In Conversation | Naoise Roo

There’s a spiky gothic charm about Naoise Roo. The Dublin native stalks similar shadows to those of Nick Cave, Neko Case et al, though she rises above soundalike status thanks to a voice that simultaneously manages to allay and excite.

Her style is perhaps best encapsulated in current single ‘For You’, a patient distillation of sombre quicksand that could accompany the denouement of a particularly tense slice of cinema. As she looks toward the release of debut album Lilith at the end of next month, the rising songwriter sat down with HeadStuff for a chat regarding her influences, writing process and more.

HS: What do you make of the Dublin music scene right now?

Naoise Roo: Dublin is brimming with music. I often describe it as a town where you can’t swing a cat without hitting a musician. I haven’t grown up in another city so I can’t compare scenes, but sometimes I realise how lucky it is to live somewhere where great original music is being performed somewhere every night. It’s truly a hotbed of talent. Every scene has its downsides, ours is oversaturation probably, and of course the inability to make the vocation very lucrative.

It can be sometimes disheartening to see the amount of bands who dissolve while on the precipice of getting the attention they deserve, but I guess the aim of the game isn’t the longevity of one particular guise but rather just making something you’re proud of that someone might respond to. Though I do think it’d be great to see media in Ireland supporting more local artists and as a result those artists being able to make a livable wage from it.

What’s your earliest musical memory?

I think I was always writing songs. I had a tiny notebook that I wrote poems and songs in when I was about five or six. In my head I imagined it as a proper journal but when I found it years later it was definitely the notebook of a six-year-old who’d watched too many dramatic teen shows… But I was always trying to turn everything into a song. I still do that. I sing what I’m doing far too much.

What were your parents listening to when you were growing up? How has that influenced your taste?

My mother’s taste influenced me a lot. She’d play artists like Siouxsie, Pulp, REM and things like the Pulp Fiction soundtrack a lot. She used to get these mix tapes from my aunt. They had everything from New Order to Sammy Davis Jr. When I was very little I was a big fan of Motown, sixties stuff. Etta James, Aretha Franklin and for some reason the organ solo in Del Shannons ‘Runaway’ filled me with way too much joy.

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Can you take us through the process of recording ‘For You’? Is it different to how you first imagined it while writing?

It was always a very stripped-back song. Live, we would use these ambient swells so I think I always imagined it would have elements of soundscape. My engineer Liam started experimenting with a live jack and that’s how we got the glitch pulse throughout. We sort of built the rest of the sounds around that and the guitar. Some of the other tracks on the album evolved into different sounding songs in the studio for sure, but ‘For You’ was probably the closest to how I ideally imagined it in my head.

What’s coming up for you in 2015?

Well the album – Lilith – is out on Little L Records on April 27! I’ll be playing a launch for that sometime late May/June. Then festival-wise I’m playing Vantastival on May 1 and The Thin Air stage at Sunflower Fest in August so far. Otherwise its back to doing some writing and demoing for whatever comes next!

Finally, what gets your vote for best album of 2015 so far?

Probably Vulnicura by Bjork, I’ll be giving that a lot of listens this year.

Featured Image Credit: Brian McNamara

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