Singer-songwriter Lorraine Nash told David Hennessy about launching her singer-songwriter career during the first lockdown last year, her new music that addresses gender inequality in Irish music and signing to a label.
With the independent release of her debut EP Wildflower last year multi-instrumentalist Lorraine Nash quickly become one of the most played female artists on Irish radio.
However, it was with her follow up single Winter Sun that she really announced herself, with the track being a regular on the playlists of several national stations.
Her live-streamed set at Cork Opera House in December led to the Kerry singer-songwriter signing with FIFA Records with whom she has released the current track, Sing With Her, the first from her impending debut album.
The song went straight to the top of the RTÉ Radio 1 playlist which was apt as it was inspired by the #WhyNotHer movement and the revelations last year of gender inequality within the Irish music industry.
Lorraine told The Irish World: “It does mean a lot this song being played on the radio when the whole point of the song was about female artists not getting that radio play.
“The song was kind of inspired by that report. Seeing something like that visually was shocking. We all kind of knew that that’s how things were but I think hearing people talk about it kind of inspired me to write a song to contribute to the cause in my own way.”
That being said, Lorraine is grateful for the support she has had from Irish radio.
“I do think my radio journey started quite late in the game when this report was established so in general I think somehow I’ve been quite lucky. I think it was something that people had started to talk about more so I suppose maybe radio people were getting a little bit of pressure about it. I count my blessings.”
Still only 22 and yet to even finish her English degree at UCC, Lorraine was not expecting anything like the level success she has had in the last year.
“It’s mad. The first EP was just to test the waters and I kind of wanted to keep the ball rolling then once I had a bit of momentum and that’s why I released that song at Christmas.”
Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic may not have been the ideal time to kickstart her career but it has seen Lorraine go from strength to strength using it to develop her home studio as well as recording in order to continue to release music.
“I think I definitely got a lot more recording and writing done than I would have if I was living in Cork and going to college. There was nothing else to do really, was there?
“I’m definitely happy with how things have gone considering the circumstances that they were in. I had been thinking of just delaying whatever I was going to do until things got more back to normal but that was when I was thinking that the whole thing was going to last a month or two. We’re sitting here a year later and it’s the same. I’m glad that I went ahead with it. I’m kind of glad I just went for it and carried on recording.
“Winter Sun wouldn’t have been done if I didn’t have the free time that I did and that was the first song that I had recorded from home as well remotely, the same way that this track is done.
“That first song was a good way of testing that and now we know that that’s something we can get a good product out of.
“You would definitely rather to be in the actual studio, that’s a different experience. It’s been great to actually be able to do something from home anyway.”
“I don’t think that this single or any of the other ones for the upcoming album would have been recorded if I didn’t have that time. Obviously, you miss live music massively and just normal life in general but I got something out of it.
“It’s brilliant to be able to plough on but I’m very excited to get back to normal so I can do gigs and play those songs live maybe with a band at some stage. It gets lonely.”
Lorraine has signed to FIFA Records, the Cork label who have worked with exciting talent like Fight Like Apes and established names the Frank & Walters.
“I’m excited. It’s just another platform to get my music heard by people that wouldn’t really hear it otherwise. I’m excited to see where this single goes with that extra push behind it.”
From Lyreacrompane, Lorraine is a talented pianist, guitar, harp, flute and violin player.
“I started playing music when I was like six or seven but that was only trad. I never really had interest in anything apart from trad until I was maybe 15 or 16. Then I started playing guitar. I only started writing songs when I was in fourth year. I wasn’t even singing until I was about 15 or 16 as well. I don’t know where that even came from because the whole time I was only ever doing instrumental kind of things like piano and flute and harp and that kind of craic.
“I feel like anything you ever listen to always feeds back into what you end up doing. When I did start listening to stuff that wasn’t trad, it was always country music or The Staves, Gillian Welsh and those folky-country people.”
There has been a lot of praise for Lorraine.
Hot Press magazine said of her: “The release of Wildflower marks the 21-year-old multi-instrumentalist as a compelling new presence in Ireland’s thriving scene.”
Lorraine says: “It’s great to see people like Hot Press and Golden Plec getting behind you because you would be reading their articles and looking at artists you would look up to yourself. It’s been great. At the moment when there is nothing live, those things kind of count for a lot more than they would have before.
“The highlight of the last year would definitely be the Opera House gig just because that’s a venue I definitely didn’t think was within my reach at that stage and to be able to play it with other artists that I really enjoy was brilliant.
“It was class. The ones at home- It’s nice to be asked to do them, definitely and they have kept me going but doing something in an actual venue and a venue like the Opera House was unreal.”
Although it was great to play in such a revered hall, it was eerie for it being completely empty apart from artists and cameramen.
“It was mad looking at a big empty venue with just two cameramen but at the same time it’s nice to say that I’ve played there.
“There was four of us sitting on the stage and then when one song was finished, no one knew if they should clap or not. There would be a couple of claps here and there and it was just an awkward four second silence after each song where no one knew what to do with themselves.
“It was a nice chance even to hear some music from the other people that were involved. There was Paddy Dennehy, Malojian and Niamh Regan so I’m actually now big fans of all of theirs. I really enjoyed the experience.”
Who are Lorraine’s biggest inspirations? “Someone I mention a lot and that I like as a songwriter is Laura Marling. I think Irish female artists like Wallis Bird and Emma Langford are definitely doing the things that I want to do. I would look up to them hugely.”
Since the current track is called Sing with Her, we have to ask Lorraine who she would most like to sing with if she could have any performer alive or dead.
“That’s hard. I’ve never been asked that question before actually. You’ve got the one question no one’s ever asked me. Let me think: Joni Mitchell. That’s it. Go big or go home.”
Lorraine’s debut album is forthcoming: “I have four singles picked out at the moment and it’s just seeing when the right time is to release an album.
“In the back of my mind I’m half thinking, Can I hold off until live music is a thing again and all that kind of stuff. I don’t want to leave it too long but at the same time it would be nice to have an actual gig releasing an album.
“I’m very excited to play live because it’s just so weird to play in front of a screen and there’s just no reaction. You can’t tell how bad you’re doing,” she says with a laugh.
Sing with Her is out now.
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