With his musical style being compared to the likes of David Bowie and Kate Bush, Jack O’Rourke is building a very reputable name for himself since the release of his debut album just under a year ago.
With his hit song Silence becoming the anthem for the marriage-equality campaign in 2016, and his album Dream catcher making it to number 5 in the album charts, Jack had a lot to talk about with Fortitude this past weekend during Indiependence 2017.
To start off, did you enjoy your gig?
Jack: (with a mouth-full of burger) Yeah it was great, it was a really nice tent, with really good sound which always makes a difference, you know?
The album has been out for a year, how have things gone since its release?
Jack: Yeah it came out in September, so almost a year. Jesus, it’s hard to believe. Yeah it’s been brilliant, it was great to finally release it because I was writing the songs for a long time. There was a lot of different styles, but my producer managed to make it pretty cohesive. It did really well, got to number 5 in the album charts, great reviews and a lot of radio plays.
Your music inspired cultural movements, particularly Silence becoming the anthem for the equality movement, I imagine that must of been great?
Jack: I didn’t really set out to write something for it, I’m gay, so I suppose it was autobiographical. If I had set out to write something for that, I guess it would of been more up-tempo (laughs). It broke all the rules for something that should be a hit, but it resonated with people for its honesty, on both sides of the campaign, which was really nice.
Do you feel your music could resonate with the current campaign, Repeal the 8th?
Jack: I think so, it may be selfish of me, but I suppose if something that is intrinsic to yourself you write from it. I was talking to an interesting woman, who’s my Mom, she said she was pro-life and pro-choice. Like the marriage campaign, it’s not black and white, you know? I am pro-choice, but I understand points from both sides. (My music) Is more liberal, I think if you set out to be worthy, it’s a very dangerous game, Silence worked because it was just a story about a little boy who down the line realised he was a bit different, and I thats what made people, even on the no-side (equality campaign) think about it a bit more, and not see it as an us and them mentality.
Are you writing new music at the moment?
Jack: It comes to me in spurts, I’d love to be very disciplined, someone who gets up in the morning and sits down, has a note-pad and records everything he writes on the piano or guitar… obviously it’s a lot of sh*t, but when you filter that down and sit through it you can get something that’s really good.. I’ve tried to do that, but I’m just really disorganised, so I have all these collections of melodies. Often if I’m really passionate about something, thinking about something, happy about something, elated, p*ssed off about something the song will just come out.
Would your disorganisation lead to you, let’s say, getting up onstage, and saying “Look, I’m going to give this a go” after working on something last week, or has that even happened already?
Jack: I’d like for the next album branch out and do that, there’s such a stigma attached to the word songwriter, we’re all singer songwriters no matter what genre we are, but I think there was such an over saturation to the whole folk, woe-is-me guitar thing attached to it… I think you just roll with it, you write what you know.
To wrap it up, how does it feel performing back in Cork, at a festival of this magnitude?
Jack: It’s great, I actually love this festival. It’s mad, I’m a secondary school teacher, and my students were at the front of the stage! They were all my leaving-cert students at the front. It’s nice, they’re really supportive, and I feel even though I’m a lot older than them, you must have your finger on the pulse if they’re coming to see you.
Fortitude: Thanks a lot Jack!
If you’re interested in checking Jack O’Rourke out, listen to ‘Silence’ and ‘Naivety’ from his album Dreamcatcher.