Irish pop artist LAOISE returns with her eagerly anticipated new EP, ‘Mad’. Incorporating elements of synth and alternative pop, these four songs co-written and co-produced by Seán Behan and Richey McCourt, embody everything LAOISE’s audience have come to love and more. Featuring the critically acclaimed single ‘Again’, the four-track EP is her most honest and sincere work yet, making it an ambitious next step for LAOISE. Mark Millar caught up with LAOISE to talk about the EP and her musical ideas.
How did you get started in music?
Laoise: I’ve always been obsessed with music, I grew up playing a handful of instruments, and it was singing and songwriting that I really noticed myself thinking about all the time as a teenager. I guess once I moved from my hometown Galway to Dublin to study songwriting that I decided to take it more seriously, and I released my debut single in 2016, since then, thinking about music all the time has felt like a dream because I can catch myself thinking sometimes ‘is this what my life is now?’. It’s so cool.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
Laoise: I mostly listened to artists who had a story to tell, like Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush and Taylor Swift. I’m also a massive fan of anything producer and songwriter Max Martin does ha! I’m a big lover of pop music, its structure and climatic pay-off makes sense to me because you can say whatever you want in your songs, and the structure will guide a listener through that story you’re trying to tell.
You recently released your new four track EP, ‘Mad’. Did you go into the recording with any preconceived ideas how it should sound and the kind of songs you wanted to write about?
Laoise: Sort of. With the song ‘Mad’, I had no idea where it was going at first - it went through a lot of changes so it took me about a year to finish it, which is the longest I’ve ever spent working on a song without hating it. But I’m glad I took that time because it meant when I started writing ‘I Mean…’ and ‘Seriously?’, I felt I knew how to steer where my music was going, and it sort of matched how I was feeling personally - more assured, and less interested in wondering what other people had to say about me. One thing I did want to incorporate into the EP is that there’s a different emotion (anger, determination, heartbreak, infatuation) in each song that someone could relate to, but that each song makes you want to move and let your body do the talking for once. I feel like this EP embodies exactly where I am in my life right now.
Who produced the EP?
Laoise: I co-produced it with Séan Behan and Richey McCourt which was so much fun. All we did was laugh the whole time, I’m surprised we finished it! I love working with others because one person’s idea could spark the next ten for me, and vice versa. Plus if you feel like screaming into a mic and others encourage you, it’s not as awkward as screaming on your own ha!
What was your song writing process for the EP?
Laoise: A little varied really! Some ideas came when I was falling asleep, and I’d end up recording some lazy, sleepy voice notes into my phone in case I forgot. Some took a lot of chipping away, like ‘Mad’, where a new idea would come every two weeks and it felt like it’d never get finished. But mostly, it consisted of writing about things that I felt too scared to talk about in the past, and I didn’t realise how much closure I’d have from writing about them. ‘I Mean…’ for instance, we wrote in about half a day, because all the melodies and lyrics just came pouring out of me, almost like a word vomit (aye for Mean Girls references!).
You will be taking your new music to a number of 2019 festivals including Lollapalooza Berlin, Body & Soul (Main Stage) and Indiependence - are you looking forward to the shows?
Laoise: YES! I cannot wait. We’ve been working on the live set over the winter, and I love love love performing live so I’m itching to get back on to the stage. I just love seeing people react to certain parts in my songs that I never thought people would pay attention to. So I’m excited to see the reaction to these new songs!
Do you think there is a healthy music scene in Ireland at the moment?
Laoise: Definitely. As an independent artist at the moment, like many others here, there’s a strong sense of community and support. There’s such a wide range of genres, it’s really nice to see the influence of different cultures in all of it. I guess because of the internet and new technologies, this new generation of musicians feel they can do or be whatever they want to be, and it’s really exciting to be in the midst of all of that happening.
How do you find being a young artist in today’s music climate?
Laoise: Honestly, quite relieved. There are more artists breaking the stereotype of what it means to be a female pop artist today especially. Take Billie Eilish, who’s only 17, and knows herself and her work so well - no one has forced her into changing her mind or doing what she doesn’t want to and you can see why so many people love her - it’s refreshing! For me, I’ve always been a little worried about bending the rules, but when most people are throwing the rules out the window, it’s like ‘okay COOL what can I do now?’
What are you most grateful for about being able to be a musician every day?
Laoise: That I get to create actual songs or visuals that are in my brain, make them, and see people respond to them. When I was younger, I used to lie awake at night all the time wondering what it would be like to have to confidence or infrastructure to do that, and now that it’s happening and it’s on my terms, I couldn’t be more grateful, and proud of myself too.
Out of all the music in your collection who do you have the most albums by?
Laoise: No surprise - Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks ha. I’m just obsessed ok?
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend?
Laoise: Khalid’s new album! Especially the song with John Mayer, it’s addictive. Also Lennon Stella, Ashe, Orla Gartland and Allie X.
What does the rest of 2019 hold for you?
Laoise: I’m in the studio a lot next month, which I can’t wait for. And then I’m off to play some amazing festivals - the dream. Festival season is like Christmas for me, my pale Irish skin doesn’t know how to cope with the sun!
LISTEN TO THE ‘MAD’ EP BELOW: