It’s 1997. There’s a nip in the air and a soft breeze rustles the leaves of the flower pots that hang from street lights, yet it’s not too windy. The sky is threatening rain but so far there hasn’t been a drop all day. Seven-year-old Sorcha Richardson walks down the street, with an undeniable spring in her step, on her way to her grandparents’ house from school. She loves them, there is no question, but her sights are set on something very specific. Only the coolest thing ever: her grandfather’s old keyboard. She has been waiting all day for this.
Even as a child, Richardson used music as a form of connection and intimacy. The highlight of her day was going to her grandparents’ house after school and playing her grandfather’s keyboard. Explaining the scenario, Richardson laughs, feeling as though she must have been pretty annoying, spending her entire visits messing around with the keys. Later on Richardson would learn to play the guitar and drums, but the love started with that old keyboard.
Fast forward eleven years into the future and Richardson is trying her hand at the Big Apple and a foreign education in creative writing. Surrounded by musicians from different backgrounds, Richardson was introduced to new ideas and perspectives. She expresses a love of New York City’s anonymity — a feeling that, surrounded by tall buildings and blinding city lights, she could challenge herself to attend open mics; to experience the crowds while also being able to quickly disappear into the night. As her following grew, Richardson notes how supportive the Irish community was. However freeing the vastness of New York City was, she loved that sense of connection, especially the boost she received from Irish Radios while thousands of miles from home. It is no surprise then that Richardson moved back home, immersing herself in the Irish music scene which she discloses has never felt more exciting.
“Perhaps it is these strong connections, from her childhood in Dalkey to her time spent in New York City, that allows Richardson to remain grounded.”
Perhaps it is these strong connections, from her childhood in Dalkey to her time spent in New York City, that allows Richardson to remain grounded. Throughout these diverse experiences of studying abroad and rising fame, Richardson remains true to herself and her music. The singer indicates her hope that each song connects to the listener. Channelling her creative writing education, she writes her music in a way that conveys a narrative, building short stories through the lyrics. She explains how important it is that she pays attention to her influences, including some of her favourite artists like The Beatles, but she never tries to replicate them. Mostly, she tries to make music that she wants to listen to.
“It is specific to a young audience, who is experiencing the turmoil and roller coaster of emotions that comes with growing up.”
From listening on Spotify, Richardson’s unique voice shines through in her music. The Irish Times glowingly describes her newly released song Archie as “nailing all the infectious enthusiasm of youthful creativity and the naive innocence it comes wrapped up in.” Richardson’s individual experiences mould her music into something genuinely raw and passionate. It is specific to a young audience, who are experiencing the turmoil and roller coaster of emotions that comes with growing up.
Richardson is set to start her tour of her newly released album, Smiling Like an Idiot, on October 20 at the 3Olympia Theatre in Dublin. Selling out this hometown venue and playing her favourite childhood stadium holds a special place in her heart. The songs, she expresses, were written to be played live, whether that be a solo gig in a cafe with just her and her acoustic guitar or in a large stadium backed by her band, feeling the welcoming energy of thousands of fans. Her love of performing in front of a crowd is evident as she describes the travelling circus that is touring. Less than twenty-four hours in each city with at least nine hours getting ready in the venue and a couple hours of wandering around each new place in the lull of crazinessness; life on tour is non-stop.
“For inspiration to hit, Richardson prefers a setting a little closer to home. Patience is key.”
As much as Richardson is fond of touring her music, she admits that writing new material is almost impossible. For inspiration to hit, Richardson prefers a setting a little closer to home. Patience is key. She explains that simply forcing herself to go through the motions of songwriting doesn’t work. She needs to feel compelled to tell a story. This comes when everything slows down for a minute and Richardson is able to catch her breath. Amidst this calm, maybe on a getaway to Kerry, free from the constraints and business of her normal day to day life in Dublin, Richardson finds she produces her best work.
“From Dalkey to New York and back again, her singularly beautiful, yet powerful, voice expresses a confusion of emotions that just makes sense.”
With almost 300,000 followers on Spotify, a debut album that was nominated for the RTÉ Choice Music Prize for Irish album of the year and a promising second album just released, Sorcha Richardson is on the rise. From Dalkey to New York and back again, her singularly beautiful, yet powerful, voice expresses a confusion of emotions that just makes sense. There is no question that Sorcha Richardson is a name to look out for in the bustling Irish music scene.