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Q&A: Orla Gartland

24-year-old Irish singer-songwriter Orla Gartland started to garner attention after posting covers versions of her favourite songs on YouTube.

But these days it is her equally as original compositions that are receiving recognition – and quite rightly so.

Following her EP release we caught up with Orla to talk about her influences, growing fan base, being compared to Stevie Nicks and much more.

Firstly, how was your recent sold-out tour? How did it feel seeing the tour dates sell out?

It felt huge. I’ve been working towards this point for a long time so to see people excited about coming to the shows was pretty dreamy.

And before that you were touring with Dodie, and played the Roundhouse, that must have been great?!

It was amazing! I love dodie so much. Her own show is incredible – I’m lucky enough to play guitar for her, so playing such an iconic room for not one but TWO sets felt like a big moment. Her audiences are the best in every way.

So you’ve released two singles already this year, ‘Why Am I Like This?’ And ‘Flatline’, both have such a fun, pop vibe, what influences you?

I like pop melodies and pop production with darker themes running through the lyrics. Both songs are about topics that to me felt pretty heavy, but I didn’t want to sing them against a moody backdrop – that felt too obvious. I think that kind of contrast in writing is something I love – Robyn is the absolute queen of that, with songs like ‘Dancing on my Own’.

You have described ‘Flatline’ as “a song about giving everything to a friendship and getting nothing back…” – what was the catalyst behind transforming that feeling into an indie-pop song? You do so well at combining melancholy lyrics with upbeat tunes.

Aha! I answered the last question before reading this one.. great minds think alike. I think the chorus lyric just felt so dramatic when we wrote it – ‘I’m holding a flat line to make you feel alive’.. I would DIE for you, basically. When a line is so theatrical it sort of warrants a big beat and a big bassline, somehow.

You’re known for your confessionary song-writing and have been compared to Stevie Nicks, what was it like being compared to an icon? Do you think you’ll always use this way to write songs?

It’s an intimidating but flattering comparison – we’re not an obvious pair to link but I definitely strive for the same confessional feeling in the music I write. What’s the point if it’s not honest, what’s the point if it’s not about telling your own story through your lens? That’s what artists like Stevie taught me.

You’ve now reached over 8 million plays on Spotify and over 180 thousand on youtube! At what point did you feel like you started to gain a following, was it something that you realised at a particular moment?

It was very gradual honestly, and I’m really grateful for that. I’ve seen overnight success happen to people I know and it can be exciting.. but the pressure it can bring is unreal. I’m glad to have done this at my own pace with people joining along the way.

What’s your favourite song at the moment and why?

‘Tobacco in my Sheets’ by Lauren Aquilina. She is the best songwriter – it’s so real, painfully so. I love her.

How did you get into music? Did you always know it was something you wanted to get into?

I played violin as a child then moved to guitar.. and started writing some version of a first song at about 14. I didn’t know it could be a job but the idea of using music to express myself always felt quite exciting. Having that emotional outlet is huge.. it’s the part I’m most grateful for now!

Your EP Why Am I Like This? came out in May – how long has it taken to put the EP together?

It was produced over just a few months but the writing has been over a much longer time – I’ve lived in London for 4 years and it was a big move for me, so I wanted to pick a song from each of those 4 years, to give a snapshot of myself at each point and situations I was in along the way. So ‘Flatline’ is 4 years old.. which is a long time to have a song and still like it.

What are you plans for the future?

To write an album I’m proud of and tour the heck out of it.

Stay up-to-date with Orla Gartland:

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Q&A: Orla Gartland
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