Dublin newcomer Ailbhe Reddy is currently working towards her debut album, 'Personal History' (due 2nd October). It's an autobiographical record that reckons with break-ups, social media, loneliness, independence, coming out - all the ups and downs of modern life and growing up - via sensitive-yet-uplifting alt-folk.
“While I was writing this album I was delving into the world of psychotherapy and attachment theory a lot," she says, "different things that shape a person will ultimately affect their relationship with you. Every track on the album is talking about my relationship with another person and the final track is about my relationship with myself, so the title 'personal history' felt right."
Before the full thing arrives, today (Monday, 7th September) she drops highlight 'Looking Happy', a song about an ex who seems to be just fine post-break up.
Hi Ailbhe, how's it going? What are you up to today?
It's going good; I actually moved house recently, so I was spending most of the day setting up my home studio. Just got some nice new studio speakers delivered so going to probably blare music for a few hours to 'test' them. It's my first time having space for a home studio in years, so I'm pretty excited to have a nice space to work from!
It's been a bit of a weird year hasn't it, how have you found the past few months?
It's been really weird for everyone. Luckily it's just been weird for me and not too scary. I think anyone who has loved ones who are at risk or are frontline workers have had a scary year!
We've had a lot cancelled, SXSW, a few Irish and UK festivals and a tour in the USA that were all cancelled. Hopefully, we can see a return to a few gigs in the next few months though!
Your debut album is nearly here, what was the timeline like on putting that together?
I've been writing the album for a few years. Some of the songs are about 3 years old; some were written just before we recorded last year. I'm so excited to get it out into the world because we finished recording it last August. We delayed it a bit because of everything that was going on in the world, but I was keen to get it out before the end of 2020.
How would you describe the record's vibe?
I'm not great with genres or anything like that. I suppose it's a mix of indie rock and some folk elements too. I've been told there's quite a mix of sounds within the 10 tracks so I'll take other people's word on that!
What's your new single 'Looking Happy' about?
'Looking Happy' is about the classic experience of viewing someone else's life through their social media posts. I think most people have foolishly scrolled through their ex's Instagram and then felt like shit afterwards, so it's about that. Even though we all know in theory that people only present their happiest moments online, it's sometimes hard to take that on when you're hurt. It all stemmed from having that experience myself and strumming the chords of the chorus on my guitar and singing "I see you looking happy, on my telephone screen". It was kind of a jokey thing at first, but then I thought it was kinda catchy! It always strikes me as funny that we put on happy faces for photos even if people aren't enjoying themselves in truth, so that's what I was trying to capture in the music video. Although the music video was extremely fun to shoot, so it was so hard to keep a straight face!
What inspires you, both in music and in life?
Anything from everyday mundane things to existential angst!
What led to you wanting to become a musician?
I used to sit in the back of my mum's car and sing along to whatever she was playing (Don McLean, Queen, Bowie or Thin Lizzy usually) and singing just felt so good. I loved music and still derive great joy from singing and playing music.
Can you recall your first break into the industry?
I do! I shared a Soundcloud link to a demo I had recorded on an old 8-track in my bedroom. Someone from a radio station came across it and used it on an ad. So I figured, I should write some more.
Where would you like your debut album to take you?
I just want to keep writing and recording for the rest of my life and make a living from that! That would be my base level needs. Beyond that I'd love to tour around the world a bit more, you always meet the best people. I've got a little bucket list of venues I'd love to play and things I'd like to do. I'd just love for lots of people to hear the record and connect to it.
What are your plans for the foreseeable?
To release 'Personal History' and get to tour it and get started on my second album!
Ailbhe Reddy's debut album 'Personal History' is out 2nd October.