Robert O’Connor
Hey guys! Irish singer/songwriter Robert O'Connor is back with his brand new single No Second Chances! The song was premiered exclusively on the blog and it is quite different from his previous single You Found Me

No Second Chances is set to arrive on August 17th and before that I wanted you to get to know him a bit more. I was lucky to have the opportunity to ask him a few questions and here he talks about the inspiration behind this new single, his musical influences and how he'd love to work with Lana Del Rey. Check it out below!

Your brand new single No Second Chances is set to arrive on August 17th. Can you tell us the inspiration behind the song?

It’s a break-up song, the first verse is pre-break-up, the second verse is post-break-up and questioning “can we go back and start again?”, and the mid 8 is kinda despairing and feeling like there’s no-one else in the world for you even though the relationship was less than perfect. The chorus is basically admitting “this is done, but I don’t know if I’m ready to not know you”. It kind of looks at an idea that I’m fascinated with – that you can go from one side of a person’s bed, to passing them by on the street and it’s like you never knew each other – I just find it the weirdest concept. I wrote the song four years ago and I barely remember it because it happened really quickly and the melody and lyrics came at the same time, which is rare for me. I didn’t know it was gonna be a country song, at first I thought it might be a big pop ballad like something you’d hear in the late ‘90s, like Savage Garden, and then I changed the melody to make it a dance track, but nothing felt right – and I always had this desire to make a country record, and once I went back to my original melody and sang it like a country record, I knew it couldn’t be any other way.

Was music part of your life while growing up? What drew you to pursue a music career? 

It was a massive part of my life, for as long as I can remember. I used to sit beside the record player and play my parent’s records – Abba, Bon Jovi, The Bangles, Blondie. I was in paradise, I had no time for TV – and as I got older I’d listen to the records, read the liner notes, I just totally nerded-out on music. When I was five my mam put me into a stage school and while I wasn’t mad on the way they pressured us there, I enjoyed the performances, but it was when I was 8 and went to keyboard lessons that I realized I enjoyed playing music more than dance or drama. There was no pressure, it felt less competitive, it was a purer form of pleasure for me. We moved house a few times when I was a kid and every neighbourhood I moved to I would form a band with kids, and I was the one orchestrating it and pushing it, and arranging the get-togethers to perform in each other’s houses. When I was about 16 I started to find it really difficult to stay focused in school – all I wanted to do was music, I could feel it in my soul what my purpose was in life, so I went to a vocal coach to see if I could sing because I honestly didn’t know if it was something I was capable of doing solo, I was pretty shy. As soon as I got the thumbs-up from the vocal coach, there was no stopping me, I was making demos, and before long, writing my own songs.

Can you tell us what are your musical inspirations and how do they influence the way you make your own music?

My musical taste is dizzying and I’m constantly discovering new acts that inspire me massively – and then there are the core acts that I’ve followed since my teens when my taste was really formed. I would say Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Death Cab For Cutie, Pet Shop Boys, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayer, Dido – those have all been really important acts to me. In the past few years I’ve been really obsessing over dream pop – it relaxes me, it puts me in great mood – so acts like Few Bits, Say Lou Lou, Wild Nothing, Swimming Tapes. I need to get to see some of them live because I would say the way that sound translates live would be an out-of-body experience! Obviously, country is a big influence now too – I’ve been a big fan of Shelby Lynne for a long time, and now I’m getting into all the newer acts, from Sam Hunt and Brett Young to Kacey Musgraves, LANCO and The Shires – there’s a lot of really impressive country music coming out, it’s so well-crafted and catchy. I think ultimately what I’m trying to do with my new music is to tell a bunch of 3 minute stories, and I think that’s what country music has always been about. There was a time pop was about that too, but a lot of what we’re hearing on radio now is very hook-driven and it’s like the story element has been sacrificed. 

Out of the songs you have written so far, which one is your favourite and why?

This is so tough, and it’s not something I’ve ever thought about. I always used to say “How Many Times (Can We Say Goodbye?)” from my first album, but now I think “You Found Me” because it’s so incredibly personal, it’s about that time when I wasn’t making music and really felt like I was losing touch with myself, losing my identity – even when I was happy, or felt like I should have been, there was something missing. I’d get to the end of the year and think “another year, and no new music”, and it sounds dramatic but it would fill me with an indescribable sadness. No matter how much money I would make, or how well things were going, I felt like I was failing and not living the life I was made for. To make a song that I think really nails how I was feeling during that time, and then to come out the other side, gives it the edge over other songs I’ve written.

Is there any particular message you want to convey with your music?

When I listen to music that is self-written by other artists I like to try to decode what they were writing about, but I also think it’s good when they don’t reveal the exact story behind some of their work, because we all superimpose ourselves into the song and take our own meaning from it. So no, there isn’t a message as such – I’m definitely not an agenda pusher or someone who enjoys campaigning for any particular causes. My songs are simple, about relationships and my experience of the world…I think one thing that’s changed with my writing this time around is that I’m writing about more varied subjects, I think when you’re in your late 20’s and early 30’s you are going through a lot of changes and seeing your friends go through things and I’m feeding off that and feeling quite inspired to write about it. I think up until “You Found Me”, all my singles were basically about relationships, and everything I’ve written over the past couple of months hasn’t been about that topic at all. People often say to me “Is that song about me?” and now I say “No, it’s about me!”

