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Sorcha Richardson travelled across the world, before returning home to know that place for the first time. Dublin born and bred, she escaped as her teens drew to a close, spending time in New York and Los Angeles, before the bright lights of Dublin City began to call to her once more.

It’s a journey that fuels her extraordinary debut album, the folk-tinged indie songwriting of ‘First Prize Bravery’. “For me, writing songs is the best way that I can process my own feelings and make sense of certain situations that confuse me, or plague me for a while,” she explains. “The more specific I am about my own experiences the easier it is for other people to relate to. I think everything is pretty universal, what we all go through.”

Sorcha writes constantly, this continual torrent of creativity, matching words to gilded melodies. “I try to write almost every day,” she comments. “I have so many little voice memos on my phone, and random scrambles of words on the back of my phone…”

“I try to keep a notebook. Even when we’re on the road, I’ll try to keep a notebook and put something in it every day. I feel better when I do that. I feel like it’s good for my head to do that.”

Making the album was undoubtedly therapeutic. Relocating from Dublin to the United States was tough, the kind of experience that can make and break you. A huge risk, she matched this by deciding to head home, finding closure in that journey. “For me, it feels like a snapshot of a quite specific moment in time of my life, as I was starting to think about leaving New York, and then up to when I got back to Dublin. So I think what I do sometimes is I write songs about moments that I don’t want to forget.”

Working extensively with producer Alex Casnoff, ‘First Prize Bravery’ moves from painful memories to bright hopes, fusing songs she had worked on for years with stunningly recent observations. It’s highly literate, too, with Sorcha displaying a novelistic turn of phrase. “I studied creative writing in college,” she observes, “but I don’t think I’ve written a short story since I handed in my last exam!”

Out now, ‘First Prize Bravery’ is part of a flood-tide of fresh music from Ireland. Each city, each town seems to have its own flavour, this community of creative networks working together in a state of friendly competition.

“I love being back here,” she comments. “Loads of us are all in the same rehearsal space and we see each other quite a lot. I always think that there is a real sense of community here amongst all the musicians that I don’t think I ever really found when I was in New York. Everyone goes to each other’s shows, it’s really really nice.”

“I was listening to music all morning, and I realised 20 minutes ago that everything I’d been listening to was Irish. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about Irish music. I find it inspiring, and motivating, and inspiring to be here amongst it as everyone is doing their thing.”

It’s true: sometimes you have to leave a place to truly get to know it. “It’s crazy, my change in perspective,” she says. “There’s a train I used to take home everyday from school growing up. I remember coming back from New York and taking that train, which goes all the way along the coast, and I was like: oh my God, this is the best train I’ve ever been on! I took it for six years or so, and never even bothered to look out of the window.”

“I think it changes your perception of a place. Dublin almost feels like a new city to me, in that there’s so much still to discover. It feels like a very new place to me. Like a city I haven’t lived in before, in a way.” 

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Photo Credit: Cáit Fahey

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