Interviews

In Conversation with…SORCHA RICHARDSON

Sincerity in pop music is a rare and precious gem in today’s popular music landscape. I first became aware of the boundless talent of Dublin born, New York based singer-songwriter Sorcha Richardson when our editor here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies sent me her song “Petrol Station” upon its release. I was immediately taken by it, overwhelmed with a nostalgia for a time that was both incredibly familiar, yet not of my own experience. I listened to that song for hours on loop that day, and then for months on end, sending it to anybody that I thought would appreciate it as much as I did. So when I heard Sorcha’s latest release (the first in a series of new songs to be released over the next half year), I was excited to say the least.

The project promises a release every three weeks for the next sixth months. The first offering “Walk Away” deals with the complicated relationship between love and circumstance, a relatable theme dealt with in a poetic, refined and mature manner. Sharp and elegant lyricism cuts across a beautifully produced stripped back soundscape. Sorcha answered a few questions for us to begin an ongoing series of short Q&A’s, as we join her on this exciting journey forward.

H: If you were a cake, what kind of cake are you and why?

SR: Being a cake would be the worst. You go to one party, have to hide in the kitchen for most of it, and then you just get cut up into pieces. It honestly sounds terrible. I guess I’d be Red Velvet just cause at least I’d look good in photos.

The project you are working on at the moment involves a very generous offering of new releases every three weeks over the next sixth months, the first being “Walk Away” which was played on BBC radio by Huw Stevens…it’s a beautiful song full of a premeditated sense of mourning. Could you tell me a little bit about why you chose “Walk Away” as the first instalment?

When I wrote this song I had just decided to scrap an EP and start again. I wasn’t totally sure what direction I wanted to take my music. I was writing some stuff I wasn’t that excited about but when I wrote Walk Away it kind of opened the floodgates and gave me a much more solid idea about where I wanted to go with my music.

When you began recording these songs did you have in your head exactly how you wanted it to sound?

Kind of. But sometimes it can be a case of doing the thing that’s in your head and hearing it back and realizing that it’s doesn’t sound how you thought it would. So it was a combination of trying to capture an idea in my head but also leaving a lot of room open for discovery in the studio.

The production on “Walk Away” is incredibly elegant, stripped back in all the right places and in the height of the emotional landscape catapulting the listener into the story. Who was involved in the making of the release and what stamp did they leave on it?

I made a demo in my bedroom with just bass, guitar and vocals and then finished it with my friend Eben D’amico at his studio in Brooklyn. We just sat together and wrote some of those synth lines and drum parts until we felt like the track was complete. I think the first thing Eben did was lay down those weird ghostly synths in the second verse (which I love) that just felt perfect for the mood of the track.

It’s always seemed to me that collaboration is one of the most important ingredients to growth, both artistically and commercially. You are an artist that has collaborated with a dynamic variety of artists across different genres and mediums and achieve an effortless transition across the spectrum. What is your relationship with the collaborative process and how has it effected you as an artist?

It’s incredible. I always feel like I learn the most by working with someone else. It’s so easy to get stuck in the same patterns of writing and making music, and working with someone else forces you to break your routine.

I worked a lot with Alex Casnoff from Harriet on some of these new songs. There were some songs I had written that were so familiar to me but Alex would send me a version where he had tweaked the melody or rearranged the structure and it always just opened the song up so much to the point where it felt like I was hearing it for the first time again.

I first heard your music when our editor sent me ‘Petrol Station’ around the time of its release, knowing that it would be right down my alley. I fell in love with it instantaneously and listened to it for hours and hours. It reminded me of the first time I heard “Bruises” by Chairlift. These new tracks both invoke those same feelings of nostalgia and have the same infectious nature. Lyrically they seem to be more refined, and in the best way rooted in a pop sensibility…how do you feel like your lyricism has evolved since your first record?

I used to write in a way that was a lot more cryptic and ambiguous, mainly because I was trying to disguise the thing or person I was writing about. But these songs aren’t really like that. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just stopped caring about how uncomfortable it would be to sing the songs in front of the person they were about. So the writing on this is a lot more direct than anything I’ve done before.

Your bedroom seems to be a big part of your process and has been the place where you do a lot of your creating, did you record there at all for the project?

I spend so much time in my bedroom writing and making music. Almost all of my songs start out as ideas that I have sitting by my bedroom window. I record all my demos there. I write a lot at night when the whole world is asleep, and I think that regardless of how the song changes when I bring it to the studio, it always retains some level of intimacy as a result of that.

Who is your favourite spice girl?

Maybe Mel C but it changes often.

Who are five up and coming artists who you think we should be paying more attention to?

Conner Youngblood 
Otherkin 
Le Boom 
Morly
Big Thief 

Sorcha’s new single ‘Walk Away’ is out now on Swim Out. Get your copy on iTunes here.

To keep up-to-date with Sorcha Richardson, follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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