Orla Gartland’s music is taking the world by storm. Although she first started gaining some notoriety years ago with her YouTube covers, her original music has allowed her to blossom into quite the successful, independent artist.
I got the chance to talk with Orla about how she originally got into music, how much of “Flatline” changed once she got into the studio, her new EP and so much more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
I wrote something resembling song at about 14 and was desperate to perform it somewhere, somehow. All of my local open mics were in pubs and they wouldn’t let me play, so I put it on YouTube instead.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
I remember seeing Coldplay with my dad when I was 11; I didn’t know any of the songs, but I remember thinking it was cool that they played music as a job. Later on, my friends from home brought their band Hudson Taylor to the UK and started making music full time. It was probably seeing them actually do it that made it feel possible for me.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your sound would typically be classified as indie-pop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
Yes, I HATE genre names. ‘Singer-songwriter’ is the worst; [it’s] almost a derogatory term at this point. I guess for me it would be confessional, personality-driven pop.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
Regina Spektor, Stevie Nicks, Darwin Deez, Imogen Heap!
Let’s talk your song, “Flatline”. What’s the story behind this song?
I wrote “Flatline” about a friendship I felt I was giving everything to and getting nothing back. I am a relentless people pleaser (often to my own detriment) and really learnt that about myself through writing this song and gigging it for years before its release.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for this song.
It’s the only co-write on my EP [and] I wrote it with my friend James Flannigan. I was frustrated that summer about this dysfunctional friendship and it was on my mind when we began writing; it felt inevitable that we’d pen something about that. I had just started exploring the electric guitar, so [I] started with a delayed loop of a D note and just tried different chords over that. I wanted the feeling of the song to be upbeat to provide some kind of contrast with the lyric, which is pretty desperate really.
Are you someone who always has to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with others?
I like a bit of both; co-writing with the right people can be great. I really enjoy writing on my own at the moment.
Were there any major changes made to “Flatline” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Yeah, we changed most of the two verses! The song was written four years ago and I’ve changed a lot as a writer now. I used to hide behind metaphors but now I prefer to be more direct about a lyric. We re-recorded all of the vocals and drums, [and] most of the synths. I think we kept the guitar riff from the original demo, but everything else we scrapped and revisited.
Your new EP Why Am I Like This? is coming out on May 24th. What can fans expect from it?
Four inward-facing songs written in the four years since I moved to London. All songs about moments where I realized something about myself. I’d love people to listen and ask themselves the same kind of questions, about their personality and how they came to be that way.
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I’d like to write and release an album I’m proud of. That sounds sort of obvious, but I have a ton of friends with artist projects and it’s the hardest thing to do, especially when you have a team with a different vision for the music than the artist. So I’d like to write and record a set of songs that feel like a very real, undiluted version of me.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Plugins. I love production and I’ve been freaking out about a new multi-band compressor plugin that I bought recently – it’s a real game-changer but no one else in my life seems to care? Huh.