Can we expect a full-length album any time soon?

There won’t be an album in 2018. I basically came back to the industry with no expectations, and the goal was purely to record and release these two singles, basically to get it out of my system after years of worrying I’d be left with these unreleased songs that I felt could be my best work and would never be heard! But then “You Found Me” came out and the radio play was great – hearing it on stations in the UK, US, France, Germany, and at home in Ireland was pretty surreal. That barely happened when I hired PR so for it to happen when I was just hustling with this music by myself with absolutely no budget and after a five-year absence was beyond unexpected. Now that I’m an active artist again I don’t want to go back – especially when I read these reviews praising the music and tipping me for good things – if I ran away from it all it’d look a bit odd wouldn’t it? Once “No Second Chances” comes out the next thing is to get out on the live scene and see what the response is there, and play some new songs and see what the reaction is. Though I have started saying “three singles this year would feel just right”, so let’s see if I can make that a reality!

Who would be your dream collaboration?

I’m a bit infatuated with Lana Del Rey, her whole persona and aesthetic and commitment to that Old Hollywood world she has created for her music. I’d like to step into her world and create something really dark and brooding, maybe with a bit of a western feel to it. I’m thinking of the video possibilities with an artist like her too, she’s such a visual artist – and she’s so beautiful to look at too – yeah, that would be the dream. I love that she just creates and is not obsessed with chasing a hit. Even after the remix of “Summertime Sadness” blew-up, she just kept making what she loved, there was no sense of her feeling compelled to change direction, and I love that about her. 

If you were given the chance to pick one artist/band to tour with which one would it be and why?

Coldplay. I think they’re musical geniuses, as much as people like to pass them off as boring. I really don’t care for what’s “cool”. I saw them live last year after being a life-long fan and it didn’t disappoint at all, they owned a stadium, and I don’t think there’s too many who can do that. They’re not afraid to keep changing it up from album to album too, like when they worked with Avicii and made a sort of Coldplay-do-dance record, but it still felt quintessentially Coldplay. If I was on the road with them I’d probably beg them to produce a song for me, and they seem like sound normal lads too, Chris Martin seems especially down to earth given he’s one of the most famous frontmen in the world.

What job do you think you would be doing now if you didn't have your music career?

I’ve had so many jobs in the past few years that I don’t even want to think about doing anything else. I worked as a journalist between my last record and this comeback, and one day my boss called me up and basically said “we have no money to pay you beyond this week”. That happened twice with the same company before I just thought “I can’t do this anymore” and went and worked as a security guard which actually was a refreshing experience just to show up, do your job, and get paid at the end of the week. It was what I needed at the time. While I was doing that I did a course in auctioneering and valuation, and I sell houses part time now and absolutely love it – actually it was my other major interest besides music when I was growing up. So I guess I’d do that full-time if this ended tomorrow, but having a bit of both, as different as they are, seems to be a pretty decent recipe for happiness for me right now.

What was the first album you ever bought?

In the 90s I bought basically all of those ‘Now’ compilation albums, and I had all kinds of tapes of mostly dance music, actually when I think about it that seemed to be what interested me the most during that decade genre-wise. I do remember my mam bringing me to HMV and I had to decide what CD I wanted to buy and I chose Hanson’s ‘Middle of Nowhere’ and I played it to death – I have pangs of nostalgia thinking about that period of ’97-99 when I was really starting to explore music on a new level as a consumer. The ‘90s were a great time, I’d sit around reading music magazines cover to cover while listening to whatever new releases I could get my hands on, it was a time when you’d go out and buy singles, it felt more exciting than it does now, I’m not sure why. I remember buying Steps’ “Last Thing On My Mind” and thinking it was one of the best pop songs I’d ever heard.

What music are you currently listening to?

This week I’m listening to the new All Saints album ‘Testament’ constantly and I think they’ve done an absolutely brilliant job. Before they came back I would listen to their second album from way back and think “there’s unfinished business with this band” and I really think it’s so important that they came back, it’s not based on nostalgia like some comebacks, but actually continuing to create great new music with their distinctive DNA as a band. I’m also listening to an act called Wild Nothing and in particular his album ‘Nocturne’ which is from 2012 and I can’t believe I am only discovering it now, it’s so up my street and I heard it completely by accident on YouTube one day and was hooked. The other record that sticks out for me this year is Charlie Puth’s ‘Voice Notes’ which I think is probably the best pop album this year so far – it’s an immense body of work with a really distinctive sound all of his own that doesn’t embrace any of the production trends of the moment. It has a late ‘80s feel to it which is definitely a flavour that always turns me on. The vocal melodies are infectious, the production is fire, I just can’t fault it at all and I think people don’t realise the force of this guy, I reckon there’s a lot more to come from him.

What is your favourite song of 2018 so far?

I think LANCO’s “Born To Love You” is probably the most perfect song I’ve heard this year. It has the perfect blend of country, pop and rock for my taste. There’s so many little production flourishes and hooks that make me wanna listen to it again and again to see what I else I can hear. For me that’s the basis of a great song – when you listen first it sounds simple and catchy, but over repeated listens you see that there’s a lot going on beneath the surface.