Marc O’Reilly Interview
Troubadour: a French medieval lyric poet composing and singing in Provençal in the 11th to 13th centuries, especially on the theme of courtly love. Synonyms minstrel, singer, balladeer, poet; a poet who writes verse to music.
This is the literal explanation of the word troubadour. A wandering, romantic poet travelling from town to town singing from his soul, on a somewhat lonesome journey in the name of love’s melody. Ironic that its origins are French, similar to that of Lismore’s latest troubadour Marc O’Reilly. From French and Irish parenthood Marc illustrates the most refined aspects of musical and lyrical compositions in his inimitable bluesy, folksy, whiskey whispering style.
The youngest of five, Marc’s mother is a French, from a country town outside Nantes in Brittany, his father from Fermoy. Music presented itself into Marc’s early life as his Dad and uncle had their own folk rock band called “The Loudest Whisper”. He recalls memories of his nine year old self protesting against piano lessons, getting his hands on his first guitar.
The nine year old grew up. He’s now on his second album “Human Herdings”. For an emerging artist, there’s quite a list of achievements. His first album “My Friend Marx” is well received Americana, lashed with roosty folk flavouring and Marc’s own inimitable guitar style. The title track has velvet vocals akin to Ray Lamtonagne or Newton Faulkner with a sparking strings arrangement that wraps itself in luxury. The arrangement, he reveals, happened with a little help from his brother Pierre who has a Masters in Composotion for Screen. At the time Pierre was working in Cork and had access to a wealth of classical musicians who contributed to the song. The two brothers then decided to release a concoction of electro pop in their side project “R”. “Change” the single, was welcomed onto the airwaves by Steve Lamacq, Janice Long and Paul McCloone. Marc has supported Jake Bugg, done Glastonbury and Electric Picnic. He’s found himself in the company of Jamie Cullum, in Maida Vale. He has been played generously by Mr. Cullum on his BBC Radio 2 show.
“Human Herdings” sees Marc evolve into what he calls a more mature collection of songs. He was more certain of his songs he states, having recorded the tracks backwards. Laying guitars, then vocals then drums then bass. He reckons the backward dynamics work better within the studio environment. His real love though, is taking it on the road. He’s clocked up considerable mileage in Troubadour years. He has “toured his ass off” in his own words. Territories covered include North America, the UK and Europe. Sighting his personal influences as early Fleetwood Mac, Joni Mitchell, indie band Silent Lamb and Kings of Leon Marc’s stand out band are Pearl Jam. Unusual you might think, for a folksy, bluegrassy, smoked up gravelly voiced half French, half Fermoy boy from Lismore. Well, if you want to see the troubadour for yourself you can catch Marc and his selection of guitars in The Academy 2 on Sat 7th June. Support will come from The Hard Ground and Darragh.
Interview by Ciara Sheahan