From Sorrow to Serendipity.
Oragh writes about the influences behind his debut album
‘Only 2 Late If Ur Dead’
Little did I know when I sat down beside MT Editor T.F.K. before a music journalists seminar at the recent Hot Press Music Show, slipping him the first advance copy of my debut album ‘Only 2 Late If Ur Dead’, that I would be now sitting down to write this article for Musician’s Together Magazine – Serendipity.
Little did I know that on that same day, the first, and only person to date, to actually buy the album would be Barry Devlin, a member of Horslips, as my brother Ultan – who died from cancer at the age of 32, and whom I dedicated the album to, and who’s quirky spirit haunts every song on it – was a huge Horslips fan. The 2 albums that he had beside the Cd-player on his deathbed were Bob Dylan’s ‘Shot of Love’, that beautiful and over-looked album with the ‘Property of Jesus’ track, and Horslips’ Celtic Collections compilation – Serendipity.
And little did I know that just when I reached the point in my home recordings when I needed to think about getting into a studio with a drummer, that, lo-and-behold, who should I bump into in my local supermarket only the drummer from my old band Woodkiss (We were described as Alternative, Post-Gothic, Indie Rock – whatever the hell that meant!) whom I hadn’t seen in 15 years and the next thing I know she was down banging out the full 9 songs in one, single, intense and emotional day – Serendipity.
I grew up in a small village in County Meath in rural Ireland where the only two tunes that ever seemed to be played in the local pub were AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’. And it was those rhythmical spiritual song-stories of Marley and The Wailers that really hooked me onto my musical path – although my big brother did show me how to play some of those A Chord AC/DC riffs!
But strangely enough I feel my influences don’t come from music: Apart from my own life – and there’s no doubt that losing my brother who was only 4 years older than me will continue to colour my song-writing for the rest of my life – I’m as much influenced by news, stories and current affairs than by anything musical, probably more so, in fact..
Back in my rock band days I was all about the Pixies and The Cure and Joy Division and The Replacements, but I’ve only really started listening to music again in a big way since completing the album. I’m far happier settling into a box-set of the latest off-beat American drama, sci-fi or sit-com than wading into a rock back-catalogue.
I had taken a break from the music biz for a long time cause I felt compelled to do something about my singing as up till then I’d been shouting and roaring, aping and imitating what other singers did. Then at the Bel Canto School I was told the simplest and most valuable thing – to just sing like I speak and to follow the example of John McCormack and even John Denver who showed how it’s okay to just use your own accent and natural clear pronunciation and just to be happy being true to yourself.
Brian Keenan’s book ‘An Evil Cradling’ continues to be a touchstone, that cinema of the mind where he lost himself in music and imagination during those long years of captivity; and how he showed what human beings are capable of with his deep reserves of self-belief and the inner strength needed to survive
And so I brought out my debut album earlier this year – for an agnostic lapsed Catholic like me, Easter Saturday, the day between Crucifixion and Resurrection seemed an appropriate day to release it. At its heart it’s essentially a self-produced home-recording. Yes – additional recording of drums, acoustic guitar and mixing were done professionally but I certainly didn’t have Coldplay’s producer doing radio-mixes for me!
Being my own producer I had to decide whether to make the album as eclectic as possible or to only have tunes of a certain theme or mood or feel so I tried to go for a combination of both. Two barely written fresh songs were added, some songs
didn’t make the cut at all and some are being saved for the follow up. One of the curious things for me during the writing and recording of the album was how
my song-writing had changed – no longer was I jamming on the guitar to come up
something – Now word-melodies were just popping into my mind and the music was coming after.
I’d be of the old school that believes that albums need to be listened to in the correct order – especially seen as I agonised over the order for weeks and I’m still unsure if I got it right – and in their entirety especially the first time. Random shuffling kills the point of having an album; albums are not collections of singles – to me they’re collections of stories that lead to some kind of conclusion or finality.
There is definitely a cathartic element to the album; of grief that finally got expressed artistically. There’s no need for therapy or healing when you’ve got music!
Check out Oragh’s MT channel http://musicianstogether.com/user/oragh
And also review of ‘Only 2 Late If Ur Dead’ here in the Mt Mag.
Category: Artist/Band Spotlight