Orla Gartland

Orla Gartland

London based Irish singer/songwriter Orla Gartland found fame posting videos of herself playing acoustic cover versions of songs she liked on YouTube. At present, her channel has received over 11 million views. Silent Radio’s Fran Canning caught up with her while she was in Manchester for her sold out show at The Deaf Institute.

To start, for people who do not know. Who is Orla Gartland?

Who am I? I just turned 20, I’m from Dublin in Ireland and I did the YouTube thing for quite a few years, which is why I’m lucky enough to have a couple of people come to gigs. I live in London now, trying full time to learn how to write a good song. That’s basically it.

At Silent Radio we are all about being positive about music, what are you positive about at the moment?

It would be a bit boring if I said music too, because that is your thing.

You can elaborate.

I feel very positive about a lot of Irish music at the moment, mainly because we have just came back from there. There is a band called Kodaline.

I saw them last night.

No way, here? Where did they play?

Albert hall. Amazing.

I didn’t know they were playing last night. They are flying the flag quite well. There is quite a nice gang of people representing us quite well at the moment. The gang are all doing a great job, all releasing albums and doing great things. I’m feeling very positive of Irish music in general, but also all sorts of stuff. There is some beautiful stuff coming out of the UK at the moment, especially the album we listened to today by Rae Morris who I am a big fan of. There is another girl called Shura that I really like. She’s from London as well, from West London. So I feel very positive about music as well, particularly Irish tunes.

In terms of the Irish music, I went to see Hudson Taylor recently.

Yeah, I know them really well.

To me it was more than just a Hudson Taylor gig. They had a guy Jack Morris on tour with them.

Yeah, Harry and Alfie’s (Hudson Taylor) best friend.

Gabrielle Aplin, she got up. Southern were the other support band. It seems like there is almost a bit of a support network amongst these artists.

Definitely. There is a nice community and it stems I think a lot from there isn’t a huge amount of people in Ireland doing it. Just by ratios and population and boring things like that. There are a lot less people in Dublin for example, making music than there is in London. I think it’s easier for people to find each other and also you get to know people at venues, people in radio stations and newspapers and everything. You kind of see the same faces coming up again and again which eventually forms very very easy friendships. So it’s really good. Weirdly enough, I think in a weird twist of fate if it wasn’t for the Hudson Taylor lads I would have never came over here. They were the first gang that I knew really well, we used to go busking all the time in Dublin on Grafton Street which apparently got banned last week, which is a bit of a buzz kill. Luckily it wasn’t at that stage, and that was my first experience of performing and stuff. When I left school and was trying to figure out where to take things, I saw that they had gone on to London, had management and were getting on really well. Working really hard at it and loving the scene there, it’s a big part of why I popped over as well. So yeah, all sorts of crazy links, a very very small world. We’re popping up everywhere.

I did find one of your busking videos, it was an Eminem cover.

It was awful (laughs)

Orla Gartland - Roots EP

Orla Gartland – Roots EP

On top of that, recently on your YouTube you did a rap to promote your upcoming tour. What are your influences when it comes to rap?

Well, funny you should ask that, I actually am a big Eminem fan. Obviously I don’t actually rap. I listen to a lot of Eminem and know a lot of his early stuff just completely off by heart. I used to do ‘Lose Yourself’, as a live cover in a quite serious way.

Your YouTube channel, it is hitting 11 million views now I believe. How do you feel?

Terrified, that’s a lot of people. Yeah, I don’t know really. It’s hard to process that to being real people isn’t it? Just figures on screens and stuff. I find it quite hard to translate them all across. It’s good, I feel very lucky. I don’t know how and why those people found me, but I’m glad they did.

On your Wikipedia page, it says you describe yourself as a ‘music makin’ ginger nutcase. Two part question, is that correct?


And, if so what is the nuttiest thing you have ever done?

That’s a really good question, and now I have to back it up. I’m going to seem really boring now. Err, let me think. I don’t know off the bat. I’ll come back to you on it.

Your first single was ‘Devil on my Shoulder’. When was the last time you listened to the Devil on your shoulder?

Ooh, there it is.

I was dead proud of myself when I came up with that one.

I guess the whole idea is obviously like a cartoon thing where you have an angel and a devil. This guy is telling you bad things, this guy is telling you good things. I have a generally positive outlook but I think before shows I have a tendency to convince myself that no one will come. I find that if it is empty for whatever reason that I won’t be disappointed, and if it’s full I’ll be even more surprised. I guess that is a bit of a negative influence, assuming the worst. Sometimes I find that’s the best way to push me.

Your first EP ‘Roots’, the lead track was ITunes single of the week. How did that help your career?

I don’t know really, it’s hard to see. That went up when the EP went up, it’s hard to see the direct link between that and how that filtered through. It’s cool, I think anything that’s ITunes single of the week gets about 200,000 downloads or something like that. A few people sometimes come up at shows and know me from that, so it’s only by chance that I even remember that that happened. It’s hard to see the direct efforts, but it was definitely a good thing.

The reason I ask is, ITunes recently have stopped doing that promotion.

Really? Does that not exist anymore?

It doesn’t exist anymore.

What the hell? That’s really weird.

Orla Gartland

Orla Gartland

I guess I was wondering what your thoughts were as someone who has benefitted from this promotion.

I know ITunes are launching their ITunes radio, a new thing. I think it’s a hybrid of radio and streaming, maybe like an online thing. Maybe they will bring it back as part of that? It’s weird to get rid of it. That was a very popular thing.

Personally, that’s where I first heard of you, and of course a lot more artists.

Ooh, amazing.

I believe in February 2014 you told the Sunday Times that you had a 15 year plan for success. So, one year into that plan is it all going well?

I don’t know really, I probably said that in a moment of over confidence. It seems to be going in a good direction, which is nice. I think I’ve probably realised that there is only so much planning you can do when you are doing something like music. You can only really plan a couple of months in advance, sometimes six months or something. Yeah, as long as things are sort of on the up and as long as I’m still enjoying it that’s the main thing. As long as I’m still enjoying it that feels like a positive thing.

So, you’re on your UK and Ireland tour. How’s it all going?

Really good thank you, yeah. Good, chuffed to bits. We just came back from Ireland. That was really fun. The Dublin shows were probably one of the best nights of my life, really really enjoyed it. I’m now back in the UK, good delighted. Really really chuffed. As I said I’m always surprised when rooms are full. It’s a cool feeling being able to do that all that independently, I feel very lucky.

Silent Radio is a Manchester based website. What kind of feelings do you have about coming to Manchester to play?

Yeah, I feel really good. I don’t know why it is, I think maybe it’s a size thing. I feel like I love it more than the city where I live. Maybe like a size thing because the size is so much smaller than London, where I can feel overwhelmed by the size. Manchester and even Bristol feel a lot more manageable, they put me at ease and I feel bit more relaxed too. So very good, lovely people.

So, just a couple more things. You have a new EP out (Lonely People). Do you want to maybe tell us about that?

Yeah, it’s a four track EP, second one I’ve released. It was about time to get one more out there really, I’ve been writing solidly for a year, so they’re things to come out of that, trying to figure out how to write good songs. Yeah, chuffed to bits. We’re playing it on this tour for the first time and getting a really nice response, so yeah brilliant.

I believe you are heading over to the USA and Canada in March. You must be excited?

Yeah, it’s cool. What’s cool about the YouTube thing as well, you can’t really specifically target areas, it’s not like a formulated label thing. If people respond well in one place then that’s just coincidence and just roll with it. That’s kind of what I’m doing, I’m kind of just riding the wave of it. People responded well in America so why not book a tour? It’s good, very positive.

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