FEATURE: ORLA GARTLAND
Updated: Mar 22, 2019
This article was first published on the March issue of LDN Magazine.
During rare time off in the middle of tour support for dodie, Irish singer and songwriter Orla Gartland snatched a chat with Maria Galea about her musical beginnings, songwriting and her upcoming headline tour.
Orla’s introduction to music was in a music shop in Ireland, where her parents took her to choose an instrument. Her choice was a violin. Later on, she started learning the guitar, an instrument you never see her without on stage.
The budding artist began writing songs aged 14 but couldn’t play gigs as all open-mic nights in Dublin were for over-18s. Faced with that restriction, Orla turned to a different platform to perform her work: YouTube. She notes how good it felt in those days that despite the low production value, there was no pressure. “I have no idea where this insufferable confidence came from,” she says. “It definitely wasn’t rooted in anything good at the time. I just desperately wanted to show these songs to someone.”
Eventually Orla was contacted by an industry executive about management. “I wasn’t touring with people or anything,” she reveals, “it gave me permission to take it more seriously.” After school, she decided to take a gap year to pursue music. “I’m on my fifth gap year,” she jokes. It has clearly
worked out to be a wise choice.
After moving to London, the Irish artist started to write with friends - her publishing deal encouraging her to write songs not only for herself, but for other people too - something she welcomes, accepting that “the more you hone in on your sound, the more limited it becomes creatively.”
Writing for other people helps alleviate that issue and has taught her new techniques to use for her own songwriting methods - to which she references her experience co-writing BTS song ‘134340’ (which made the cut on their smash album, Love Yourself: Tear) as “a really cool thing to be involved in.” This has given her more faith in the songwriting processes and more confidence, which can definitely be heard in her newer songs. I ask for the craziest collaboration of her dreams, to which she laughs and says, “Post Malone, that would be interesting!”
she’s keen to point out it’s still “mega pop”.rt it off with an intention. Her latest single, ‘Why Am I Like This?’, is her most mature but also self-reflective, which seems to be a vibe she’s enjoying - although she’s keen to point out it’s still “mega pop”.
For now, Orla is working with her new bandmates ahead of her headline UK and Ireland tour.
“For the first time, I feel really confident in my live show,” she beams. What can one expect? Well, performing without her guitar for one of her favourite songs, ‘Between My Teeth’; something she never does.
After a few years without a release, the past few months have been incredibly positive for Orla, promising an even brighter 2019. Best of all, she is grateful for her fans: “Making a living as an artist is not something everyone can do, I’m forever impressed with how fiercely loyal the people who follow me are.”
Single ‘Why Am I Like This?’ is out now. Orla’s tour stops at London’s Omeara on 17th and 18th April.