Six years ago Orla Gartland began posting acoustic covers on her self-titled YouTube channel like many other young musicians. Today, that same channel has surpassed eleven million views. This winter, Orla released her second EP, Lonely People, toured Ireland and the United Kingdom, and is touring North America for the first time this spring.
The nineteen-year-old singer-songwriterfrom Dublin, Ireland is one of the increasing number of musicians to become famous on the internet.The self-described“music makin’ ginger weirdo”is well known for her passionate facial expressions while giving an even more passionate performance on acoustic or electric guitar. A quick glance through her YouTube videos reveal Orla’s growth throughout the years. “Is there anything I don’t put on the internet?!” she says.
Orla released her debut single, Devil on my Shoulder, to iTunes in 2012. Then, in November of 2013, Orla released her first EP, titled, Roots.The track hit number one on the Irish albums chart and number two on the United States singer/songwriter chart.
“[I] can’t believe that was over a year ago,” says Orla, when asked how her life has changed since Roots was released.“I’ve since moved over to London where I’ve been writing songs almost every day for a year. I get to tour too – that’s been nuts! I guess on the whole, music for me has shifted from something on the side to something I do almost every day. I absolutely love it.”
At this point, Orla is no stranger to playing venues in the UK and Ireland, but during March 2015, Orla will be touring North America for the first time, right after spending the month of February touring the UK and Ireland to promote her new EP, Lonely People, which was released on January 18, 2015.
Orla’s North American tour starts in Toronto, Canada, and concludes in Los Angeles, California. She’ll be headlining a total of seven shows in Canada and the United States, and in the middle of the tour, the singer-songwriter will be playing at the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas – along with just under a thousand musicians from around the world.
“I’m still such a touring newbie, really, but as odd as it sounds, I love the routine of it all!” says Orla, who insists that routine is golden. “Even though you’re moving from city to city, the format of each day is roughly the same: Travel, load in, soundcheck, play show, meet everyone, load out, sleep. So few aspects of music and other freelance jobs have that daily structure; oddly it’s something I often miss about school.”
After the release of Lonely People, Orla posted on her Facebook page, saying that the EP was charting in the top 10 alternative iTunes albums in Holland, Germany, Ireland and the UK. In fact, the EP went on the hit number one on the alternative charts in the United States and Ireland.
Lonely Peopleis a four track EP and a true testament to Orla’s growth since the oldest video on her YouTube channel, a cover of Beyoncé’s Halo.Through the EP, Orla strikes a balance between folk and pop with layers of sounds. Her voice is wonderfully raw, yet her songs are polished.
The opening song, Lonely People, kicks off the EP on a high note. The track begs for head bopping and foot tapping, and the initial sound of the song is vaguely reminiscent of the band, The 1975. The second song, Souvenirs, feels similar to the first in its blending of sounds and the themes that both songs explore. The EP slows down with Whispers, the third track. During the first verse, Orla’s Irish accent comes through, adding beautiful character to the end of an emotional verse. The EP closes with Get Back, where melancholy words are juxtaposed against a pop track, which truly makes the most of Orla’s voice and talent.
A hidden fifth track is available for listeners who purchased the EP. To get the acoustic song, Zoo, listeners have to take a screenshot of the Lonely Peoplein their iTunes Library and email the screenshot to firstname.lastname@example.org. According to posts on Orla’s social media accounts, there is no other way to access this song.“The song will never be up on YouTube, Spotify, or any other corner of the interweb,” says Orla.
As busy as the popular ginge has been recently, Orla does more than just write and perform her own music. Like any nineteen-year-old, sheenjoys catching up onher hobbies and supporting her friends.
“I love to draw – if and when I pursue a degree I’d choose graphic design,” says Orla. “Apart from that though, so many of my friends are musicians themselves that on nights off I find myself at other peoples’ gigs! It’s nice to switch off and be in the audience for once. I started off in music very much as a fan of tons of bands and musicians and I still find it important to retain that sense of being on the other side of it all.”
In that same vain of humility, Orla offers her advice to other young women who are aspiring musicians. “Stick to your guns stylistically,” she says. “What I mean by that is, when you’ve written songs and it’s time to start recording and releasing them, trust your gut about how everything should look and sound. Advice from well-meaning friends and family is always good, but don’t be swayed by trends. If you’re doing your own thing and loving it, people will flock to you in time!”
Lonely People is available for instant download on iTunes, and tickets to her tour are available here.
Published in the Spring 2015 issue of FLURT Magazine.