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Roisin O'Hagan

Photographed by Dani Willgress

Words by Amy Bell

Roisin O’Hagan is an independent singer-songwriter and Fender Undiscovered Artist finalist who has supported major artists including Chris Shiflett (Foo Fighters) and Pete Murray. Roisin, who can normally be found gigging regularly across the UK, has spent lockdown writing and recording new music with producer Adam Falkingham (Art Will Fall) in their homestudio. Her single ‘Us’ was released on October 9th, in conjunction with a sold out headline launch show in London, and has received major Spotify editorial playlist placements, including Very Nearly Nashville. 2021 will see frequent music releases from Roisin, beginning with the upcoming release of the relatable single 'Girls Like Me' - a fan-favourite, written in response to receiving unsolicited messages on social media. 

Hi Roisin, your new single ‘Girls Like Me’ came out yesterday, how did you prepare for this release?

Hey! It’s definitely strange releasing music at the moment. I would normally play lots of gigs and visit radio stations to promote releases, but releasing music at the moment looks like: social media posts, live streams and radio interviews via Zoom. I’ve been talking a lot about the song and it’s backstory online - it seems to be a topic that, unfortunately, a lot of people can relate to, so it’s been great getting to connect with people through this single.

‘Girls Like Me’ is about getting creepy messages from guys and then getting called horrible names, with this release, what inspired you to write this song about your situation?

Towards the end of last year, I opened an Instagram message to find that a stranger had called me a very uncalled for name (which becomes clear in the lyrics of the chorus) after I hadn’t replied to their creepy and unsolicited messages. In the moment, I laughed it off and told a couple of friends. Later that day, though, I was thinking about the situation and about how inappropriate this sort of behavior is. It got me thinking about how unsurprised I was by it and about how many friends and fellow musicians I know have had similar and worse experiences. I ended up writing ‘Girls Like Me’ that afternoon in about an hour or so, with the aim of writing a song that calls out this behaviour. It’s not something that just women deal with, of course, but ‘Girls Like Me’ is a song about my experiences as a young woman.

What do you hope to achieve from this new single?

I hope it will spark a little bit of conversation about the topic and show who I am as an artist and what I stand for. Part of the reason I love my favourite artists is that I know what they believe and the morals they uphold, so I want to demonstrate this through my music too. I also believe that people can be, and do, better. So I hope that it might persuade people that attitudes and behaviours can be changed by talking about topics that feel uncomfortable.

Who inspires you?

My favourite band is Counting Crows; specifically, I am inspired by Adam Durits (frontman and main songwriter) as a writer and as a creative person. He has such an emotive and unique way of expressing feelings and moments through song. One video I go back to time and time again is the video of ‘Round Here’ live at Town Hall (the video is important to the performance). That performance endlessly inspires me. Crazily, a lot of the lyrics in that performance are improvised, and changed every time it’s performed. Another favourite artist of mine is Taylor Swift. Songwriting is at the core of why I love music, and she is an incredibly versatile songwriter. I remember being 11 or 12 and listening to her first two albums for the first time. I was in disbelief that someone could make something that made me feel the way her songs made me feel. It was a big driver for me in deciding that becoming a songwriter and working everyday to improve my ability to craft a song that has meaning was something I *have* to do.

What do you hope to convey to your listeners of the new single and the message you want to get across?

I hope that, if people can relate to the song, it makes the subject feel lighter to them and encourages them to talk about this type of behaviour. I also hope it comes across that I do believe people can be better and do better. I really think, through conversation, we have the power to make changes when it comes to topics like this.

What is next for you in 2021?

Now that things are looking a little brighter, I am starting to get some gigs and festivals booked in (yay!). One such gig is a socially distanced gig on 19th June at Three Wise Monkeys in Colchester, Essex. I’m also going to be playing at Tennessee Fields festival on 10th July. It’s so exciting to have some live dates on the cards again. Also, I’m writing non-stop and recording lots, so expect lots more music coming from me.

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