A chat with songwriter Molly Sterling
Described by Nialler9 as "One of the most poignant songwriters in the country", we’re thrilled to have Molly Sterling perform at the launch of the First Fortnight Europe programme this Thursday, 22nd November.
Molly has been involved in the festival for years and is one of our biggest advocates. Michelle O’Connor talked to Molly about her involvement in First Fortnight.
Q: You've been involved in the festival for a number of years, how did that come about?
I think there are some opportunities that just come to you at the right time.
I remember seeing a piece of street art by the incredible ADW that had two hands clinging on to a bar with the words ‘Hold Fast’ written across the knuckles. That was one of a few pieces that ADW did for First Fortnight, but it stuck with me and led me to find out more about the festival.
When I did, I thought FF sounded like the dream combination: a festival challenging mental health stigma through creative arts! I wrote a really excited message asking if I could perform at the festival, but I hadn’t released any music or played any gigs at that stage. So then, I got the opportunity to volunteer and jumped at it!
Q: What is your favourite thing about the festival?
Definitely the variety in the lineup; the programme is so refreshing. There is something for everyone to get involved in: sports, dance, theatre, film, activities, music, talks.
I’d also have to say the team who founded First Fortnight are my modern day superheroes and absolute idols! You can tell that they care so deeply about every little tiny part of the festival. They’ve got to be a favourite.
Q: In what way has the festival impacted your life?
When I first discovered the festival, my family had recently gone through the experience of losing a loved one to suicide. Following that and other traumatic events, I wasn’t talking to anyone about the deterioration of my own mental health.
Writing music was the only medium I had to express what was going on in my head, but I didn’t value it. I would feel like a scrambled mess, write a song, and then the song would help me to identify how I was feeling.
I’ve always been able to rely on music, and from the first volunteer meetup, it was clear that the FF team valued that medium as a way of maintaining a healthy mind. It was powerful to be in a room full of people who felt as passionately as I did that expression has the ability to save lives, to talk about what it means to you, and hear other people’s stories.
The festival gave me the confidence to embrace the scary things I’ve been through on my mental health journey, but it also gave me friends who have supported me throughout, and who I will have forever.
When you leave a First Fortnight event, you’ll leave knowing that you’re not alone in your struggle and with a better understanding of, and deeper empathy for, someone else’s struggle.
Q: How do you find the art and music scene in Ireland as a whole?
Bleedin’ thriving! The standard of Irish art has skyrocketed over the last while. It’s a beautiful thing to see Irish names breaking boundaries, regardless of what genre they exist in.
I definitely think Irish art has gotten bolder and more brazen recently. You don’t have to look too far to experience something brutally honest and vulnerable, or to find an inspiring peer. There’s more of a sense of freedom than there ever was before and I’m really excited to be involved in whatever shift is happening at the moment.
Molly spent summer performing all over Ireland, and her music is immensely raw and emotional. Check out her work on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5XUqgFooJpMOg8CaWml0q3 or follow her on Facebook.