story is. I’m fascinated with what a song can be in the eyes of history, a snapshot of an era, almost like a photograph of the times the songwriter lived in. Whether that’s songs from the early 20th century mentioning rations and lines for food or Justin Bieber singing baby, baby, baby, you get an insight into the cultural mentality and society’s values, hopes and fears.”
His next single, From Eden, continues the religious theme of Take Me to Church, although Hozier proclaims himself an atheist. “From Eden is spoken from the Devil’s point of view. I always loved in blues music how the Devil can be a character who walks and talks. So awful is your state that it seems to be a presence around you. I don’t really spend time thinking about the nature of God but I’m interested in what people say about God, how it is used to control people and change policies in the physical realm.” Not everyone, I suspect, is delving quite so deeply into Hozier’s oeuvre. “I had an offer from a pastor to go and perform Take Me to Church in a maximum-security prison down south as part of a spiritual rehabilitation programme, a finding God type of experience. People hear what they want to hear. And that’s all right.”