After a few seconds of listening I was absolutely impressed and thrilled by the melody and the pleasant voice of the singer. Spontaneously I wrote to The Nation Mourns and asked him to have an interview with me. He immediately showed interest.
The Nation Mourns! – this is the artist name of the musician Neil O’Shea. Neil is an Irish singer/songwriter who recently moved to Berlin. On November 13th his debut single Ogre was released on all music platforms.
Here comes my interview with 10 questions for Neil O’Shea.
1. Neil, how long have you lived in Berlin and what made you decide to move to Germany?
I’ve been in Berlin for almost 2 years now. It’s actually 2 years on Sunday! I came over in the summer of 2017 for a couple of months. But after going back home I realised I had to go back! So I officially moved here in November 2018. It was a pretty easy decision to come to Berlin. I had always wanted to live in a big city with a vibrant music scene. So after that first summer I was hooked on the place.
2. In which special genre would you classify your music?
That is a tough one. I guess it’s a bit folky and with alternative elements. I grew up listening to a wide range for music that seems to creep in here and there.
3. In which region of Ireland have you lived and what has influenced your music? Which artists inspire you?
I come from Cork, in the South of Ireland. A really lovely city with an extremely talented music scene. As I said in the earlier question it was a bit of an eclectic mix of music for me growing up. Everything from Thrash metal to Abba. But it was songwriters such as Paul Simon, Tom Waits, and Jackson C Frank pulled me towards songwriting in my late teens. Then I got more into the older folk stuff as well more modern alt rock and folk with artists such as The National, Fruit Bats, and Damien Jurado.
4. You write Just Another Folkin‘ Singer-Songwriter in your bio on Instagram and Facebook. How you differ from the many musicans who are also active in the folk scene?
I think we all differ from each other in many ways. But mostly by doing so we all come together to complement each other very well. Theres such a great mix of folk musicians in Berlin, all with their own influences. But usually we all have some common influence which really ties us all together in a full spectrum of folky goodness.
5. When did you start writing songs?
I’m not 100% sure what age I was but I think I was about 13 or 14, when a friend and I wrote a pretty bad “rock” song (I believe was called ‘Devil Eyes’ haha) in my parents living room. I was hooked on it from then on, trying to write chord progressions and riffs on the guitar.
6. Do you play other instruments besides the guitar?
Guitar is really the main one for me. I played the bass on the recording for Ogre and the rest of the album. I’ve owned a mandolin in the past and can play some piano. But I spend most of my time trying to get as good at the guitar as possible. But I’ll tinker around on other instruments when I’m writing.
7. The text of your song describes the thoughts of an ogre who seems to be very unhappy with his life. What connection do you see? Is there a connection to your personal experiences/moments in your life? What do you want to convey to the listener of the song? Is your lyric more in the melancholic realm or is it to be understood as a cry of a certain helplessness and the courage to start over?
Well I was going through a bit of a tough time in my life when I wrote Ogre. Theres definitely some personal elements coming in there. But the song is also about the world we live in. About how our lives are constantly coming under scrutiny (usually personal!) In this social media age that seems to just have taken over every single part of our society.
8. You’re an unsigned artist. Is that what you can imagine for a longer period of time?
Well for the time being anyway. It’d be great to have the push of a nice record label too!
9. Will we be able to expect further releases from you soon?
Yes definitely, I have another single finished and ready to go. So I’m hoping to have that out early in the New Year. Then I have to finish up a few things for the rest of the album but that will be coming mid next year.
10. What are your plans for next year, in terms of performances/tours, should Corona allow it? What do you think about house concerts?
That’s tough, I love performing live. If venues are able to deal with the situation safely then of course they should be allowed to have gigs.For next year I’m going to finish recording the album and release my second single. Hopefully I will be able to start to book shows again and then see about a tour. I really enjoy house concerts. Theres always such a great intimate atmosphere and you end always up meeting some very cool people.
Thank you Neil, for your open and detailed answers. I enjoyed talking to you very much. I wish you success and all the best for your future.
Now you got an insight into the songwriting of a very talented folk musician with Irish roots, who lives in Berlin and released his debut single last Friday. He told us about his desire for
more acceptance in society and the fear of losing control of his own personality in a world that is increasingly taken over by social media.
The melody underlines this excellent song with an interplay of folky, very harmonious elements that combine with a catchy sound to form a beautiful whole. I‘m very excited about his next release.
You can find the video for ‚Ogre‘ below.
Of course you can listen to the song on my KAFFEEHAUSMUSIK playlist on Spotify.