Motley’s Current Affairs and Sport Editor Dylan White talks all things music with “ginger nutcase” Orla Gartland.
Orla Gartland is a 19 year singer/songwriter from Dublin, known for her brilliantly original brand of quirky folk pop, bursting with personality and catchy melodies. In her early teens, Orla went to her “fair share of awkward sweaty teenage discos, with girls on one side of the room and boys on the other”. However, little did she know that she would be selling out gigs across the UK and Ireland a mere seven years from the time she first started off performing. “I started singing at age 12 and I started playing guitar then. I didn’t want to be playing just classical fingerpicking pieces on the guitar. I wanted to play what I heard on the radio. I never went to singing lessons, so it became kind of a natural thing”.
With over 57k Facebook likes, 21k twitter followers and a staggering 10m plus views on her YouTube account, Orla feels “very grateful” to have such a fan base, considering she is yet to sign a record label. She says it’s something she’ll look at in the future and is concentrating on just selling out shows and releasing music for now. “[It just shows] the power of the internet. I have a love/hate relationship with YouTube. It’s done so much for me and where would I be without it? In the other sense, I never wanted to be considered a YouTube artist because it can become a weird label and a bit of a novelty. I just want to be a real musician”. Orla remains intent on keeping grounded and enjoys meeting “everyone after every show to say thank you personally”.
Orla believes that TV shows such as ‘The Voice of Ireland’ and ‘The X Factor’ are suited to people with a powerful voice that are willing to sing other artists songs.
Up and coming talented musicians with a rapidly rising profile tend to attract a great deal of media attention, but Orla feels she doesn’t fall into that category. “It all comes down to what kind of music you play. [Take Laura Marling for example]. She’s like a super folky, guitar woman that sells out huge shows with thousands of people. The fame and success element is there but there is something about the music that makes her not a tabloid person. She’s not on the front of a magazine. She went out with Marcus Mumford and it was never written about anywhere. People just accepted it”.
Orla believes that “the more poppy your music is the more of that kind of tabloid gossip stuff that comes out”. She noted: “My kind of music is quite poppy but there’s weirdness to it and I’d like to think that it’s going in the direction that no matter what happened I wouldn’t be in that position”.
One recording artist who has most certainly been making the headlines as of late is Miley Cyrus. Miley strikes Orla as “someone who isn’t dumb and knows exactly what she’s doing”. She explains: “Miley is part of a major worldwide deal and she has a lot of men in suits that are getting filthy rich from her shaking her booty. She knows that being very controversial is the way to create a talking point and it’s indirectly a way to make people come to your shows. It’s not necessarily a value I agree with but it has worked for her”.
Up and coming talented musicians with a rapidly rising profile tend to attract a great deal of media attention, but Orla feels she doesn’t fall into that category.
Orla has no plans on following in Miley’s footsteps, and would say no to shortening her skirt and acting in a more seductive manner on stage. “You have to be straight with people from the beginning and set out rules. ‘Ok we can sign this but on my terms. I don’t want in three years to have to have to do Strictly Come Dancing and I’m a Celebrity’. It’s not like I’d ever be at that level but you have to be really clear about what you will and won’t do from the beginning. People respect you more if you’re on the same page”. Orla also says money wouldn’t talk as she’s used to being “super skint”. She added: “When I’m in London I’m living very much a student lifestyle, just scraping by. Luxuries like going on holidays and going to festivals you essentially get for nothing [being involved in music]. [This summer], I’ll go to a couple of festivals for the entire weekend and I’ll count them as my holidays”.
Orla feels the Irish music is currently witnessing a revival and is in a golden generation, and says we need more venues to facilitate peoples growing excitement for music. “Hozier Kodaline, Little Green Cars, Villagers and the Heathers [are class]. I went to see Villagers in Vicar Street before Christmas and they had an orchestra with them. It was so cool. These past few years for Irish music have been ace”.
Orla believes that TV shows such as ‘The Voice of Ireland’ and ‘The X Factor’ are suited to people with a powerful voice that are willing to sing other artists songs. “They want wow moments, high notes and what I’d consider the over sing [of music]. It’s not an after care process or a life changer. It’s a TV programme so I wouldn’t go for it myself but it’s good for some people”. Orla also questions Louis Walsh’s influence on the music industry today, and feels people “just take the piss out of him”. She added: “Poor Louis. He’s not representing the Irish very well”.
Orla is moving to London very soon and has plans to go to LA in April. She is currently working on another EP, following the success of her first EP ’Roots’. “You need to know who you are before someone comes along and tells you. I have to figure that out. It takes time. [Take a band called London Grammar for example]. Their journey is similar to a lot of people’s journeys in that they locked themselves away for two years and worked on a sound, developed it every single day meticulously and then came out with it and it’s theirs. I feel I’m in that development but I’m doing it more publically because of the internet. But I’m certainly not a finished product”.
Orla is the oldest of three and admits that her “super supportive” Dad drives her around for all the Irish tour dates. She says the loud and interactive crowds at her recent gigs in Cork and Dublin are “tip top never going to forget kind of days”. Orla embarrassingly admits that she sometimes forgets the words of her own songs on stage and says she has a habit of eating Doritos cool original before she performs which dries up her voice. She once had a guy at a gig in Leeds ask her to sign his “manboob” and girls wanting her autograph on their backs. She would love to do a gig in UCC if the opportunity arose and encourages aspiring musicians to utilise websites like YouTube, but not to put all their eggs in one basket. “Focus on gigging. [Set up a YouTube account] so people have a place to access your stuff. [But more importantly], taking every open mic, every small gig, all the dingy, horrible ones, and then you’ll progress”.