Orla Gartland’s a really charismatic, sort-of-new singer songwriter whose newest release is low-key rumbler I Go Crazy. It’s out this week — she made it with collaborators The Usual Suspects, the newly-formed production duo consisting of La Roux’s Ben Langmaid and Sean Genockey.
There’s a great line in the song about being on “the edge of 22” which you will be 0% surprised to hear was inspired by Stevie Nicks. “There’s an undeniable Edge Of Seventeen influence,” Orla tells Popjustice. “Although I’d like to think I avoided stealing the groove completely…” Orla adds that there’s a ‘What would Stevie do?’ poster in the studio, which partly inspired the line. “I mean the real answer to ‘what would Stevie Nicks do?’ is probably a fat line of cocaine, but that’s not as interesting as writing a song is it?”
Orla’s from Dublin (Grafton Street is now full of busking Ed Sheeran wannabes, she notes) but she’s been living in Ealing for two years, and if you’re not well-acquainted with London let’s just say Ealing isn’t exactly where popstars tend to live. “I knew I wasn’t cool enough for east London,” is Orla’s explanation. “And I’ll never be cool enough. I know that. I look at it like this: I can either be the least cool person in east London, or be within the top three cool people on one specific road in Ealing.”
If you search Orla on Spotters you’ll find a couple of earlier EPs: the first is quite ‘real music’ so approach with caution but the second, 2016’s Shapeshifting, is a bit more electronic. Listen quickly, though, because Orla’s thinking of taking her old stuff down. “It’s the most pretentious thing to do and an entirely selfish move,” she smiles, although we’re on the phone so she might not be smiling, but she says it in a smiley way so let’s not think too hard about this whole thing. “But we all feel like we’re getting better at the things we do, don’t we? At the same time, though, if I like someone’s new song and see their older stuff online, and it’s not as good as the new stuff, sometimes I think: ‘Well, you’ve been working at this a long time, so fair play.'”
So she might take the old stuff down or she might not. She has not yet decided. In any case it’s the new stuff that’s important here. Orla’s at Waterloo Station when we speak; she’s waiting for a train to take her to the studio. We end up talking about spooky robot-gloved pop wizard Imogen Heap who, Orla declares, is really cool. “She has her own studio, she lives in a lighthouse and Taylor Swift wants to make music with her,” she adds, but that whole lighthouse thing just sums up Imogen Heap, doesn’t it? How would you even put shelves up?
“It’s architecturally difficult,” Orla concedes.
Realistically, the only way you could put a shelf on a curved wall would be to attach it vertically, and then everything would just fall off.
“You’re putting me off the lighthouse idea now,” Orla eventually says. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
Well think on, Orla Gartland. Think on.
- Given three minutes to cook dinner Orla would prepare pesto pasta, which might be taking the concept of ‘al dente’ a little far, but that’s what she’d do. She might add some pepper or chicken.
- She thinks Ariana’s new song might be her favourite at the moment. It’s all minor in the chorus and goes major in the verses, she says: “Not something people do in pop very often.”
- Orla tends to prefer sans-serif fonts. Papyrus is her least favourite — it’s a joke font. She has no time at all for Papyrus. “The only time you should use it is if you’re doing a primary school project about Egypt and even then I’d say it’s too obvious a choice.”