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Going it alone

Robert John Ardiff tells David Hennessy how he’s looking forward to getting over to London, how he recorded an album  after his baby’s bedtime and why it was so surreal to see Anne Hathaway crying into her breakfast.

“Can’t wait, it’s gonna be great,” Robert John Ardiff tells The Irish World about his upcoming trip to Kilburn. “London’s great. I love London.”

Known for being part of the Choice Music Prize nominees Come On Live Long, Robert released his critically acclaimed solo debut album Between the Bed and Room in 2018 with his sophomore collection due to land later this year.

Robert has also been writing for television since John Carney (formerly of The Frames and director of films such as Once and Sing Street) asked him to write some songs for Amazon Prime’s Modern Love which stars Anne Hathaway, Tina Fey, Andy Garcia and more.

“John Carney got in touch with me and he had heard my music and asked me to write some songs for the show so initially he sent me a load of scripts and then I wrote songs in response to the scripts. Then he ended up choosing one of those songs and then he took two off Between the Bed and Room. One of those tracks, People Talking, is actually going to be on the soundtrack which is out on 14 February.”

Is it surreal to hear his music on such a star-studded show? “Big time, there was a scene with Anne Hathaway crying into a bowl of porridge and then one of my songs came on. That was weird.”

From Summerhill in Meath, Robert has just released a new single called Evie. Does this mean that a new album is also not so far off? “I’m currently making the second album so that will be out in September. I’ve recorded half of it and I’m going into the studio in March to finish it off. The way I kind of work is I just record them and mix them very quickly and get it all out fairly snappy. I’m not one for really hanging around with these things.

“I recorded the song Evie in New York. We were over doing a few shows in New York on the back of Modern Love. We went in there for a day and recorded two tracks which was brilliant. When you go into a good studio you can get work done really quickly but when you’re doing stuff at home in your bedroom, everything takes a little bit longer.”

And this was exactly how his first album came about as Robert was still new to fatherhood so playing music had to be balanced with parenting duties.

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“That’s where the name for the album comes from. I recorded the first album in a box room in my house. Myself and Louise, my partner, would put Alice down to bed and then I’d run up to the room and maybe record for two hours. I did that consistently for six months and then at the end of it, I had an album.

Anne Hathaway in Modern Love.

“A friend of mine kind of said to me, ‘If you write a page of a book every day, at the end of the year you’ll have a book’. I kind of said, ‘If I put in a couple of hours every day in six months or so I’ll have a record together’, and that’s kind of what happened.

“I was doing everything on my own so I would record the guitar, the drums, the bass, the piano, the vocals, I would do everything myself and then mix it myself as well and then I’d get another friend to help with certain bits in the mixing process.

“This album I’ve got a band who are called The Catholic Guilt behind me so they’re coming over to London as well. The sound is a lot bigger. It’s a good progression. It needed to happen. I couldn’t be sitting up in my bedroom all day trying to make songs.”

The show has been so good for Robert that people all over the world have developed a taste for his music and the track has been streamed over 1½  million times.

“I’m getting emails from lads in India saying they heard my track, ‘When are you coming to India?’ I’m like, ‘I’d love to go, one day’.”

This is great but he still loves to grow his audience by getting out there and playing: “We often go to this place called Callan in Kilkenny. There’s a small little cafe there called Fennelly’s. The first time we went, we were playing to 20 people and then you go back again and there’s 100 there and you go, ‘Okay, what’s happening here?’ Once you keep returning to places, people start coming to see you.

“People sometimes get lost in the social media end of things. They think, ‘I’m promoting it on my instagram, I’m promoting it on my Facebook’. You have to get out there and play. You have to stick up the posters and you have to play to actual real people that you can see in front of you blinking and breathing.”

Robert John Ardiff plays The Fiddler in Kilburn on Thurday 13 February.

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