#FiveOnFriday with Ailbhe Reddy

Five on Friday
access_time 10 minutes
person by Cian Doherty
create 30 October 2020

Dublin singer-songwriter Ailbhe Reddy released her excellent debut, Personal History, this month. The album’s mix of folk-with-indie-rock combines with lyrics detailing the trials and tribulations of relationships, modern life and growing up. It received high praise from the likes of Pitchfork, BBC Radio 6 and Hot Press, while the Irish Times ranked her as one of the top Irish music acts right now. Distrust, her first single from 2016, has been streamed more than 4 million times on Spotify. She is also a First Fortnight ‘alumnus', having played the Big Gig in 2018.


Ailbhe took time out of her busy schedule to talk to First Fortnight for our #FiveOnFriday feature.


1. You've had tours canceled and gigs pushed back due to a certain pandemic. How much are you missing being able to play proper live gigs at the moment?

I'm reeeeeeally missing it.  I hadn't done any touring for a good while before lockdown because I had been recording my album so when it all kicked off I was just about to head to SXSW in Austin, Texas.  Total bummer! That was going to lead into a summer full of festivals and then a tour of North America with Paul Weller in Autumn.  So, I am really disappointed none of that has gone ahead.  Hopefully 2021/2022 will show some improvement, it's certainly an odd time but we just have to hold out hope and roll with the punches. 



2. There seems to be incredibly rich and diverse music being created in Ireland at the moment: from acts like Lankum, Girl Band, Fontaines DC, Pillow Queens; singer songwriters like yourself, Sorcha Richardson and others; to hip hop like Denise Chaila and Godknows. What do you think this could be put down to? Or is it just something in the water!?


I think that due to the international success of a few Irish acts over the years, there's a real interest in Irish music again.  There was never any less talent out there, but the industry is really developing and there is a lot more in place now to help propel artists forward, which there might not have been ten years ago or so. 



3.You took a year out of music to study psychotherapy. How did that inform your songwriting process?


I have a general interest in how people tick, how people relate to others, why we act and feel the way we do.  I think that interest is central to songwriting so they naturally go together for me.  If you are really invested in something I think it becomes kind of embedded in how you speak anyway, so it naturally became part of how I wrote lyrics.  If you're really into boxing or something you might use phrases in your writing that echo that, same goes for anything really! 



4. Ireland has just entered level 5 restrictions which can be tough for people in a lot of ways.  There's a lyric on your album of trying to 'take care of my own head'. What kind of tips would you use to keep your mood ticking over at the moment?


It's tricky enough, but I try to just give myself the space to do what I need from day to day.  If I'm feeling super lazy one day, I go with that and don't beat myself up over it.  If I feel productive another day, that's great.  I try to get out for walks, as we are going through a very nice Autumn period at the moment too, which always boosts one's mood. 



5. Can you tell us 3 tracks you use as a musical comfort blanket, for when you're feeling a bit blue?


Annie's Song by John Denver, Mythological Beauty from Big Thief and Love Fool - The Cardigans 


Annie's Song - John Denver


Mythological Beauty - Big Thief


Love Fool - The Cardigans




Personal History is out now. Ailbhe’s rearranged gigs from the Workmans Club this autumn now take place in the Button Factory on May 15th 2021.There should still be some tickets available, if you’re quick!

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