Creating beautiful music and melodies doesn’t always come easy, but for some, it’s engraved in their DNA. This is exactly the case for Roisin O, and something she feels she was always meant to do. As a child, she’d regularly be found sitting by the piano, lost in her own world creating music – and now, little Rosin would be thrilled to see how far she’s come. Growing up, music was all around her – “but not in a weird way”, she laughs. “People have this idea that we’re like the Von Trapp family singing up and down the stairs, but that’s not the case.” Her mum, the incredible Mary Black, always encouraged but never pressured her children into learning how to play instruments. She passed her musical know-how onto the little ones, and after that, left them to their own devices. What her children Connor, Danny and Roisin did in life, was entirely up to them. Two out of three, Danny (frontman of The Coronas) and Rosin, followed in her footsteps, while Conor went an entirely different route and focused his attention on the world of engineering.
All incredibly close, Danny and Rosin have grown to not only have a great sibling relationship – which Roisin jokes didn’t come until later in life – but a professional one too. Working together on new music and touring the world side by side, this family certainly knows how to put on a show. Now, after penning a brand new album during lockdown, the Dubliner is ready to hit the road with an exciting new Irish tour and here, chats to us about life both on and off stage.
Roisin, it’s been about a week since our shoot. How are you keeping?
It’s been non-stop! I went straight down to Dingle after our shoot and recorded the music video for Stolen up on a mountain top. We got an absolutely stunning day! It’s just been released and we’ve had a great reaction so far. And I just finished the album too, so it’s all go but I’m glad to be busy.
Those two years of various lockdowns were tough for everyone for various reasons. Your industry was really impacted….how did you find that time and are you glad that you can get back out on the road and continue to do what you love again?
Oh 100 percent! Lockdown was a mad one for me. When it started I was still in a band called Thanks Brother but we came to a natural end. It was a tough time for everyone in the industry, but I almost felt like I was starting from scratch. I decided to go back to Roisin O and released a cover of Lose You To Love Me by Selena Gomez and it blew up online! I saw massive engagement with my own fans again on my old platforms and thought yeah, it was time to come back again. I don’t know if I’d have done it if it wasn’t for lockdown. It really gave me a moment to breathe and think about what I wanted to do. There was no distractions either so I was just writing songs and recording. I’m so thrilled to be back gigging now though. I love to perform live, it’s what I enjoy most about music.
You’ve a very exciting few weeks ahead with the release of new music and a string of shows. How do you feel?
I’m buzzing! I can’t catch a breath, I’m on full work mode. I love it but it’s really intense at the moment. I’m not for one second going to complain about being busy though after being so bored for so long. I’d been so worried about having no work and now my calendar is crazy full but it’s great.
You’ve had a couple of gigs already. Was it daunting getting back out on stage after the last two years, or did it feel like you’ve never left?
It was a little bit daunting at first, I felt nervous. I’ve been doing this for so long that I wouldn’t usually get that, but it was a bit nerve wreaking because I hadn’t performed as Rosin O, a solo act, in so long. Now I’m just genuinely happy. I’m so excited to get into the rehearsal studio with my band. I can’t wait! I’ve great players with me, they’re unbelievable! Being a solo act, you take on so much by yourself but it’s great to get on tour and be on stage with a bunch of musicians who you trust and are great at their jobs. It’s one of the best parts!
During our shoot you mentioned going on a world tour with The Coronas later this year. That’ll be fun!
I love them, they’re one of my favourite bands. I’m so biased, but I love their music and their songs. When they asked me to play keys, I immediately said yes – sure I knew the set already! Being on tour with them is the best craic. It doesn’t feel like work at all, it’s so much fun. Getting to play for their audiences will be amazing. They’re heading on a world tour in September/October, going to the UK and Germany and then they’ll be going to American, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some of the Middle East as well, so I’ll be opening the show and playing keys during their set. Getting to those audiences with a bunch of lads who I love, I can’t wait. It’s going to be an amazing trip.
Are you and Danny super close then?
We are, yeah. I think we might have grown even closer in lockdown as we spent a lot of time together in Dingle writing songs. We get on so well; we’re good pals as well as being brother and sister. I wrote a few songs with him for the album and he produced the last three that I just finished. It’s been amazing to work with him. We don’t kill each other now like we did when we were kids [laughs]. We’re alright now. When we were younger he thought I was a little brat and I thought he was a horrible old teenage boy. We didn’t have time for each other at all! It wasn’t until we got into our mid twenties that we actually started hanging out and writing music together. We’re very close now, and the same with our older brother Connor. We’re a really tight-knit family.
Growing up, music must have been a big part of your life.
People have this idea that we’re like the Von Trapp family singing up and down the stairs, but that’s not the case [laughs]. For us it was so normal having music in the house, it was such a big part of our lives. We were encouraged to play instruments. The boys played guitar and I went for piano. We wouldn’t have been sitting around serenading each other though! My mam is amazing. It’s great to have someone there who cares about you so much and who also happens to work in the same field as you. In terms of advice, it’s invaluable having her around. She only ever wants the best for us and we can trust her opinion entirely. We’re very, very close. She’s great – and a great cook as well! The older I get the more I appreciate that.
She must be so proud of you, and all you’ve achieved, carving a name for yourself.
Ah yeah, she is! She gets asked about me and Danny a lot but she’s just as proud of Connor too and everything he has achieved. He’s almost the black sheep of the family going off to do engineering and getting a real job. She’s proud of us all.
Who else would you look up to in the music world, is there anyone in particular who inspires you?
From a young age I was obsessed with Joni Mitchell. She came into my life with the Blue album and it’s still my favourite to this day. It’s all about the art for her, singing and connecting with people. I’d love to sit down and chat with her. In more modern times, I love Phoebe Bridgers.
Finally Roisin, talk to us about Irish Women in Harmony. It’s such a brilliant initiative and great to see so many incredible female performers come together as one.
I love it! Irish Women in Harmony is another one of the best things that came out of lockdown. I don’t think any of us could have imagined how brilliantly it would go and how many people would connect with it. Meeting all those women was great. We started a WhatsApp group around the same time we released Dreams and it’s a great space to go and talk to women in your field. Having that support network is unbelievable, we give each other pep talks and it’s such a nice thing to have. Women in this industry can oftentimes feel pitted against each other, but really, we can big each other up just as easily. It’s only when you get to know these sort of people that you realise everyone is cheering for each other. It’s really, really amazing to see that!
Roisin’s album Courageous is out on 29th April and her nationwide tour kicks off on April 14th with shows in Cork, Limerick, Dublin, Galway and more.
Interview: Michelle Dardis
Photography: Evan Doherty
Styling: Zeda The Architect
Hair: Stephanie Nwambu (@callahcrowns) using L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art
Makeup: Robert Reilly (@RobertRMakeup) using Sunday Riley
This shoot took place in Dublin’s Workman’s Club. Visit www.theworkmansclub.com for more.