Liverpool-based Belfast singer-songwriter Lucy Gaffney told David Hennessy about being tipped for big things by several Irish industry bibles and media outlets, how good it was to get playing again before Christmas even if there was no crowd and why she sometimes writes her best stuff when she is stressed at 2am in the morning.
Hot Press say, “Lucy Gaffney has emerged as one of the country’s most promising indie-pop prospects” while including her on their ‘Hot for 2021’ list of acts of watch.
Her single Send Me Away was made track of the week on RTE breakfast with Doireann Garrihy & Eoghan Mc Dermott while Golden Plec have made her one of their ‘Picks for 2021’.
Lucy has even earned the attention of former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher who called her cover of Songbird ‘celestial’.
Exciting things are happening for Liverpool-based Belfast singer-songwriter Lucy Gaffney.
Lucy told The Irish World it is easy to forget her music is finding an audience due to the isolation we are living in: “It is kind of crazy because we live in this little bubble in this lockdown scenario.
“I write most of my music at night time so I’m up in the middle of the night writing loads of new tunes and I kind of feel like no one knows what I’m up to.
“Then all of a sudden these big articles come out saying hotly tipped for this year and stuff so it is kind of crazy because it feels like the world is on hold but then I kind of almost have this jittering sensation that something’s coming for next year.
“It’s the same for every writer. You’re generally writing for yourself.
“I think everyone’s excited for next year. Hopefully by the end of this year we’ll be back gigging and stuff. I’m hoping to play Eurosonic next year. That’s the goal. I think everyone’s planning their tours at the moment for next year.”
Lucy is missing being able to play live gigs but says that playing a streamed show from The Workman’s Club in Dublin has made up for the absence of shows to some extent.
“At Christmas I was able to do a live gig at the Workman’s Club in Dublin and I had another live session before the lockdown hit again on Boxing Day so I got a fill of some sort of normality.
“Even the guys who were filming the live session were saying, ‘It almost feels normal doing this, it feels great’.
“It was just such a pleasure to play with the band. It was honestly just the best thing.
“I think because I did that, I feel a little bit better.
“It was almost like being in Whelan’s or something doing your soundcheck, it was great.
“There were four people watching and then just the three of us playing but it kind of felt like a gig in a way because you were speaking to an audience, a hypothetical audience, into the camera which is slightly nerve racking.
“Then all the songs are completely new so it was nice to even just get a bit of feedback. It was also good to be back in a pub even though there was no drinking or anything,” she laughs.
“It was so great being back in Dublin. It was so nice getting into the city and everything was open then which was nice but we didn’t actually get to stop and have a Guinness. I wish we had now.
“I’ve been writing quite a lot the last couple of weeks just because I felt quite inspired just because I’ve been moving around a good bit. A change of scenery always makes a bit of a spark.
“I think I have personally been alright but I’m really looking forward to gigging. It’s just been frustrating because I have so much new material and I think it will be so great to play it live with a full band but there’s no chance of that happening yet.
“I feel like I’m happy enough to just take my guitar and go on tour, jump on the tour bus. I wouldn’t care where I was or who I was playing to. I actually get such a pleasure out of just being able to play my songs even if it’s just for myself,” she laughs.
Lucy released her debut single Can’t Escape in April last year but the pandemic prevented her from following it up with Send Me Away until October. However, that is not to say she was idle. She plugged the gap in between with an EP of covers that included that version of Songbird that Liam liked so much.
Although her covers were well received, is it infinitely more satisfying to now see her original music being commended? “Yeah, it is.
“I like writing pop melodies but I like putting dark lyrics behind them and having hidden meanings in songs.
“Because I’m so used to playing with other musicians and in bands you often ask yourself, ‘Is a guitar and your voice enough for the song to stay interesting?’
“I put out a version of one of my songs online called Locked Up Never Fade which isn’t really the finished song and it’s not the finished arrangement but the response I got from it was so amazing.
“You assume people only want happy things most of the time or they want your big pop songs but I’m going to be really interested to see how people take to that kind of darker, more raw side to my music without hiding away behind big guitars and pop melodies.
“You write in stress, you write just to kind of be able to moan almost sometimes. Rather than moaning to someone, you get to be completely self-indulgent and sit in your own emotions, dwell in them, put it down and then you can listen to it the next day and go, I’m glad I felt like that that night’.
“Basically, the best songs I’ve written have come out of a two minute voice note that I’ve recorded at 2am when I’ve been on my own at 2am.
“As soon as the moment strikes and you feel like you wanna play, you do write some of your best stuff.
“I would actually love to put out a lot of stuff that’s really raw because that’s the kind of music I like listening to. I like to hear the person behind the song but the response just from what I’ve been putting out recently is incredible.”
Also still very young, Lucy has a wealth of performing experience. When she was 15, she started busking on the streets of Belfast with her brother Thom.
Performing under the moniker Southern, the siblings would relcoate to London and find themselves sharing the stage with people like Jake Bugg and Pete Doherty.
They would take a break when Thom contracted a rare autoimmune disorder. However, it wouldn’t keep them out for long as the family members returned with their new incarnation MMode.
The siblings still work together with Thom recording and playing on a lot of Lucy’s tracks while also working on his own material.
“We write together so much. As a songwriter, it’s more fun to collaborate with people a lot of the time and Thom has learned how to use a lot of equipment in terms of recording and stuff.
“So for us living together, it’s so easy for us to pick up the guitar, turn on the microphone and press record. He’s such a good guitarist as well. I have him at my disposal in a way. It’s such a good thing to have: Another musician who can really get your style and get your sound.
“We’ve always really conferred with each other on the way the songs are going. Sometimes I guess you have to ask other musicians. You don’t want to ask for advice but they can see you almost better than you see yourself.
“It’s like an art exhibition putting a new song out, ‘Is your painting any good?’
“Me and my brother record pretty much everything in our apartment so at this point I’m sitting with an album’s worth of stuff that isn’t out that is really the real representation of my sound and more influenced by what I’ve been listening to at the minute, a bit more raw and personal.
“I feel like I’m only now discovering my sound. Even when I was doing MMode, I was basically writing my earliest version of what I’m doing now.
“It’s been a nice smooth transition into what I’m doing now and I love it. I don’t have any insecurites about what I do now.
“There’s going to be a lot more stuff to come. This year is going to be my year to experiment. I’m really looking forward to seeing what people think.
“Apart from that I think my big touring year will be 2022.”
Send Me Away is out now.
For more information, search Lucy Gaffney music on Facebook.