Award-winning Derry songwriter and performer ROE (21-year-old Roisin Donald) today releases her second EP ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’. To celebrate her newest release, ROE will be performing a very special online show from the iconic Guildhall venue in Derry, live-streaming a full set with a full production of lights, live drummer, sound and an HD multi-camera setup. Mark Millar caught up with ROE to talk about the new EP, the Guildhall show and more.
Hi Roe, how have you been coping during all the lockdown madness?
I’ve had good days and bad days, it’s been really nice just spending time with my family and not having to travel for a while but now I just can’t wait to get back gigging again!
How have you found lockdown as a songwriter? Are you feeling inspired at the moment?
I’ve been listening to loads of music and reading more books lately which has been really inspiring for my own writing, I’ve had time to sit at a piano and not worry about having to do anything else except write. Sometimes it feels like hitting your head against a wall because of writer’s block but other times it’s been absolute magic. I feel more inspired now that I can go out and experience being outside the house again.
You release ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ EP on Friday 21st August. When it came to writing this EP, did you have an idea in mind about how you wanted it to sound and the kind of songs you wanted to write about?
This EP came about pretty naturally. Writing is a huge mental outlet for me and so when it came to these songs I was completely honest and open with myself about the issues I was facing in my own life. I’m 21 and still searching for my sound so I think these tracks represent the journey I’m on right now in pursuit of what feels like me.
What is the idea behind the EP title ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’?
I struggle to speak about my own issues a lot and so writing is my way of communicating how I feel. These songs deal with topics like anxiety, disappointment and body image and these are all subjects that don’t get spoken about as much as they should, hence the name of the EP.
Did it end up going the way you expected or did any of the tracks take their own path?
‘Marco’ is completely different from anything I’ve ever written and definitely just created a life of its own, it even sounds so wild compared to the rest of the songs but they all felt right to put together as a collection and I’m really proud of how it turned out.
One of the EP tracks ‘Room to Breathe’ has had over 300k streams in just 2 months. How does that feel?
It’s unbelievably cool! To know that thousands of people have listened to a song that I wrote is such a surreal feeling.
‘Room to Breathe’ will also be available on limited edition 10” Vinyl. In the age of streaming do you think it is still important to put music out in a physical format?
Definitely, I love a good vinyl and I was so excited to finally release some of my own music through that platform. I think that physical copies of music are more important than ever, it’s something you can cherish and always have and it’s also one of the best ways to support artists.
Which track from the EP do you feel most connected to and why?
‘Room to Breathe’ will always hold a special place in my heart because it was really difficult to come to terms with how overwhelmed I was when I wrote it. It wasn’t until the words were down on the page that I realised how I felt.
To celebrate the release of the EP you will be performing a very special online show from the iconic Guildhall venue in Derry. Are you excited and what can we expect from the show?
I’m buzzing to play somewhere that’s not my living room! And especially because it’s in the Guildhall which is such a historical and beautiful building. I’ve got a super cool new light show planned and I’ll be playing with my drummer Jay Dickson, everything will be filmed in full HD and my special guest Reevah is incredible so I can’t wait for it.
What goes through your head when you step on stage to perform?
I always get nerves before every show, but when I get on stage it’s all about having fun and connecting with an audience. I love performing and every show is different so when I’m up on stage I’m forever reminded that these people could be anywhere else right now but they’re right here listening to me play MY music, and that’s just a ridiculously lovely feeling.
There have been amazing acts coming from Derry in the last few years such as yourself, the Wood Burning Savages, Touts and Soak. Is there something in the water up there?
Derry has really come into its own, there is so much talent and we have a great sense of community here in the music scene so I‘m really proud to be a part of it.
Do you think there is a healthy music scene in Northern Ireland now?
There is so much unbelievable talent here and I think that the NI music community is really supportive of each other. There are bands like Cherym and New Pagans and artists like Reevah that are absolutely killing it right now. I think NI is making a great name for its self in terms of our wonderful music scene and it will continue to thrive.
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend to our readers?
Phoebe Bridgers’s new album Punisher has been on repeat and I’ve also been listening to loads of girl in red and Margaret Glaspy. I’ve been loving the ‘Happy Place’ podcast with Fearne Cotton and ‘I Weigh’ with Jameela Jamil, they’re so great for chilling out to.
Listen to ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’ EP – BELOW: