County Cork-born musician Jack O’Rourke has certainly made the most of his time spent in lockdown during this global pandemic, indulging in what one can call a COVID-19 music self-care journey. Secondary school teacher by day, O’Rourke now has the time to turn his attention to his eclectic music with influences ranging from blues to jazz, with hints of folk and pop.
It’s fair to say that Jack hasn’t let this Coronavirus crisis dampen his blues music spirits. Not only has one of Ireland’s finest musicians taken part in the online concert series Troubadours, he has also chatted live on one of Ireland’s most cherished radio stations, RTÉ Radio 1.
Check out Jack’s Troubadours online concert here.
COVID-19 music self-care
Speaking to me about this COVID-19 music self-care adjustment, the 35-year-old told me that he is now learning how to record in his bedroom and that he has written “a lot of new songs.”
“I needed time to write,” the ‘Silence’ singer confessed. “Life before was so busy, so lockdown is good for me. I can write and compose and arrange. That might sound selfish. It’s a scary time but the muse is still around.”
Speaking of the scary time we are currently experiencing, Jack addressed how the COVID-19 situation is affecting his music and his career in general:
“A few gigs got cancelled which is a shame. Live music takes people out of reality. I think we all need that now. One was in a new venue called Sea Church, an old Church converted in Ballycotton, but I’ll get down there again.”
One can hope that happens sooner rather than later; something we could also feel about the potential announcement of a new album from Mr O’Rourke. Let’s just say he kept his cards close to his chest in regards to a possible release date.
“When I have ten or eleven songs fully cooked, then absolutely. The songs coming at the moment tend to be folkier or piano based. One of the song titles is ‘Benjamin’ and another one is ‘Crop Circles’.”
“These two songs are half-cooked at the moment,” Jack shared. “I’m just messing around with a few different songs. ‘Crop Circles’ is about messages that you can subliminally find in your surroundings. ‘Benjamin’ is some sort of a jig, I’m not sure yet. I like to start with an idea and see it through.”
“Often you will have a melody, and you’ll think to yourself, what a lovely arm, and then you might leave it there, and then come back to it at a later stage when you start finding and adding the other body parts.”
“It just fitted perfectly with the beat and timing of the jig, to be honest,” Jack laughed. “Sometimes artists don’t need to find that direct person for inspiration. I just chose ‘Benjamin’ for no personal reason.”
Inspiration behind new songs’ development
RTÉ Radio 1’s Miriam O’ Callaghan was the lucky one to get the inside scoop behind one of Jack’s newly written songs. When asked about the song, and about the inspiration behind its creation, he revealed the following:
“The name of the song is ‘Strange Bird’. “[It’s] about a drone recording a town on lockdown and what it sees and records. It’s very personal to me. The chorus is about the need for intimacy and closeness.”
An interesting and very original choice of theme for a song for sure. Something which, to die-hard O’Rourke followers, will come as no real surprise. ‘Silence’, which shot the songwriter to fame in 2015, centered around misunderstood youth with regards to sexuality.
The talented musically-inspired Irishman, who released his personal, self-accepting debut album Dreamcatcher back in 2016, often felt that his sexuality was more interesting to the general public rather than his music, especially after his emotionally harrowing ‘Silence’ accidentally became the country’s 2015 Gay Marriage Referendum representative anthem. His 2019 Ivory Towers EP release, however, seems to have somewhat loosened the shackles for Jack, as it allowed the English and Music second-level education teacher to move away from that past-held let’s-box-him-in mindset.
This Irish artist has recently raised 1,250 Euro for Cork’s charitable organisation Penny Dinners by taking part in the Troubadours concert series from home. Something that has no doubt increased his local popularity to an even higher status.
Describing the experience, Jack revealed that online gigging felt “a bit weird.” “You’re looking at yourself and [you’re] more aware of ticks and eccentricities when playing. As if artists don’t have a fragile enough ego,” he joked.
With regards to Jack’s plans for the remainder of the year, the ‘Ivory Towers’ singer revealed that he would be “writing away and sending songs” to his band and musicians. “I’ve started gigging online. I might [continue to] theme it. A gig at the piano, one on synth etc, one ballad-based, one blues.”
One thing’s for certain: Mr Jack O’Rourke will no doubt continue to make waves in the Irish music scene for some time to come. One can be sure that he will make the most of this COVID-19 music self-care opportunity.
Check Jack out on Spotify here: