Having grown up in Belfast, where she wrote songs with her brother to perform busking, eventually forming the band ‘Southern’, Lucy Gaffney‘s life has been steeped in music since an early age.
These days, Gaffney has settled in Liverpool where she’s pursuing a solo career, though one in which she still works closely with her brother. She’s won plenty of acclaim from RTE for her single ‘Send Me Away’, and elsewhere for her enthralling cover songs, not least from Liam Gallagher for her version of Oasis classic ‘Songbird’.
I caught up with Lucy to talk it all over…
Congrats on your new single. I believe you’ve been getting quite a lot of play on RTE. How does that kind of attention feel to you?
I can’t believe the response the track’s had, it’s such a great feeling to know it’s resonating with people. The support’s been really lovely
Can you tell me a little bit about the story behind the single?
I wrote it mid rehearsal with the band, I guess I was in kind of a romantic headspace. I felt like the vocals and lyrics should wash in and out of the guitars and the track should chug along like a force pushing you forward with a wall of sounds.
The ethos of ‘Send Me Away’ is a dreamlike state of mind, you’re daydreaming about someone you want and kind of know they’re no good for you, but the thrill of being together and reconnecting is intoxicating. I recorded it in Parr Street Studios in Liverpool with James Skelly straight after I made ‘Can’t Escape’ last summer.
Did you find it strange releasing music into the current situation, especially debut music?
Yeah, I was pretty hesitant with it at first when I released ‘Can’t Escape’. But I kind of figured, y’know I’ve never seen most of my favourite bands play live, so in a way, it’s taught me to adapt and push myself to play online, which is something I found really daunting before.
Now I kind of love the idea that if I’m quickly writing a tune I can just quickly video it to show people and they can casually listen from the other side of the world even though we’re both just chilling in our bedrooms. It’s sort of put the control back into the artist’s hands in terms of how they want to represent themselves. I know that when we can properly gig again it’s gonna be so incredible though.
How did you come to music, and what’s your background like as a musician?
I think I’ve been living and breathing music since I was a little kid. Music and arts pretty much all I think about most days. I started playing the piano when I was 7 and was in the choir at school so learnt to harmonise pretty early. After my brother learnt the guitar at 15 we used to sing together and go busking in Belfast for pocket money, we didn’t really know any covers so just wrote tunes.
It went from there really, and when I turned 19 we moved between London and Liverpool in a band called ‘Southern’ together. We still write and produce together but we do two separate projects because our styles are pretty different now.
What caused Southern to break up, and yourself and Thom to go down your own roads?
We’d been in a record deal that we didn’t like and after doing some pretty heavy tours, my brother got pretty unwell with Crohn’s. We just decided to take some time to ourselves and figure out what it was we actually wanted from music. We went home to Ireland and started to write and record again in our studio. Now we’re both releasing our new music and still produce a lot of it together.
What have you taken with you from the experience with Southern – apart from your brother, obviously! – that you feel you can use now as a solo artist?
Just totally being sure on what music I love making now, and the style that’s natural to me. Knowing how to be honest with yourself when you write is important.
You have a quote from Liam Gallagher in your press pack, which is always an attention grabber. How did that come about?
When lockdown started I did a cover of ‘Songbird’ in my garden, one of my favourite Oasis’ tunes, it’s really ‘John Lennon’ which I love. I just put it up on Twitter one afternoon and it went kind of viral within a few hours, by the evening it somehow got to Liam Gallagher, pretty crazy
How is life in Liverpool, compared to Belfast, when it comes to making music?
I think Liverpool as a city makes it more accessible to be a musician. There’s an abundance of rehearsal studios and venues, it’s super easy to be a brand new artist there because there’s always ‘music nights’ on for any genre of musician.
Don’t get me wrong, Belfast is awesome for gigging and some of my best shows have been there, but I think Liverpool’s one of the best city’s to find your feet when developing your sound. It was for me anyway.
How far on are you with songwriting – do you have the guts of an album yet, for example?
I’ve done nothing but write during this and my songs are becoming a lot more raw and personal feeling, there’s far more of ‘me’ in the way that I write now which is cool. I’m working with two awesome producers currently on my newest tunes. I can’t really say who at the minute, but let’s just say, by next year there’s definitely gonna be some cool stuff to listen to. There’s enough material for an album but we’ll see how next year pans out
What are your hopes for the future?
I definitely wanna have my first album released, that’s for sure, and I want it to really feel like ‘my’ sound that people haven’t really gotten to see yet. Most of all I want to tour the world, I wanna play all the festivals and get that experience with my band. There’s nothing like it