London- based singer- songwriter Aislinn Logan told David Hennessy about her single which hints at Irish myth and folklore while also written with her late mother and cousin in mind.
Aislinn Logan has released her latest single Tír na nÓg (The Other Side) ahead of her debut album to be released 3 November 2023.
Logan was recently honoured to tour with CMAT, supporting her across the recent sold out European, UK, and Ireland dates, and has recently shared the stage with Imelda May for Bloomsday celebrations in London.
Based on the most famous story in Irish mythology, the new single began as an ode to a faraway best friend and took on deeper meaning when Aislinn lost her mother and close cousin in quick succession.
Aislinn told The Irish World: “I’ve been quite pleased with the reception.”
It’s a personal song for you, isn’t it? “Yeah, it is.
“It kind of started out as something very different from what it ended up.
“I started writing it in lockdown and I think that probably comes across in the lyrics.
“I was feeling frustrated with the fact that I was so far away from my best pal.
“I was just feeling quite nostalgic about good times really.
“I suppose that was the initial writing process.
“My mum passed away in February last year and then my cousin died quite suddenly a couple of months after that, so it became about something else in some ways.
“It’s still about both things, I guess.
“It’s really about love and loss.
“But death is very much the theme of it.
“And I guess growing up Tír na nÓg was one of the standout stories that we were sort of told.
“But of course, the irony is that Tír na nÓg is also synonymous in Ireland to mean heaven or the other side.
“So it kind of grew arms and legs in terms of meaning and a few of the lyrics I adapted later on in the process.
“But that’s essentially where it all came from.
“But I guess I haven’t lived at home now for ten years and the passing of my mum was a big moment for me in obviously so many ways but also in terms of my Irishness and my connection with home because I would go back to see my mum at least once a month. I was back and forth to Belfast constantly.
“She was ill for quite some time and so I was kind of going back and looking after her, trying to do my best, I suppose.
“When you live in London, that can be tricky.
“But her passing marks the loss of that physical connection to home. My dad lives in Scotland.
“So it’s as much an ode to Ireland and that connection with my identity as it is to those people I’ve lost.”
It must have been difficult suffering two family bereavements so close together..
“Yeah, it was only a matter of three months or so.
“Last year was pretty much survival mode to be honest.
“I actually had a lot of music that I had finished and had written but things like that happen and you just go into survival mode.
“Wasn’t a great time.
“Wasn’t a super productive time for music for sure.”
You say your cousin died suddenly..
“Yeah, it was a big shock. He was type one diabetic so that is essentially what happened.
“He went to sleep and didn’t wake up.
“I actually ran a half marathon in his memory a few months ago. Me and his brother Michael, and a bunch of our friends, we all went to Latvia to run for JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in his memory around his birthday.
“And we raised a whole load of money.
“Everybody was super generous.
“That was a nice thing to do for him, but obviously quite emotional.
“When I would release my music, Nick would have always listened to it and he would have taken a photo of his dashboard with the song on his sound system in his car and he would have been just really hyped up about it.
“I missed that this time around.”
Aislinn speaks about losing her mother and her cousin but it would be wrong to think that Tír na nÓg (The Other Side) is a downbeat song.
“It’s also a very hopeful song I like to think.
“I guess it kind of made sense for me to do that because I think both of them in their own ways would want that.
“And that’s sort of what I want to try and take from the whole shite experience is trying to retain hope in a place where you lose all of that hope.
“I think hope is a completely necessary part of being alive.
“And last year, that really just dissolved for a long time.
“But this song, I suppose, embodies maybe regaining a little bit of that.”
And now you’re in a much better place we hope… “Yeah, 100%: Much better place and feeling much more myself.”
Tír na nÓg (The Other Side) gives listeners their first taste of Aislinn’s debut album Carry Me in from the Car which is due later this year.
“I’m so buzzing. I’m really, really excited.”
Anyone who was at the recent Bloomsday celebration at Embassy Gardens would have heard Aislinn explain what the title means, it is about being a child after a long journey and feeling that safety of being carried in.
“It is that nod to that feeling of safety and security and maybe learning how to find that in your life as an adult.
“Because I feel like I have found that and I’ve figured that out now but I didn’t necessarily know that for quite a while.
“And I guess it’s about sort of closing the chapter maybe on that part of your life and thinking back to a lot of the things you went through and things you learned.”
What other themes do you deal with on the album? “Coming of age, learning to feel more comfortable in your own skin.
“And, again, love and loss and death, and hopelessness.
“It feels like the full spectrum of emotions, lots and lots of different things.
“Also, a defiance of some of those things as well- I hope that comes across on the record. I guess, turning things around a bit for yourself.”
You say the album has a lot of joy and some darkness, in what way does it get dark? “I feel like the lyrics will sort of speak for themselves but my mum was ill for a very long time. She was ill for most of my life and I sort of became her parent in many ways when I was very young, much too young.
