A Year in Music – 2019 – Nadine O’Regan (Business Post Journalist)
Let’s begin with 2019. What music/albums have you enjoyed most this year?
This year, I’ve loved albums from Irish artists including Fontaines DC, Sorcha Richardson, Dermot Kennedy, Jape and The Murder Capital, as well A Lazarus Soul, who really delivered in 2019 with a stunning collection of trad-infused songs. It’s been such a strong year for Irish music in general — it’s really heartening to see.
On the international front, the latest Lana del Rey album is a smoky-eyed wonder — a lovely listen if you’re feeling a touch melancholic — and on the flip side of the coin, the Hot Chip record A Bath Full of Ecstasy is hard to beat, as was their appearance at the All Together Now festival over the summer. Finally, I loved the Billie Eilish debut album — and her turn at Electric Picnic at the end of the summer was extraordinary.
Do you think this decade has been good for music? What are your highlights?
This decade has been a mixed bag for music. Indie rock has been a major casualty of the last decade, as weedy Ed Sheeran-alikes have taken over the world — and that’s a real shame. But I’ve been glad to see the rise and rise of female solo artists — Beyonce, Lizzo and Taylor Swift among them. Spotify has also been doing its damndest to cancel the concept of the album, by foregrounding single tracks on the streaming service — I hope that as we get into 2020 and beyond, that people start remembering why an album is a lovely thing in terms of deepening your appreciation of an artist. In terms of my gig highlights, I always love going to Electric Picnic every year, and I’d single out gigs by Radiohead (3Arena), Nick Cave (Kilmainham), Nine Inch Nails (Belfast), Billie Eilish (Electric Picnic), Girl Band (Whelan’s), Depeche Mode (3Arena), Prince (Malahide Castle), Leonard Cohen (3Arena) and quite a few gigs by Jon Hopkins (at festivals) as being particularly memorable in recent years.
Is streaming taking over from owning music completely?
In a word: yes. I like to buy records, but I haven’t bought a CD in quite a long time. We listen to more music than ever before, but we pay artists less than ever before; it’s not defensible. If you want to support Irish artists, the best way is by going to see them live and buying their merch. And it’s good to show your support online — if I like a record, I’ll often tweet about it — it may seem like a tiny and insignificant act, but it’s a nice way to let an artist know their music is making a mark.
Anything really big for you musically that ten years ago, you had no interest in?
Not really. In 2009, I was presenting and producing my arts show The Kiosk on Phantom 105.2, Dublin’s now deceased indie-rock radio station, where I played music and interviewed great artists. Ten years on, I’m still very much in love with a wide variety of music, from electronica to indie to trad to hip-hop. Probably the main thing that has changed is that when I’m thinking now about what to play on my stereo, I occasionally find myself tuning into a podcast rather than an album. I launched my own podcast My Roots Are Showing a while back; it’s an interview-based podcast featuring guests including Graham Norton, Jon Ronson and Paschal Donohoe — so I like to listen to other podcasts to help me brainstorm about how to keep doing things better.
Is music as important for you as it was ten years ago?
Yes. It’s a very big part of my life. I rarely go anywhere without my headphones.
How are things yourself, have you any interesting projects going on?
I’m hosting an event called The Art of Anxiety at the First Fortnight festival in Dublin on January 8th in Whelan’s Parlour Bar — and I’m very much looking forward to that. On the evening, I’ll be interviewing a panel of artists including Richie Egan of Jape and David Hedderman (formerly of Irish band The Immediate) about their experiences of anxiety. Irish artist Sorcha Richardson will also be performing live, and we’ll be hearing from the psychotherapist and author Siobhan Murray as well. January is very much a month where people experience the blues, so this evening will hopefully be a lovely antidote to that. Talking always helps.
Nadine O’Regan is Books and Arts Editor of the Business Post and presents and produces the podcast My Roots Are Showing, available on Spotify, iTunes and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter by going to http://www.twitter.com/nadineoregan