ONE OF the brightest rising stars in Irish pop music today is Galway woman Laoise and she hits the Róisín Dubh on Friday December 14, for what promises to be a triumphant homecoming gig.
Laoise’s Róisín gig is the culmination of her first nationwide tour and she has relished the gigs so far. “They’ve been great,” she tells me. “It has been really nice to try out the new songs I am working on for my next EP, and the best way I can get a reaction from people is playing them live. It’s fun to deliver it directly from me, it’s like it is coming right out of my body. It’s really nice seeing people react to the songs and then talk to them afterwards and hear what their favourite song is. I think it is the best music that I’ve ever made. It is the most exciting, and even though it sounds big and full, it is also raw and authentic, because I am not leaving anything out. It has everything I want to say.”
While she is today an electro-pop princess, Irish trad was a big part of Laoise’s formative years. “I remember seeing a violinist doing a solo in an orchestra and saying to my parents ‘I want to do that!’” Laoise recalls. “Within a few weeks I was studying traditional fiddle with Liz Keane who is incredible, but I didn’t realise for a while it was trad, because I had grown up with it, I just thought that was what everyone played.
'I’ve been doing all these gigs and my parents keep going ‘When are you coming to play in Galway?!’
"Then my sister started showing me pop music and I remember her getting a cassette of Aqua’s 'Barbie Girl' and then Imogen Heap who is one of my all time favourites. When I got older my dad showed me Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush and I gravitated toward Stevie Nicks. I have always gravitated towards women because I saw myself in them but I listened to everything. I played classical piano for a while and hated it, but those classes still stand to me now in what I am playing live, that theoretical knowledge of music I can switch on and off in making what I want to make authentic to me.”
Laoise’s love songs are not all roses and raptures. Her well-crafted lyrics evoke thorns and travails and yet the woman singing them is resilient. “It’s hard for me to be vulnerable in a song,” she laughs. “When I wrote 'Again' I was in a very vulnerable place. I wrote it first just on piano and it sounded very withdrawn. It wasn’t until we started producing it, and all of a sudden this confidence emerged that I didn’t realise was there."
'I nearly value that as much as I do the music. When I am writing I see lots of visuals and colours. I can look at my set-lists and each song has a different colour in my head'
"There is a juxtaposition there in that it may seem as though the narrator is super confident but if you read the lyrics on their own they could be bad. It all depends on my mood and where I am at; right now I am in a healthy mind set and am always working on that because I dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression in my teens, so it is always about working on that and writing is another tool to help that.”
As well as the sound of her records, Laoise also has an input into the visuals that accompany them. “I nearly value that as much as I do the music,” she asserts. “When I am writing I see lots of visuals and colours. I can look at my set-lists on this tour and each song has a different colour in my head, so I pay a lot of attention to that. I wanted to study art for a while, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to study music or art so it has been nice that I have been able to draw from that and put it into anything I want to."
"The visual aspect is exciting to work on because people see it on the internet and that is a platform that I can mess around on and test things out on. It’s important to me to keep it consistent because I want there to be a familiarity when I look at it, it feels like it’s me and when someone else looks at it they recognize it as being by myself.”
In conclusion, Laoise cannot wait to play her hometown. "I’ve played in the Róisín a couple of times in the past year or two but I haven’t done my own show," she says. "It’s funny I’ve been doing all these gigs and my parents keep going ‘When are you coming to play in Galway?!’ I’m excited and it should be good; I’ll have my full band with me and the support act is Roe who is incredible. She is about to go on tour supporting Snow Patrol. People should come down to see her as well.”