New York City remains to be a cultural mecca; a hub of creativity that attracts newcomers constantly. Irish born singer-songwriter Sorcha Richardson is such a human, but what sets her apart isn't just her voice, but how she aims to utilize it.

Richardson has a knack for painting honest pictures for her listeners, and aims to be both direct and elusive in how she presents her experiences. A powerful talent for someone to master so early in their career. We sent Ken Grand-Pierre to find out how NYC has shaped Richardson's songwriting and to find out what the world can expect from this emerging talent.

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Cheers for taking the time to chat Sorcha. First thing, when did you first move to NYC? How old were you?

I moved to New York six years ago when I was 18.

I came to NYC myself at age 17, and looking back now it's quite mental how the expectations differed from the actual experiences. That must be even starker of a contrast when you're a musician. When did you begin to notice that the New York you were living in was different from the New York you dreamed of?

I think I had a very romanticized view of New York before I moved here. I'd been here twice before, each time just for a few days, so I didn't know the city very well. I thought that I would arrive and find a community of musicians to write and play with, but that didn't happen right away.

I was living in a college dorm in the east village, studying writing, so I was surrounded by a lot of creative people - writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers - but it took me a while to find musicians I wanted to work with.

Was music already something you found yourself deep into prior to moving here?

I started playing guitar when I was ten and started writing songs as soon as I could play a few chords. I started playing the drums when I was eleven and that became my main instrument, playing in a few bands throughout school right until I moved to New York.

I was writing songs that whole time too but that was quite a private thing for me. I never saw myself as a singer so I didn't really sing them for anyone and they just kind of existed either in notebooks or in my head.

I had this idea that I would to move to New York and start a band and I would be the drummer and we would play some of the songs that I'd written. But when I got here I didn't meet that many musicians right away. I also didn't have my drum kit with me so I started playing guitar and piano more and writing more songs. Eventually I had all of these songs that wanted people to hear so I decided to try and sing them myself.

What was the first song you wrote after you moved here?

I don't remember if it was the first song I wrote after moving here, but there's one I worked on in the first few months that feels like the most significant of that time. Right after starting college I found out that one of the guys in the dorm was a producer so I sent him some demos and we recorded some stuff in a little DIY setup he had in his room. There was one track that we worked on together that only had a chorus and a bridge, no verses, but we were so excited about it that we sent it to all of our friends and then it just kind of spread around the dorm. I would be at parties and it would come on the speakers or I'd be sitting out on the street in front of the building and hear it coming from someone's bedroom. That was so exciting for me at the time.

Did living here and interacting with locals end up informing the way you wrote songs after a while?

I always feel really inspired and creative when I'm in a new environment. I don't know if interacting with the locals specifically informed the way I wrote but New York features a lot, lyrically, in many of my songs. That's also true of Dublin and LA and the songs I've written there.

Do you feel your songs have been more influenced by experiences you've had with people or by experiences you've had with yourself? I bring that up because NYC is full of people yet one of the loneliest and introspective places you can be in.


I think both. A lot of my songs are almost like conversations with myself. They're my way of working out ideas or emotions I that have. Other songs are more like conversations that I wish I had, or that I should have had with other people but didn't; things that I don't know how to express in life. I used to be a lot more abstract and cryptic with my lyrics and try to disguise the thing that I was writing about, but I don't do that so much anymore.

What was it like going back to Ireland for the first time after living here? Did you notice any differences in who you are?

I remember going back to Dublin for the summer after my first year in New York and feeling completely at odds with the change of pace. Life had been so hectic that first year in New York and I didn't really know what to do when I came home. I did play my first Dublin show that summer at a music night that my friends were running. It was at a venue in Dublin called Twisted Pepper. I was absolutely terrified but I'm don't know if I would have had the courage to do the gig if I hadn't spent the previous year in New York, so consistently out of my comfort zone.

I've noticed that you've played loads at Rockwood, is that your favourite room to perform in and what was it like when you were last there?

I like playing at Rockwood because they have a piano there and it's a venue that suits both stripped-back solo sets as well as full band shows. Last time I played there was in June, a couple weeks after 'Petrol Station' came out. There were a lot of people there and we just played a ton of new songs. It was a fun gig.

It's fucking grand of you to have Phil Taggert premiere one of your tracks! He's a close mate of mine, and something I admire about him is he fiercely puts on tracks that he truly believes in. Do you still feel a sense of a rush when a track of yours is played on the radio or TV?

Yes, that was so good of Phil to play the track! I've discovered a lot of new music through his shows so it was really cool to have him play one of mine. That stuff is definitely still exciting for me.

It's just cool to have something start out as a small idea in my head, just a few random sentences, then for that develop into a full song and find its way onto a platform like BBC Radio 1. It's a nice vote of confidence.

What's the story behind 'Petrol Station'? How did that tune come together?

I wrote it last spring when I was walking home from my friends place late one night on what felt like the first warm day after that really cold winter in New York. They lived on a street in Brooklyn next to three petrol stations and I'd use them as my landmarks whenever I was going to their place. It started lashing rain as I was walking home and I started writing the lyrics in my head.

By the time I got home I had the lyrics of the whole first verse written, and I stayed up for hours, playing chord progressions on a little keyboard, trying to fit it to music. Once I had most the song written, I reached out to Baile, a Brooklyn based producer who's a friend of a friend, and he helped out with the production.

I guess it's just a song about friendship and the nuances of some of my relationships with my friends.

Being part of the 'music world' for years becomes quite a task as you change as a person; it's only natural really. Do you feel your goals as a musician have changed over time and if so, how so?

I think my goals are always evolving. Things that once seemed out of reach become achievable. As I reach specific goals I set my sights on new ones. But ultimately the main goal has always been the same and that is to make music that I'm proud of and that I'm excited to show my friends.

Lastly, what's your favourite NYC venue to watch a show in and what's been your favourite show that you've attended in NYC so far?

I'm not sure what my favourite venue is. I used to go to Glasslands quite a bit before it closed down and I've seen some good ones at Cameo Gallery. In terms of best show that I've seen, Laura Marling at St. Ann's church in Brooklyn, Lykke Li at Radio City Music Hall and Stevie Wonder in Central Park were probably my favourite three. They all felt very special.


You can visit Sorcha Richardson by heading here.