Interview : We caught up with Sorcha Richardson for a chinwag ahead of her support slot for All Tvvins at Dublin National Stadium.
Hi Sorcha, thanks for talking to us at RGM this week! Let’s start at the beginning – when and how did you get started in music, what was the first musical thing you had a go at?
When I was about seven my grandad gave me an old keyboard that he was getting rid of. I never took lessons but I taught myself to play chords and I started writing little jingles and stuff. Then I started taking guitar and drum lessons when I was ten and around the same time I made a band with my two best friends in school. We called ourselves 10 past 2 cause that was the time we got out of school. Then I think we changed our name to Lemon. We decided we wanted to play our own songs instead of covers so that’s when I started writing songs and I just never stopped.
2. And so from Dublin to New York city when you were just 18! That’s a serious relocation and I can imagine quite a culture shock. How did you get on at first in the Big Apple?
It was pretty crazy. I was going to college at The New School so I lived in one of the freshman dorms in the East Village for my first year. I remember feeling very overwhelmed when I arrived cause I didn’t really know New York at all it was a much bigger culture shock than I had anticipated. But living in the dorm made it really easy to make friends and pretty quickly I fell in love with the place. A couple of my Irish friends ended up in New York too so we had a little tribe and we used to just stomp around Manhattan. It felt like this big adventure that we shouldn’t have been allowed to be on.
By that point I had been writing songs for years but I never ever sang them. I had taken drum lessons for 12 years and I only wanted to be a drummer in a band. but I didn’t meet a lot of musicians in that first year in New York, and I wanted to start showing my songs to people, so I decided I decided to try and sing them myself. One of my friends turned his dorm room into a studio so we used to make demos and send them to all of our friends. People seemed to like them and were asking me for more songs so it gave me the confidence to keep doing it.
3. And now I understand you’ve settled in there, how are you managing these days?
I’m actually back in Dublin right now. I stayed in New York for almost 8 years. When the lease at my Brooklyn apartment was ended I decided to come home for 6 weeks. But I got here and started to get offers for cool gigs and tours and writing projects and so it just seemed like it made sense to stay a little longer. I needed a break from New York. I’ve been over to LA a couple times in the last year and I think I’ll eventually move out there.
4. You’ve recorded much of your music in the states, between New York and Los Angeles. Do you think there’s a reflection of that in the music you’ve released?
Definitely. Mainly because I write mostly about me and my friends, and New York and LA have been the backdrop for my life for most of my 20s. I often namecheck people and places and I want my songs to almost feel like mini movies. So I sometimes make it very obvious where the story is set.
Most of my songs that I’ve released have been recorded in LA with my friend Alex Casnoff. We did Lost, Ruin Your Night, Can’t We Pretend, Waking Life & 4AM together. I wrote all of those demos in New York, really late at night, and the demos all sound a little darker than the versions we ended up making in LA. Maybe that’s the sunniness of the surroundings seeping in.
5. Last year you were back in Ireland, managing to tour the country and hitting main stages at a string of big Irish festivals! How did it feel to be back in Ireland, was it like being back home or a different experience?
It’s been amazing. It’s definitely a different experience playing in Ireland. There’s something really special about playing the venues and festivals that I used to go to when I was growing up. And I always feel so supported here. Every show feels like a celebration. There’s certain songs, like Can’t We Pretend, which I wrote about leaving my friends in Dublin, that have extra weight when I sing them at home.
6. Your songs use a lot of story telling and emphasis on the lyrics. Are these all personal stories from your past, and if so how does it feel to revisit the memories?
Most of the time, yeah. I’m just mored inspired to write about stuff that happens in my own life. It feels like I have enough shit to figure out in my own head, and in my own relationships, that I don’t need to make stuff up or look elsewhere to find stories. It comes easier to me too. Sometimes it’s just fun to immortalise a day or night I had with my friends. Sometimes it’s my way of trying to make sense or something that happened. I like capturing snapshots of everyday, mundane life and trying to find the beauty in it.
7. Are your songs based on specific people and events, or more of an overall feeling? And when you go about writing a song what comes first, the memory, lyrics or music?
They’re usually about a specific person or a specific time in my life. The way I write varies a lot though. I usually don’t sit down and say “I’m gonna write about this” because if I put too many boundaries around it, I tend to get stuck. So a lot of the time I just pick up and guitar or sit at the piano, and improvise, and sing stuff off the top of my head, and see where I end up. That usual leads me to a recent memory and I kind of swim through it, almost like watching where my brain goes rather than trying to steer it in a specific direction. And then I fine-tune the melodies and lyrics as I go.
8. I understand you’ve been writing with All Tvvins, how did you get in touch with those guys and what was it like working with them?
I think we’d been aware of each other for a while, just cause the Dublin music scene is quite small. When I came home from New York I played a headline show at the Grand Social and Conor from All Tvvins came to the show. We hung out after and then the next week we spent a few days writing songs in his kitchen. The first song we wrote together ended up on the new All Tvvins album (I think it comes out next Spring) and the second song we wrote is gonna be on my album.
I love writing with Conor. He has such a good ear for music. He’s very impulsive and doesn’t overthink things. We’re hoping to do some more stuff together before the end of the year.
9. From your online videos, you seem to use a stripped back acoustic feel live, whereas songs like “Petrol Station” and “Walking Life” are more beauty and rhythmic on recording. How do you enjoy the dynamic, do you prefer the stage or studio environment?
I enjoy both for different reasons. Being at the studio is exciting because I get to really hear the ideas in my head come to life. Leaving the studio with a new song is one of my favourite feelings in the world. I used to always love flying back to New York after recording with Alex with new songs on my phone that didn’t exist a week ago. I love gigs too because they feel like a celebration of all of the hard work that’s come before.
10. So what’s in store for Sorcha Richardson as we head into 2019? More shows you’re looking forward to and maybe some new music on the horizon?
I’m just about finished my debut album and plan to release that in 2019. I can’t wait for people to hear it. I ended up singing on the All Tvvins song that I co-wrote and I think that comes out early next year. I’m planning some more shows and then in April I’m supporting All Tvvins at their headline show at The National Stadium, which is gonna be the biggest Dublin venue I’ve ever played. I’m excited for all of it. I think its gonna be a good year 🙂
11. Many thanks for talking to us, it’s been a pleasure and looking forward to whatever comes next!