Three years is a long time in music
For Dublin born songwriter and musician Orla Gartland, the last three years of her life have been focused around creating a fresh start for herself and the music she makes. Last week she released her first new solo music since 2015, a single named ‘I Go Crazy’.
“It’s about telling someone that you love them for the first time and not hearing it back,” she explains as she touches on the meaning behind the song, “that’s what happened. It was very sad.”
The track has drawn many a comparison to the queen of angst ridden rock Stevie Nicks, which Orla has been completely pushing herself. Referencing ‘Edge of Seventeen’, Orla sings about being on the edge of twenty two, feeling as though she has aged through the dramas she’s experiencing surrounding the track’s topic.
Whilst touring in the band of YouTube vlogger Dodie Clark, ‘Edge of Seventeen’ seemed to follow her around, constantly playing in shops Orla went in and becoming stuck in her head. “I was like ‘this is so weird, I’ve heard this song so much” she says, as if fate had brought the song to the forefront of her life at this point.
“I was like ‘I really love this Stevie Nicks song and I would love to have a song that has that sort of mood to it!’ There was no kind of gritty, bitey, angsty ones and I feel like the driving rhythm of this song feels very angsty to me.”
This tour also added a lot of new, dedicated fans to Orla’s already enthusiastic online following – who, to her surprise (but literally nobody else’s) have suck around over the last few years and received her new release into loving open arms.
“I think I assumed everyone was gone!” she exclaims. “I thought I was starting from scratch or something, but then everyone was so nice. When it comes to online followings, they can be so fleeting and I think I sort of underestimated mine as I seem to do all the time. I think there’s like two of them and then suddenly they all tweet at once and I’m like ‘oh my god, people are still there!’ it’s amazing.”
Another star born from the ‘posting covers on YouTube’ route into industry, the pop singer rose to fame online in 2013 with the release of her debut EP Roots – an acoustic, earthy toned collection of tracks that completely reflect the ‘singer/songwriter’ culture of the time. Complete with a series of animated music videos in which she gets eaten by a whale, it was only the start of the ‘DIY’ direction Orla continues to take with her own brand today, visually, but also with the quirky vocal and Irish twang that slip into her songs, her bubbly personality still managing to take centre stage no matter how polished or produced a track may be.
However, in a recent interview with Popjustice, Orla has mentioned she is considering taking the material down from online streaming sites because “when I see it there on iTunes and Spotify, there’s just something about it. I just don’t connect with it anymore.”
Orla began releasing music around the time that the idea of an EP had a lot more importance that it does today, just before streaming took off. The pressure of achieving high on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts, and expectations from fans who saw Orla’s friends (Lewis Watson, Gabrielle Aplin, Hudson Taylor, Nina Nesbitt) pushing EPs around this time too, meant she released music prematurely.
“I’ve come from that circle where the narrative for a lot of artists was that you released an EP and it got to the top of the singer/songwriter charts and then you either continued independently or you signed a deal and made an album. That was actually really nice, there was a simplicity to that that I kind of miss.
“People were like ‘oh so when are you gonna release an EP?’ and I was like ‘oh, am I gonna release an EP? Okay, I guess I better just take what I’ve got and just chuck it out!’ I think if I just hadn’t felt the pressure I wouldn’t have put them out.
“It’s also quite exciting that there are less rules now like about whether you just do singles, or you do EPs, or you do two songs at a time, you do ten songs at a time – I think what Spotify has done has been really exciting. There are less rules. I guess that’s why this feels like my first release in a lot of ways because I’m so new to Spotify culture and I feel like I’m doing this for the first time round because it’s just so different to 2013.”
Starting afresh, with a poppier, well rounded sound, she wants to “give off a general vibe that this is a new chapter.”
“There’s definitely gonna be a bunch of people who think this is the first release” for example, the fans she has gained through touring with Dodie Clark as the guitarist in her band, who may be unfamiliar with her previous material, “and I’m not correcting them!” she laughs.
“This tune and the tunes to come are basically like me finally feeling happy in my own skin and my own music and my own everything.”
Words by Lucy Fletcher