After ten years Róisín O has made her way back to her solo roots, and it has been worth the wait. We catch up with the Dublin native to chat about her new album, gigging at a huge Oscars party and that Selena Gomez cover.

It's been ten years since the sublime singer from Dublin released her debut album, The Secret Life of Blue. But it’s not like Róisín has been resting on her laurels.

In the past decade, she has immersed herself in several successful collaborations including as the lead singer of Thanks Brother and as part of Irish Women in Harmony. She has also performed all over the world - including a very fancy Oscars party - and even supported Lionel Richie!

"I was writing things down that I hadn't actually admitted to myself in my head yet and it wasn’t until I wrote the song (Heart + Bones) that I understood what was going on with me"

And while she comes from a famous Irish family, Róisín has her own distinct voice and musicality and, as is evident on her sophomore album Courageous, she leaves an indelible impression with her song-writing.

The initial releases from Courageous (Heart + Bones, Still Gold, and 2023) signal that it is going to take us on a journey of heartbreak and healing, all with a little room for getting up, dusting ourselves off and dancing.

Congratulations on your new album Courageous! It is also the name of the last track on the album - can you tell us about the song, and also why you decided to name the album Courageous?
Thank you! When it came to deciding a name for the album, I knew that every song had an underlying theme of bravery, so it seemed a natural choice to lean into that theme for the title as every track is 'courageous' in one way or another. In the song 2023 I mention the quote "have courage and be kind" which is something I’ve been trying to live by too and is what this album is all about. Courageous was also the last track I wrote for the album bringing the process to a close. It really brought everything full circle for me as recording and releasing a second album had always been a daunting thought, something I kept putting at arm's length – but now it’s out in the world for everyone to hear, a step that took a bit of courage in itself!

Can you tell me about a time in your life when you were courageous?
Releasing this album itself took a lot of courage for me to be honest. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come back to being a songwriter or solo act and when Thanks Brother came to its natural end. I was a little bit left at my wit’s end in lockdown and not sure where I was going with my career and I felt very daunted about coming back to Róisín O. I had a good chat with my manager Adelle and I decided there was a fan base there who wanted to hear my music and it took a little bit of pushing and courage to do it but I finally decided on being confident in coming back to my own music.

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You wrote a lot of the album while you were at your home in Dingle - can you describe what the days were like and what the writing process was like while you were there?
I was so lucky to get down to Dingle in lockdown with my brother Danny and we would take things leisurely, go for walks, go for hikes and go to town to get coffee, make dinners… we usually wouldn’t get to writing until the evening after dinner when it got dark in the winter, staying up until 1am. It was just really chilled and it was before I had fully decided to come back to Róisín O and I put no pressure on myself. It was idyllic and amazing to get away from the city and be in that lovely setting to write songs.

You've mentioned that Danny helped with some of the writing on the album - do you both have the same process when it comes to writing music?
We have a similar process but I would say even my process changes all the time. Sometimes I will write lyrics and try to put them to music or other times the lyrics will come to me as I’m writing the chord progression. I’d say Danny is similar, he writes the chords first and lets the melody lead the lyrics.

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Are you able to freely tell each other when something is good or bad?
Yes, definitely we have a good dynamic and we can do it in a way that isn’t offensive. It’s easier because we are brother and sister so we aren’t trying to be polite generally, we talk to each other like family. We could easily get mean but it honestly never does, we are very open with the music and he takes my opinion and I take his. With my music, I have the last say and if we are working on Coronas’ stuff he has the last say.

What was the easiest, and most difficult song to write on Courageous and why?
The easiest song to write was probably Better Now because we wrote it so quickly. I had nearly finished the album when I set up a writing session with Lar Kaye from All Tvvin. He had this whole backing track pretty spot on as to what’s on the album now, and I just thought it sounded so good. The first vocal I put down is nearly what is on the album now. I don’t know why it was so easy to write but Lar was so brilliant and he was so open to everything I was doing, I didn’t feel nervous at all with him and that was just really easy and finished in a few hours.

The most difficult was Heart + Bones. It didn’t actually take me long, I wrote it quite quickly one night at 1am in Dingle but I think the subject matter. I was writing things down that I hadn’t actually admitted to myself in my head yet and it wasn’t until I wrote the song that I understood what was going on with me. It took that song to come to terms with some stuff that was going on in my life and that was quite difficult, but it was not only a turning point in my career but also in my personal life. Difficult but maybe for the best!

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Do you have a favourite track from the album?
Heart + Bones is definitely one of them. It always changes and at the moment I am loving Night Stretches Through, it starts with this really groovy instrumental almost a Fleetwood Mac-esque bassline with rhythmic guitar and I just love hearing that intro and being on stage listening and singing that song.

You can really feel that you are laying it all bare on this album - did you find it cathartic writing it?
I definitely did find it cathartic. There were moments when I was like, ‘is this too much?’ or ‘am I giving the listener too much of myself?’ but the more I’ve written the more I’ve realised that is what people connect to, you need to put yourself into the songs for people to respond and see themselves in it too. It was definitely cathartic and got me through a lot.

What was it like returning to the stage as a solo artist earlier this month?
It was amazing, I was nervous but the crowd in Mike the Pies was brilliant and I have this amazing band behind me who I feel so comfortable on stage with and getting to listen to these songs live for the first time is just magic.

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What songs are you enjoying performing?
Night Stretches Through and I love performing Stolen. It starts like a ballad but at the end it has this Bruce Springsteen vibe that Gavin James wrote, it just gets going, I love that shift in gears on stage.

What would you say was your favourite moment on stage or gig you have performed?
Playing JJ Abrams’ Oscar Party in LA. He throws this massive Oscar party every year and always has two Irish acts perform. It was myself and Snow Patrol and it was one of the most surreal nights of my life. I had to walk the red carpet before the gig and there was literally a wall of paparazzi shouting my name to get photos. When we performed, Steven Spielberg literally stood front and centre the whole gig recording us on his phone. Insane scenes!

Who is on the bucket list to collaborate/perform with?
I love Haim, since they released their first EP, I have been a massive fan! I’d love to play with them. I’ve actually been very lucky with the amazing people I’ve already collaborated with including Irish Women in Harmony. I became close friends with some amazing Irish musicians from that such as Ailbhe Reddy and Faye O’Rourke of Soda Blonde. I also supported Lionel Richie in the 3Arena once, which was just after my debut album came out – crazy! On the album, I’ve worked with some amazing Irish talent too, such as Danny, Gavin James, and Lar Kaye from All Tvvins.

What songs are you listening to at the moment?
I am listening to a lot of Beach House, Arlo Parks, Phoebe Bridgers, there are a lot of ladies on my Spotify at the moment.

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Your cover of Selena Gomez's Lose You To Love Me is sublime - do you know if she has heard it?
I don’t know if she has heard, I couldn’t be sure! It has two million streams now on Spotify so you never know she could be one of those two million?!

Any other covers up your sleeve?
I will definitely be doing some more covers but you’ll have to watch this space to hear them!

Róisín is back on the road playing venues across Ireland including Limerick, Dublin, Galway, Donegal, Laois and Kilarney. Tickets are on sale now from all usual outlets.