Attach to Memory is the triumphant second EP from Ailbhe Reddy, the singer/songwriter from Dublin whose indie-folk vibes and heartfelt lyrics wowed us when she played Canadian Music Week last month. The first EP to feature her full band, Attach to Memory consists of four songs and weaves the tale of a harrowing breakup. I sat down to talk to Ailbhe about recording the EP, breakups, and the Dublin music scene:
AMBY: What is the significance of the “attach to memory” lyric for you, and why did you decide on that as the title for the EP?
AR: Have you listened to the EP?
AMBY: Yes. Many times.
AR: Oh well that’s good! It’s from the beginning of the song “Never Loved”, and the whole EP is about a particular breakup. The lyric is “these drugs are sensory, attached to memory, like I attached myself to you.” It’s about a very passionate, and at times quite alcohol and drug-fuelled relationship that went awry. All the songs are attached to a specific memory of the person, because by the time I’d written those songs the relationship was pretty much dead in the ground.
AMBY: “Never Loved” is my favourite on the EP.
AR: Ah thanks, me too!
AMBY: How long did it take you to write that song?
AR: That one actually took me ages. I broke up with this person and then started writing the “I never loved you like I miss you” bit a few weeks after, but I only finished and pulled it all together this Christmas. So it took me the better part of a year. And I’m usually really fast, but for some reason I had to sit with this one.
AMBY: You dropped the EP as a surprise, right?
AR: (laughs) Yeah, it was kind of a surprise to me! My manager just said we were going to go live with it on the Monday and I went “okay, cool.”
AMBY: (laughs) Oh, so it was your manager’s decision!
AR: Well I had it ready. I’m really bad with logistics and all of that, so I just left it up to my manager, because the EP was done and I was happy with it, and the artwork was done. I took the photo in Toronto when I was there for CMW and I sent it to my friend and she just did up the artwork for it.
AMBY: That’s great. Something I noticed when I was listening to Attach to Memory is that the sound is different than Hollowed Out Sea. It sounds like a live set, very raw. Was that intentional?
AR: Yeah, it was. Hollowed Out Sea was very much done piece-by-piece. I’d go in, do just the guitar line, and we’d also come up with bits in the studio. Attach to Memory was a lot more collaborative with the guys who are in my band. I wanted it to sound like our live set. There’s nothing I dislike more than when I really love a song and I go to see the artist when they’re in town and it sounds nothing like the song I know. I’m always kind of determined to make my live performance sound like the song always does.
AMBY: Of course. Is it harder or easier to record like that?
AR: I think it’s easier, because all those songs on the EP are songs we’ve gigged out quite a bit. Or at least I have. I play “Never Loved” alone usually, because I like to play around with timing.
AMBY: I definitely noticed you played a couple of those songs when you were here for CMW.
AR: Oh of course, yeah. I think I played three of the four songs.
AMBY: You’ve played on our side of the pond now and I know you’ve got a pretty serious tour of Ireland and the UK coming up. Is there a difference between performing for international audiences and one’s at home?
AR: Yeah, I’m in Ireland this month and we go to play the UK next month. Everyone said Canadian audiences would be really different than Irish ones. And they listen way more intently, but they still react to my dumb jokes the same. So I actually kind of liked it. Irish crowds can be a bit more rowdy (laughs).
AR: I thought it was pretty much the same. Most people don’t say that, but I think it’s quite similar. I think people who love music and go to gigs are the same all over the world. They just want to hear, and they’re rooting for you to be good.
AMBY: I think so too.
AR: I know as a music lover myself, I never go in to try to tear a band apart. I go in hoping they’re going to be good and I’m delighted when they are.
AMBY: Especially if you like the band.
AR: Yeah! And even if it’s not going that well you always hope they’ll pick up.
AMBY: Exactly. Forever hopeful. Which is the best Dublin venue to see a live show?
AR: That’s a good question. Ruby’s is always really nice. Ruby’s on a Tuesday in Doyle’s pub. It’s a really quiet, more acoustic, stripped back set. Most people love that because the audience is unbelievably attentive.
AMBY: That’s where they hold the Ruby Sessions, right?
AR: Yeah, that’s one of my favourite venues to play too. I always play that one solo. You hear everybody’s songs stripped to just the song. There’s no production. You can see the song how it is, which I always think is really interesting.
AMBY: And who would be your dream jam session, dead or alive?
AR: Fiona Apple.
AMBY: (laughs) I love Fiona Apple.
AR: Oh I’m obsessed with her. I don’t think I’ve ever done an interview where I don’t bring her up.
AMBY: That’s fine, because one day she’ll read one, and then she’ll know.
AR: She’ll be like “this girl is obsessed with me.”
AMBY: Have you heard that song she wrote for the TV series The Affair?
AR: Oh my god, yeah. “Container.” Amazing.
AMBY: Has she recorded a full version yet?
AR: No, it’s only a minute long. There are some remixes online that are longer, but she doesn’t have an official version out yet. And I love that song. If I ever find anything I will let you know, because I’m always looking. And you have to do the same for me.
AMBY: Obviously. Alright, final question: I want your favourite Irish artists we probably don’t know about here yet.
AR: That’s tough. Let me think. Talos is really good. Have you heard of them?
AMBY: Not yet!
AR: I’m sure you’ve heard of Saint Sister.
AMBY: Oh I love Saint Sister. Our reader’s might not know about them though. They’re on tour with Lisa Hannigan right now.
AR: Yeah they are. What a dream.
AMBY: Lisa Hannigan’s another person I’ve never seen live who I need to see.
AR: I haven’t either! I was supposed to see her in the summer. I got a horrific stomach bug and couldn’t go. It was an intimate gig you had to win tickets to, and I was like “of course.”
AMBY: She rarely plays in Canada and she was supposed to play Montreal and then cancelled. I was extremely saddened.
AR: You and me both, we need to go see Lisa Hannigan A.S.A.P.
AMBY: Next time I’m in Dublin we’ll have to figure it out.
AR: We’ll just ask her.
AMBY: We’ll beg. It’ll work.
AR: I also love Bitch Falcon, but I know you already know about them because they were at CMW. They’re like the coolest people in the world.
AMBY: I bumped into Lizzie Fitzpatrick in the bathroom at the hotel during CMW, and I’ve seen her play live twice but never met her. She was probably very concerned for me, but I totally fangirled over her in a toilet, because I think she’s amazing.
AR: Oh she was definitely delighted. Usually when someone comes up to me I’m just thrilled they know who I am.
AMBY: (laughs) That makes me feel better.
AR: I’ve just realized I’m wearing my jumper inside out.
AMBY: It’s okay, you can totally rock it. Besides, this isn’t a video interview.
Review by Tanis Smither | @Tanisquinn