“And so that has been a formative experience in my life so far and that role reversal and also trying to, I suppose, save someone as well, that’s a big theme on the album.
“I’m also trying to balance that with the privacy of my mum and what she went through so it’s a delicate thing to strike.
“But it has been a huge part of my life is caring for someone who was very ill and unfortunately, didn’t make it in the end.
“That is a huge theme but I think hopefully the main theme that people will take away from the album is a sense of overcoming some of those things.
“For a very long time, I was trying to save somebody and that was, for a big part of my life, one of my main purposes for living.
“And now she’s not here anymore so I’ve also been coming to terms with not having that purpose anymore.
“And that’s something I’ve been learning, to sort of live for myself now and live my own life and try to make my own way without that context.”
You work a day job as well as your music, do you have understanding employers? What do they say when you ask for time off to tour with CMAT? “Yeah, they were great.
“I basically went to them and I was like, ‘Look, I really want to do this thing. I want three weeks’ unpaid leave, can you give it to me?’
“And they were like, ‘Yep, sounds good. Let us know how the tour goes’.
“They were super supportive’.”
And how did the tour go? How did you enjoy it? “Oh, it was incredible, amazing.
“I loved every second of it. She’s unbelievable.
“She’s just such an enigma but she’s also just an extremely kind person.
“It was incredibly lovely of her to invite me along on that tour, we went all over Europe.
“We played to sold out crowds in Berlin and Stockholm and Copenhagen.
“It was just an incredible experience.”
Another honour you had- and we were there to see it- was sharing the stage with Imelda May and others at the recent Bloomsday celebrations, how did you enjoy that? “Yeah, it was amazing.
“She’s lovely. She’s incredible. And oh my god, that voice: She’s amazing.
“She had that crowd in the palm of her hand and for good reason.
“She’s an artist who obviously has been beating on her craft for years and she’s very, very good.
“It was an amazing day, loved it. Loads of pals came down and it was just a lovely sunny summer’s day and it was so lovely to be able to sing up into the sky and it was just a great vibe. Really enjoyed it.”
It was great to see the Irish creatives in London really coming together, you’ve been in London eight years now and it’s been quite the journey, hasn’t it? “Yeah, I mean it’s been over a decade now since I’ve lived in Ireland which is kind of crazy to me and I do find that quite sad.
“But I’ve been told I have not lost my accent which I’m happy about.
“I’d be worried if I had. I would be going home and my pals would not be too happy with me.”
Do you get home much? “I don’t really have a reason to go back- I do have lots of friends there and I do have family there but I don’t have my mum there anymore.
“I would have been back every month and now maybe back two or three times a year which is again a little bit sad but it’s just the way it is. You know: Weddings, deaths, funerals, babies.”
Going back home for any weddings soon? “Yeah, we’re getting married next May.
“We’re getting married in Ireland.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to get married anywhere else. There’s nothing like an Irish wedding.
“No one knows how to do it like the Irish when it comes to things like that.
“So we’re going home. That will be nice.”
Openly gay, Aislinn will be marrying another woman.
She has told The Irish World before about where Northern Ireland has lagged behind mainland UK and southern Ireland in terms of civil rights.
Do you see any improvement there? “Yeah, I would say so. I think I’m probably not as reliably informed as someone who lives there now.
“I think I should admit that. But we do now have equal marriage which I don’t think we did have the last time you and I spoke.
“And I think there’s still a lot of work to do when it comes to women’s rights and abortion rights, for instance. But there has been progress made, which I think is good, albeit slow.
“But Northern Ireland hasn’t had a sitting government now for years. A devolved assembly. It’s been years and years.
“It’s just shocking.
“So I think for that reason people are really suffering over there in terms of some of the things just not being enacted the way they should be. I think Westminster is obviously calling all the shots because they don’t have a devolved assembly.
“And that must be incredibly frustrating because, in all frankness, what the hell does Westminster know about what Belfast needs or Derry needs or Strabane?
“I think there has been progress made albeit slow progress.”
The Irish World spoke to Aislinn on the very day of Sinead O’Connor’s funeral.
“It’s just incredibly sad,” Aislinn says about her sad passing.
“It’s just heartbreaking.
“I think what she has been through in the past year, year and a bit with her son Shane tragically passing away- It’s just an awfully tragic end to the story. But I think she moved the dial in a way nobody else did in Ireland.
“And I think that every woman in Ireland should be indebted to the work that Sinead O’Connor did for such a long time, the things that she said and did, she really put her neck out for what was right in a time when it was extremely difficult to do so.
“And she suffered a lot of criticism and a lot of blowback for doing so.
“But she was an incredible artist, amazing artist.
“I think it’s a very sad that the story has ended this way, but there’s so much we can learn from her. And there’s so much I think that Irish women are indebted to her for.”
Tír na nÓg (The Other Side) is out now.
The album Carry Me in from the Car is out in November.
For more information, click here.