Garr Cleary: Love Lost Hope

Photo by Maria Shields O’Kelly.

Photo by Maria Shields O’Kelly.

There was salt in the wind, along with the unmistakable smell that is Poolbeg. The pier that reaches out to the lighthouse was being sprinkled with sea spray when musician Garr Cleary spoke to NewsFour about his upcoming tour and album release and living on an island off the Mayo coast.

Cleary, who has supported Hozier and Ellie Goulding at some of the country’s most prestigious music festivals, has a lot more to express than the nautical style that has endeared him to many, and he is presently seeking to reflect a city environment as he returns from a period of working and writing in Kerry.

“It was amazing, in the middle of nowhere. It usually takes a week or two to realise what you’re there for but this time the writing came really fast and after the first day I had a song written.”

Talking about his change of theme, Cleary said, “Don’t get me wrong; I still love the sea. I would have grown up around it in Kilbarrack. Like I’d live in that,” he said, pointing to a green buoy just off the pier.

A trademark of his style is heartfelt writing from personal experience. The very first song he ever wrote was not nautically themed at all. It was born from a tragedy and was the way the then 15 year old dealt with grief. The profound Twenty Percent made it onto his first album in 2012.

Although Cleary displays an affinity with the waves, his feet are firmly on the ground. “It’s not that I don’t want fame, I’m just not prepared to give up what I love. I don’t think I would like to be that big, that I’m just an icon, an advertisement. I always want to be the guy who plays music. I don’t need a pop song; it’s not about money.”

NewsFour asked Cleary about his songwriting. “I write for myself. My songs are my story. They are very real to life. They are raw. It’s nice to be able to write a song and for someone to come up after a gig and say, ‘I know what you mean by that’.”

Cleary spoke about a video that was shot on the Dublin hills. “I like going up and looking over what we have.” The city was the stage for much of Cleary’s writing fodder, though he found removing himself from it to be the key to expression.

“I lived on an island in Mayo for a year; just needed to get away from Dublin and all that madness that was going on everywhere. It was amazing to reflect on myself. I wrote a lot of songs while I was there and it helped me to get over it.” These lyrics from Waves sum up the experience: ‘Six months of dust clog up my thoughts. The air will clean out my head’.

The pre-launch tour will bring him to Belfast and Zurich before the EP debut Love Lost Hope in the Unitarian Church at Stephen’s Green on April 11th. This venue was specifically selected for its acoustics and the tickets are selling fast.

Cleary connects to his audience through realism and honesty, singing in his native accent with an open soul. He is heading for the crest of the wave. Make sure you are on the boat. This is not one to miss.

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By Maria Shields O’Kelly