Basement Manners: Lorkin O'Reilly

Words by Maddy Howell

Change can act as a force for both positive and negative output. Whilst basking in a comfortable normality may often seem the easiest option, it is in both defining and redefining yourself that wonder can truly be uncovered. Having found himself lodged in the awkward rest stop between childhood and adulthood, Scottish-born singer-songwriter Lorkin O'Reilly decided to become an advocate for positive change, immigrating to New York to pursue a new, reimagined life as a musician.

With his songwriting abilities projecting a refreshing outlook on the problems of self-definition and discovery that we have all experienced, it's O'Reilly's ability to craft a beautifully intricate soundscape surrounding life's many turbulences that sets him aside from the ever-concentrated UK folk scene. We caught up with the musician ahead of the release of his debut album to talk about the writing process, signing to Team Love Records and his upcoming UK tour.

Burn After Writing: When did it first become apparent to you that music was a hobby that you truly wanted to pursue, and what other artists inspired you to follow in their footsteps?

Lorkin O'Reilly: To be honest I’ve never had much interest in doing anything else. Music has been at the center of everything for a while now, my interests and direction have changed a little over the years but I’m pretty rooted in basic songwriting practices. When I first picked up an acoustic at 18 I was listening to John Martyn, Nick Drake, John Renbourn and Bert Jansch but more recently I’ve been listening to Mark Kozelek, Mount Eerie, Townes Van Zandt and The Dead Tongues

BAW: Your debut full-length album, 'Heaven Depends', is released this August. This record comes across as intensely personal at times, much like your previous work. Do you ever find it uncomfortable or daunting to display yourself so openly in your music? 

LO: I like to be open with my writing but I expect the next record will delve deeper into that territory.  

BAW: How do you think your approach to songwriting has changed on this album since the release of your 2015 debut EP? 

LO: The five songs that make up my first EP, 'After The Thaw', were the first songs I ever wrote. We recorded it in one day and released it a week later. It happened very quickly. However, with this record we took a little longer, choosing which songs to keep and which to cut. As for writing though, my process has mostly remained the same. 

BAW: Huckleberry Finn is the first track to be released from the record, a winding, nostalgia-infused musical journey. What is the story behind this track? 

LO: I wrote it about spending summer holidays with my grandparents on the west coast of Scotland but the story is open to interpretation. 

BAW: The album is being released through Team Love Records. How did you come to work with them on this project? 

LO: I played a show at The Colony in Woodstock NY back in March, someone in the audience saw me and the following week I found myself in their office. I’m glad it all fell together. 

BAW: You’re originally from Edinburgh, yet chose to emigrate to New York in 2014. How has this move impacted on your writing process? 

LO: That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t know, but I’m sure it would be different if I had stayed.

BAW: Your sound is a pretty unique offering in the current UK folk landscape, with traces of Irish influence splattered throughout. What is your relationship to Ireland and where did you find inspiration from the country and it’s music? 

LO: My family is all Irish although they're scattered throughout the UK. 

BAW: Speaking of the UK, you have just announced a tour over here. What can we expect from these shows? 

LO: Yes, I’ll be doing a run of shows in late August through to September with Jerry Cronin on cello. Have a look on the website for all the dates but we will be covering a lot of ground! Can’t wait. 

BAW: After the album is out and the UK tour is underway, what’s next for you? 

LO: More shows back in the US as well as a tour of the South in October. It’s going to be a busy year.