IRISH artist Outsider…
talks to me about his self-titled E.P. and the new single, Míol Mór Mara. I ask about the use of Gaeilge in his music and whether he considers that ground-breaking - Míol Mór Mara, Gaeilge-sung, is the first time such a track has been featured in a video game (FIFA '18). Outsider tells me about that and what how he views guitar music now – and whether it is too dominated by the middle-classes. He looks ahead to touring and plans for the remainder of the year – and what it is like being signed to Warner Music.
I delve deep into a fantastic young artist and, in return, and provided an honest, open and revealing interview from someone who is making big impressions already.
Hi, Outsider. How are you? How has your week been?
I am fighting a chest infection at the moment but my week has been incredible - lots of people getting in touch about the new E.P. and wanting to talk.
The lead single, being on the FIFA soundtrack, takes me to a lot of new ears.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
The best way to get to know me is to listen to my music and come to my shows – it’s all online. Send me a D.M., too, and introduce yourself - I will more than likely respond at some stage.
I am trying to be like Henry Rollins and reply to messages as much as possible.
Míol Mór Mara is the new track. Can you explain what those words mean and hat inspired the song?
‘Míol Mór Mara’ means ‘sea whales’ and translates literally into English as ‘giant beasts of the sea’. The song is about a child with Down’s Syndrome I worked with when I was suffering from huge heartbreak - and it had a profound influence on my life. The kid was so inspiring and pulled me out of a dark place really just by spending time with him. It's got a lot of biblical references to Jonah and the Whale - which is symbolic of diving into the sea of the unknown and becoming something far greater than yourself in a spiritual sense.
The song has deep layers of symbolism and subconscious meaning and people are responding to that…they are connecting to the human element.
Your self-titled debut E.P. is where the song was taken from. What was it like recording your first E.P.? What experiences and lessons did you learn from the process?
It was arduous at times because it was recorded, engineered; mixed and produced by myself and ATLAS (My producer). just people working with big mixes was a challenge; our ears burned fast. Most bands don't even mix their own record: it gets done for them. That sounds lovely and easy but I am a control freak – it’s easier to let me be there in the long run. I learned that you can never predict how a track might evolve and I learned to slow down a little, take my time but, overall, I enjoyed it and I want to get back in there.
The song is featured on the FIFA '18. How did that opportunity come about and is it an important honour?
You would have to ask my publishing company exactly how that came about...
I just get to hear the good news. It’s a big honour: I am the only Irish artist on it; it’s a World Cup FIFA, which is huge - it makes me the first person to introduce the Irish language to mainstream video-gaming. Making history…that’s a huge honour.
The soundtrack is stacked, too: the standard is great.
It is the first time a Gaeilge-sung song has been used in a video game. Is it important you retain Gaeilge roots and include it in your music?
Yeah, it is. Gaeilge is seen as a dying language in our country - maybe 20,000 speakers. Now, FIFA will bring a small piece to over 80-million people. The Irish government couldn't achieve that if they wanted to. You will have kids all over Ireland seeing Irish being used on a game they are obsessed with - and, hopefully, that will influence them to use the language more. Sometimes, I don't use Gaeilge. It’s not a personal crusade: I mean I will do it if I feel like it.
With Miol Mor Mara, the words felt important to me before I ever wrote the song, ya know. The first time was with Young Gods of Na Sionna. I will probably write whole songs in Gaeilge. It’s hard to explain, actually…good question. Super Furry Animals had that album in Welsh (Mwng). That was cool.
I of don’t know why I am doing it but that’s how I operate lately: I don't question my lyrics.
Being based in Ireland; you must see a lot of talent around you. What is the scene like where you are? Do you think Ireland is a part of the world that gets overlooked in terms of music?
I think Ireland can get overlooked sometimes, but not right now.
Right now, there are eyes on Ireland because of the amount of successful bands here - Hozier going global changed that. No-one saw that coming. Check out Wyvern Lingo’s I Love You, Sadie - they (the band) are Irish girls. But yeah, Girlband, James Vincent McMorrow; All Tvvins, to name a few, are building fanbases I love Pleasure Beach, too. It’s a diverse scene, though. The styles are insanely different - which I like.
No-one seems to be doing the same style, really.
You are signed to Warner Music and released Míol Mór Mara through W Songs. Do the labels give you a lot of freedom and what is it like being under the Warner Music banner?
I have total freedom: in fact, some people in Ireland told me not to use Gaeilge as it wouldn’t get radio play - whereas the people at Warner love it and really encouraged it. I think that decision speaks for itself when it ends up a globally-respected soundtrack. This is a business; you can talk all the sh*t you want about art - but good guitar-music does not record cheap and you won’t sustain for long if you are under the illusion it does. That’s why guitar music is middle-class-dominated right now. They are the only ones that can afford it - unless a label helps you. I am working-class, so I am very fortunate to have the support I do. The original punks had better gear and studios than most bands now.
You can believe the myth or face the truth.
It seems poetry and the beauty of language is important to you. Was music or poetry big in your early life? How crucial is language and how you convey it to your music?
Yes, I love poetry...
I started with lyrics and then learned guitar. The lyrics are unbelievably important to me. You will hear references to James Joyce etc. on the new E.P. The next E.P. has references to Wallace Stevens, Philip Larkin; Lord Byron, William Butler Yeats. I love the Pixies’ lyrics. The way they combine Spanish and English; making up words. It’s cool.
Expect that from me.
Many have compared you with great artists like Bruce Springsteen and War on Drugs. Are these artists you gravitate towards?
Yeah, I do.
People are always gonna hear something they know. But to be honest, when I was a kid, I liked my dad’s traditional Irish music taste: The Chieftains, The Dubliners. In my teens, I loved Punk music and Post- Punk. I was never a Springsteen fanatic but I always sang like him a bit and, two years ago, I got this flashback of when I was five and my Auntie would have me and my brother dancing around the room to Dancing in the Dark. That kinda stuff gets internalised in your core. She was complaining that Springsteen had changed his image and everyone was against him now. I love Springsteen but forgot that I did for a long time.
The War on Drugs are great. They are really in their prime. If ya listen to Wagon Wheel now - where he sounded exactly like Dylan - to (new songs) now where he has his own dream-like world created…it’s a cool journey.
They were able to evolve.
Is there going to be more material in months to come? Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yeah, expect a new E.P. in 2018 - I am working on a new batch of songs, alright.
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
IN THIS PHOTO: Wyvern Lingo
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
It taught me Punk could be ethereal. I think I sing like Jim Reid but people say, like Springsteen, the melody for Míol Mór Mara is in the same register as Upside Down.
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
It taught me that someday, with enough time and money, you can make music devastatingly beautiful and to aim for that.
The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
It’s why I play bass and whisper on songs.
What tour dates do you have coming up? Where can we see you play?
I had to cancel one last week because of this chest infection. Keep an eye on my social media, it will all be there.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
The best art takes time and the best guitar music takes a hell of a lot of time. That has been proven over and over.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here
Wyvern Lingo - I Love You, Sadie