Your lyrics are really breathtaking - they speak on their own in such a distinct poetic way. There are a lot of themes and parallels embedded within them such as sin, humanity, myths, womanhood and pain. What are the driving influences behind your work and what compels you to write songs?
Thank you very much. I’m not always sure what compels me to write. Pain can definitely be a driving force, music and any artistic medium I suppose can be a way of navigating and overcoming pain. A lot of my songs are initially triggered by pain or sadness but I think the end result is often more about the triumph of survival. Ideas of Womanhood are something I come back to, I’m interested in expressing aspects of femininity or ‘femaleness’, whatever that is, and a lot of my songs stem from my anger about oppressive patriarchal structures, and sin is something I don’t really believe in. Mythology is great, mythological characters have formed a sort of language of archetype and metaphor that can be universally accessed. But songwriting for me is generally just an instinctive urge and I don’t want to over intellectualise it. It’s often only after I’ve finished writing something that analyse where it came from. I suppose, much of the thematic content of my songs come from a mix of rage, pain, fragility and survival. Great at parties.
Your recent song, Persephone, features details and references to the original myth with your own modern take interlaced in the music and style of lyrics. Tell us more about the inspiration and process about this and how this translated into you making the music video?
In that song I think Persephone is more of a symbol than a character. I wrote the lyrics about 7 years ago now and it’s meaning has changed for me over time. I can’t remember what inspired it originally, but Persephone is a metaphor for the need to experience darkness in order to appreciate the light - in the way that Persephone is held in the Underworld and her release brings the Spring. The ‘darkness’ I guess can be anything and I don’t want to over analyse it as I think applying your own meaning to music is part of the joy of being a listener. I wanted to make a really campy hammer-horror style video with fake blood and vampires, so me and my best friends went to Phoenix Park on the coldest morning I’ve ever experienced and drank a load of red wine, lit some candles, played with some deer and stabbed some pomegranates. Ciaran O’Brien, a brilliant videographer I’ve worked with loads, kindly filmed and edited the whole thing.
When did you first start to make music and has it always been something you've known you wanted to pursue?
I think when I was 13, I started teaching myself basic guitar chords and wrote my first song around then. But that doesn’t really count as it was probably terrible, a few years later I started writing and performing in earnest. I’ve definitely always wanted to write and I always secretly wanted to sing but I didn’t think I was good enough until my mid teens, or rather I stopped caring about my voice being stereotypically ‘good’ and just knew that I wanted to use it regardless. Before that I wanted to be some kind of adventurous mountaineer/explorer or an archaeologist. Would still happily do either to be honest.
There seems to be a lot of visual language connected to your work, not only envisioned through your lyrics but also played out in music videos and artwork featured with your songs. They feel like the amplify the stories and ethereal tones in your music. How important is the visual storytelling part to your work and how do you merge the two?
Really important! Visual art is something I really care about. I’m still working out how to merge more visual aspects into my work or my performances, but I will get there. I’m kind of obsessed with film, I think film might be the one medium that drives me to want to create more than any other. I want to learn more about photography and film editing so I can be more self-reliant when it comes to visual work, I have very clear ideas in my head and I’m not always great at verbally translating them. That said, I really enjoy the surprises and magic of collaborative work too.
Define the word ‘Human’.
Some kind of non-binary point between on Venn diagram between empathy/fear, pain/survival, selfishness/love. In an interview with Nan Goldin, she describes her work as 'about the condition of being human: the pain, the ability to survive, and how difficult that is.' I think that’s about right, but I think there has to be a place for joy in that definition too. Joy is Human.