Over the course of December, we’ll be running a series of interviews with Irish acts reflecting on the past 12 months, how it was for them and for music in general. As part of the 2013 round-up there may also be a couple of lists to sink your ears in to as well. Here’s the third act to be featured in the round-up, Leanne Harte.
Leanne Harte released her first EP in a number of years this summer. She had taken a break from music after some initial success around 2007. Now shorn of management and going it alone, Leanne crowdfunded Restless Sleepers at the start of 2013 and unveiled it in July. Five tracks long, it’s a reminder of how talented she is. I interviewed Leanne around the release of the EP here. Below she talks about how her year was, the music she enjoyed as well as the movies and TV shows that stood out.
How has 2013 been for you? What have been the highlights of the year?
2013 has definitely been an eventful and busy year for me, which has been really great. I managed to complete a successful Fund It campaign at the end of 2012, meaning that I had enough money to fund my new EP, Restless Sleepers, which I went on to release in July of this year. Having new music out there for the first time in almost six years was really exciting, and I’ve had amazing opportunities to travel and perform following the EP’s release. Highlights would be the EP launch, being on the cover of The Ticket, being part of Hard Working Class Heroes for the second year in a row, travelling to Germany and performing in Berlin and Frankfurt, and to top off an amazing year, I’ll be performing at this year’s Other Voices in Dingle this weekend, which has been a dream of mine for years.
Was it weird releasing new music after such a long gap?
It was a bit daunting, really. I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it initially, because in the past I’d had management and people behind me who kind of knew what they were doing, so this was definitely a challenging experience for me, doing it entirely myself. Thankfully, though, it was completely a positive experience, and I’m delighted that I did it. I’ve learned a huge amount from it, and feel a lot more confident about my music and about doing it again in the not too distant future.
Best gig you’ve played? And best festival you played/attended?
Best gig I played was my gig in Offenbach, near Frankfurt in Germany which took place in July. It was a really special experience, with an incredible audience and I think sometimes it feels an extra bit special when you perform away from home and get such a good response. Best festival I played was definitely Hard Working Class Heroes, because on top of a really great gig, I had the opportunity to talk to industry people, and got a lot of advice about where I should go from here in my career. Best festival I attended was probably Longitude. Unbelievable weather, amazing acts, and an absolutely mind blowing performance from Yeah Yeah Yeahs – it was perfect.
What are some of your favourite songs of the year?
I was obsessed with the new Villagers album this year, and find it difficult to pick one track from it, but ‘In A Newfound Land You Are Free’ is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard, and it never ceases to give me goosebumps!
I also very recently discovered John Grant when I heard his song ‘Black Belt’ on the radio. Such a cracker of a tune, but it then led me to listen to his full album where I discovered the beautiful ‘Glacier’ which would be another stand out song for me this year.
I’ve danced to pretty much all of Haim’s album, love everything they’ve done. Also, Lisa O’Neill’s ‘No Train To Cavan’ (and pretty much her whole album) is stunning.
Also have had Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ stuck in my head since I first heard it. It’s hard not to go on and on, it’s been a really exciting year with lots of new music that I’ve really fallen in love with.
Which new bands, Irish or abroad, have you been impressed by this year?
As mentioned above, I adore Haim, and was lucky enough to catch their Whelan’s gig earlier in the year which was mind blowing! Also heard Savages for the first time this year and really felt excited about their sound and energy. London Grammar blew me away when I caught their set at Longitude, and their debut album didn’t disappoint. Not a new artist, but only discovered John Grant a few weeks ago and I am totally obsessed.
What plans have you got in the works for 2014?
My focus for the new year will be to get stuck in to writing some new material and my aim will be to record a full album as soon as possible. I’ll also be heading back to Germany in February to perform there again, and hope to organise an Irish tour, as I haven’t played around the country in a long time. Lots to plan and to do, and hopefully it’ll be just as exciting as 2013 has been.
What things other than music have you been enjoying this year?
I’m a total film and TV buff, and I’ve one of those unlimited cards for Cineworld, so I basically go about twice a week, at least! Standout films this year for me were The Way Way Back, Prisoners and the unbelievable Gravity. I thought Gravity would be my film of the year until I saw Blue is the Warmest Colour just last week, and it absolutely floored me. I left the cinema in a daze, and it stayed with me for days after. I thought it was incredible on so many levels. I think it’s actually gone on my list of favourite films of all time – it had THAT much of an effect on me. TV wise, this year I’ve loved Orange is the New Black and I watched the entire series of Breaking Bad over the course of about two weeks very recently and adored it. I’ve also enjoyed the Danish version of The Killing and thought the BBC drama set in Belfast, The Fall was a fantastic (and incredibly creepy) series. I also took up hockey a couple of years ago, and this year went away with the club I’m involved with, ‘The Pink Ladies’ to play in the Out Games in Antwerp. We came back with silver and bronze medals, which was a huge achievement, and felt great, especially because I had never played any kind of sport until two years ago!