Having shared stages with the likes of Lisa Hannigan and Gemma Hayes, Irish artist Sadhbh O’Sullivan – aka Sive – creates slices of spellbinding alt-folk, interweaving twinkling melodies with soaring, multi-layered vocals and a unique, compelling charm.
With her captivating latest single ‘Quietly’ out now, we caught up with Sive to find out more…
Hi Sive, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thank you! I’m an Irish songwriter and musician living in a place called Kildare, not too far from Dublin. I’ve been writing and performing independently for about 10 years now, and in that time I’ve released two albums and toured all over Ireland, Europe and New Zealand. I recently started working with Berlin-based label Veta Records, so I’m really delighted to be releasing my new music in collaboration with them.
How did you initially start creating music?
As a kid I loved singing along with whatever pop songs I happened to be obsessing over at the time. I particularly remember being fascinated with harmony and learning the backing vocals parts, which is probably a little weird for a child. It was really when I was about 13 and got my first guitar that I started to write songs. I had a tape recorder which I used to use for very fancy multi-tracking (you need two blank tapes and a second tape player – happy to give lessons if anyone’s interested), and then I eventually got a Boss 8-track recording device which allowed me to mess around a little bit more with arrangements – piano parts, layered vocals etc. I’m showing my age now! When I finished school I went to study in Ballyfermot Rock School and started playing my songs with other musicians. It was terrifying, I hated singing in public for a long time, but that’s when I really started to take my own music to the next level.
Your new single ‘Quietly’ is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about?
It’s about feeling overwhelmed by the noise of the world, and wanting to find a space among all of that to be quiet. It reflects what it’s like to just stop and listen to what’s going on inside yourself – it can be a calming experience but also a little scary in there. The video played around with using lots of projected images to reflect the idea that you create this mad and complex reality in your head, and then project it out onto the world around you.
You’ve been compared to the likes of Jesca Hoop and Julia Jacklin, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Jesca Hoop would certainly be one of the more recent ones. I’m not familiar with Julia Jacklin but will look her up – it’s always interesting when you get compared to someone you haven’t heard yet! Some of my biggest influences over the years were Tori Amos, Simon and Garfunkel, The Shins, Feist, Ella Fitzgerald, Kila and Jeff Buckley. More recently I’ve been listening to This is the Kit, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Rokia Troare, The Toure-Raichel Collective, Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell. I really love choral and early vocal music, and I think that’s why vocal layering is one of my favourite parts of the recording process!
How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
My local music scene is on the up. Being so close to Dublin I think people are used to travelling for their live music, but more has started happening in my area. I was actually involved in setting up a new night in my own community called Skylarks Music Club recently, which got off to a roaringly successful start. It’s happening in an old nun’s chapel and our first night featured three amazing performances from Cathy Davey, Ross Breen and Farah Elle as well as our house band who are called Square Pegs. I also just opened for John Spillane in a community centre in a small town nearby last weekend. It was their first live music endeavour in there and they put a lot of work in to make it succeed, so I really hope they continue to grow. John’s live show is really fantastic!
And what can fans expect from your live shows?
My live show has ebbed and flowed over time, depending on what feels right for different gigs. At the moment I’m enjoying playing solo because it opens me up to some nice intimate gig opportunities and also gives me a chance to really connect with the audience. I always try to engage the crowd as much as possible by chatting a bit about the songs etc, so that hopefully it feels like a shared experience as opposed to me just singing at them. I’m actually toying with some new ideas for my live shows for next year though, so at the moment your guess is as good as mine as to how that might unfold!
As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I’m always scared to answer these questions, because I know so many talented artists that I hate leaving anyone out! But I’ll narrow it down to a few who I’ve gigged with recently or who’ve released new music this year. Some of those who I’d recommend checking out would be Maria Kelly, Pearly, Ross Breen, Farah Elle, Dani, Inni-K, and Hatchlings. My pal Emma O’Reilly has some new stuff stuff up her sleeve too, I had a sneak preview a while ago and it’s well worth keeping your eyes peeled for!
And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
It is difficult because there are so many people making music independently out there. But I think if you have good material and you put some thought into how you want to present it, it’s very doable. The upside of social media is that, if you’re clever, you really can do so much by yourself. The downside is that it’s quite saturated, and you also end up having to pay to make sure the stuff you share gets seen even by people who’ve already liked or followed you. But I do think there are endless opportunities out there for people who are willing to persevere.
Finally, what does the rest of 2018 have in store for Sive?
Well I’ve just released my new single ‘Quietly’ as you mentioned, along with the video by Myles O’Reilly which was a dream to make. I’m planning lots more releases for 2019, so the rest of this year will be mostly preparing for everything that goes along with that. In fact, as soon as I finish chatting to you I’ll be packing my bags to head off for a week’s writing retreat in a little village on the southeast coast of Ireland! I do have a gig coming up in Whelan’s on Sunday 9th of December, supporting a great songwriter called Enda Reilly. Then there are some lovely shows already planned for early next, so do come and say hi on social media if you’re interested in finding out more!
‘Quietly’, the new single from Sive, is out now via Veta Records.