Clodagh Lawlor, 22, from Newmarket on Fergus, County Clare made was a contestant on The Voice of Ireland a couple of years ago and is now one of Ireland’s newest, up-and-coming country music performers.
Despite her relative youth she has been singing for a few years now and made her presence known on the market with her version of Maren Morris’s track My Church.
She has just landed her own country music show on Keep It Country TV and has also just returned from Nashville, Tennessee, where she was writing songs for her new EP.
The Irish World: How did you start?
I had been singing for years but at the age of 17 I thought I would do something about it so the first opportunity I had was on the streets, I started busking, at first in Limerick then in Galway and I tried Dublin a couple of times.
I had music on tracks and I would sing covers of Adele or Carey Underwood and some country stuff as well as a lot of things people would know.
I built up a bit of a following, and I was able to make it my full-time job.
It is the best way to get out there as an artiste as you are in front of the people and your name is out there and then there are people talking about you on social media. I play guitar and piano, I taught myself, but I have not got the courage yet to get up and perform them in public when I am with my band.
It is one of the things on my New Year’s resolution list to play the guitar or piano live with the band.
IW: Why did you choose country music?
Country music for me has been there since a very, very young age – I was about eight years of age when there was the first indication that this was the genre I was going to be obsessed with for the rest of my life.
I remember watching American Idol and The Voice, all those shows, I was obsessed with America.
Carrie Underwood won American Idol and brought out an album Wasted (which) I remember getting my friends in America to buy for me and to send it over.
That was the first album I bought for myself, at eight years of age, and from there I just fell in love with the genre. It is such a special and unique way of portraying music.
IW: Do you write your own songs now?
Yes, I just came back from Nashville about three weeks ago, I was over there filming with Keep It Country TV as I have my own programme coming out with them and I was out there working with songwriters and we wrote two songs there.
I already had two we had done before, so hopefully with the two of them together we will have a CD at the end of it and it will be Country Music and it will be my own representation of the genre as it all original stuff.
IW: Do you have your own band now?
Yes, we have just started in the last couple of weeks and we are practising so much to get a set together, to feel the vibe between all our band members, and to get our sound together.
When we have the finished product my single, Be Right Here will be coming out followed by a video. So with that all done, hopefully, it will be the start of a journey that I have wanted for so long.
IW: Is it harder these days with record companies now being so different to what they were?
Completely. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are how artists now get known, new artists are steering away from the huge record companies because there is such an opportunity out there and you can manipulate social media so much for yourself with your music on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.
It is so, so hard to expose yourself as a unique artiste as there are so many people everyday uploading kind of the same content, so it is hard as an artist to get highlighted more than them.
All the record labels now are looking for originality, so to stand out from another person and is hard when we are all in the same genre and going down the same route.
I’m a college student as well and I study Music Business and we were doing that Spotify streaming conversation the other day – for something like 200,000 streams you only make about €20 Euro.
So (these days) you’d want to be making money from merchandise and ticket sales more than records.
It is great in a way that there is a place where you can stream free music and people can listen to you to get to know you and it is great for new artists to get out there and it is easier now with these platforms for artists to get known – but in relation to making a living from music sales it is harder, so you need to have a tour or merchandise that will sell.
Do you think Country Music is cool?
I’m 22 years of age and I think there are a lot of young people who are giving Country Music a chance and I am very fortunate enough to have a group of friends that really enjoy Country Music and respect it for what it is.
Every weekend we go to a dance, last week we were at Johnny Brady, who plays it in a young, kind of Rock-y way, and the weekend before that we were at Lisa McHugh. If people who are my age just go to a dance and give it a chance, they’ll see how much fun they are.
The music is great. It gets you on your feet dancing and you come out of there just happy.
Young people are starting to listen to country music more than they did in the past. More than anything and it is more popular definitely with people my age than it was in the past.
What are your immediate plans?
To get the TV show going in December and I’m just after mastering my single which we’ll be putting out there with the video and see how that goes.
I am also starting off my own Clodagh Lawlor Songwriter Nights around Limerick and Clare.
We have one at the Red Hen Bar in Limerick and there will be some really good acts joining me on that night, Ben Troy, an amazing songwriter called Ruthanne, who has written for Niall Horan, Britney Spears and One Direction.
Each performs their own music and it goes around in turn after each sings their first song and the next comes on then it goes back to the top for their second song.
They’re to generate and encourage new artists in Ireland, there are not as many outlets for them here in Munster as there might be somewhere like Dublin and I want to generate more interest in Country music in Limerick.