For nearly a whole decade, Irish singer-songwriter Orla Gartland has been organically building her fanbase as an independent artist. After a string of EPs and performing on numerous tours, the Dublin-born star is ready to deliver her debut album, Woman on the Internet.
Those that have followed Gartland’s journey will know that she is no one-trick pony. From bedroom pop to indie rock, she knows how to switch it up while still creating a cohesive body of work. After starting out on YouTube, this young powerhouse is on the rise and there is no stopping her.
During a Zoom call, Gartland tells EUPHORIA. all about the process of making her long-awaited first album, what her favorite tracks are, and what she hopes fans will take away from the record.
After releasing a number of EPs, did you go into the studio knowing you were going to create an album?
Yeah, it was specific this time, definitely. I made an EP in 2019 called Freckled Season and that was my first time co-producing and being really involved in the production side of it. That was with my friend Tom and then at the end of that I did five songs and I was like, I just want it to be longer. So, I called my manager and said I think it’s album time and she agreed. So yeah, it was definitely deliberate.
How long have you felt ready to make an album?
By the last EP, I felt ready. I don’t think I had been before that. Opportunities came up to do things longer before but I just think your gut feeling always really telling. It took me a really long time to get everything in place. It’s not just about being ready, there are lots of boring bits, having the right team around you, are you going to release it through a label, I wanted to have my band so solid. Being ready was a feeling but was also a lot of those things boxes being ticked as well.
Had you been contemplating releasing your album on a label or did you just know that wasn’t for you?
I kind of flirted with the idea for a moment and got kind of close but I just didn’t want to. I’m not afraid of hard work and that’s what I knew the independent thing was going to be so it was a little bit daunting at the beginning because there is so much admin and boring shit involved rather than rocking up, and doing music and handing it off. I don’t take very well with people telling me what to do.
Is there a completely different approach going into an album?
Yeah, I think there was actually. I thought it was going to feel like an EP but longer but it did feel different and I think that was reflective in the process as well. With EPs, I’ve been happy to make them in London. I have a little studio near where I live, Tom, who I co-produce with, he’s got a studio. When making the EPs, we’ve been happy to do sessions at his or mine. Whereas, with the album, I was pretty open to going somewhere for a couple of weeks. It was like an immersive summer camp but yet maddening. I wanted to leave London and just go somewhere and have nothing else to think about.
How long did it take to complete the album?
I started writing it last January until around August. I was demoing them as I went along and then I did two months or so of further production and tidying up the demos. Then, we went to the studio where we finished it in October. With the mixing, probably a full year.
What was the first song you created that made the album?
The last single that I put out, “You’re Not Special, Babe,” was the first one written.
That video looked fun to make!
Thank you! It was actually really stressful (laughs), although, they all have been fun. I’ve made all the videos of mine with my friend Greta Isaa who has been art directing everything with me.
Was there a certain song that was challenging to make that almost didn’t make the record?
The funny thing is the most challenging one is the most simple one, which is a song called “Madison,” which is so stripped back. I recorded that about three or four versions of it, which was really weird. We did one straight tape in the studio when we went to Devon and then I was really annoyed at myself because it sounded really good but it was so slow. Because it was so performance dependent, you had to perform it right, you couldn’t just fix it.
If you had to narrow it down to your three favorites, what would they be?
Probably “More Like You,” “Bloodline,” which is the last song, and maybe “Madison.”
One of my favorites is “The Things That I’ve Learned,” which sounds like the perfect album opener. Was it intentionally made to feel like that?
Yeah, that was quite deliberately written as the opener, so I really appreciate that. I was going to call the whole album “The Things That I’ve Learned” actually, that was the other contender, which I quite liked because it sounded like it was going to be a list of things.
Were there any artists in particular that influenced the record?
We didn’t really reference anyone overall but we had song references. References are useful because that’s how I got Tom to be on the same page as me. I didn’t want the whole album to be inspired by one particular person so they’re more just like little moments, like let’s pinch a bit of Joni Mitchell energy, and then something heavier like a Regina Spektor kind of vibe. It’s just taking moments of songs for references but very deliberately trying to avoid references.
What are you hoping listeners will take away from the album once they’ve heard it?
Probably to understand me a little better or see their own thing in it. The songs are pretty literal in most cases, they’re like an open book. When music is so wholesome is when someone can take your songs that are clearly about your thing and then see themselves in it, even if their situation is different, I think that is so pure. If people could do that with this music, that would be enough, that would make me happy.
Have streaming numbers affected your creative process in any way?
I try not to let it but it’s inevitable. I think it’s really easy to make songs for these platforms but it’s so dangerous because none of these platforms will last and Spotify music or TikTok music is not going to age well. It comes into my mind when I’m picking the singles but as a strict rule, it’s not allowed to come into the origin of it because that’s where it all goes to hell (laughs).
What is something you would like to achieve by the end of the year?
Nothing specific other than going on tour and playing the songs live. I mean, I’ll believe it when I see it. I will literally believe it when I step on that stage. So, hopefully, tour in October.