Cork artist Eve Clague released her debut solo single, ‘Young Naive Me’, recently. It had been a long time coming – indeed there’s a SoFar Sofas clip of the track from 2016 up on YouTube. Though it’s her debut single, she might be familiar to Cork gig-goers – she performed with the covers group Saxy Lady Boys for a couple of years, has collaborated with the up-and-coming dance-pop artist Darce and has been playing gigs for years. ‘Young Naive Me’, a sweeping melange of sounds that Clague herself dubs urban-folk, is going to be followed by an EP later in April. Listen to the song via Spotify and check out an interview with Clague below, talking about her journey in music, how her sound developed and what’s next.

Congratulations on your first solo release, ‘Young Naive Me’. Tell me how it came about.
‘Young Naive Me’ came about in my 2nd year of college in Cork School of Music. I hadn’t written anything for a while, mostly because I didn’t really have anything to say. But I guess the song is about heartbreak and struggles of trying to be confident. There has been a good few different versions of this song over the course of three years. It was a lot shorter before and had less lyrics and chords but I added in more sections to it. I also had done a version of it in college for an arranging project. It had strings and horns on it but it was a lot slower, sort of daydreaming kind of style. I’m very happy with the result today – feels more of a head bop now and it even still has that element of daydreaming.

Tell me about the journey that’s led – or is leading to – your debut EP, due soon. You say you left school at 15. Were you just tired of it and wanted to get out or was there a bigger plan than that?
The journey so far for making this EP has been amazing. I’ve been writing songs since I was a small teen, but I always thought they weren’t good enough. I remember always asking my brother Sam for his opinion and one day he said to me “Eve, I don’t care what you write, if you like it, I like it.” I was sort of confused why he said that to me but I’m so happy he did cause it just gave me the freedom to believe in the stuff I was writing. I did leave school after my Junior Cert. To be honest I hated it. I struggle with dyslexia and I just couldn’t follow their education system, it didn’t suit me. I really enjoyed the art classes. My teacher there was so supportive and I even went to art college after I left. I guess I’m more of a visual learner. Also I think the way I write lyrics are usually very visual. The plan really leaving school, was that I wanted to be a full time musician. When I left school I was actually too young to start college so me and my mum were trying to find things for me to do. So we found Voiceworks in Cork City. Laoise Leahy was my vocal teacher there for two years. I learnt so many things vocally that I didn’t even know i could do. I remember every week I used to come in with a song, usually from the set we did with Saxy Lady Boys which was a funk disco band. Off the top of my head ‘Lady Marmalade’ was one of them. I couldn’t sing it at all but Laoise taught me how to get there vocally with it and I was so shocked with the result. Laoise also told me about Cork School of Music so I applied. Sadly I didn’t get accepted first time around. I was offered art in Crawford, but I really wanted to do music, so I wrote to the college and said while I was delighted to be offered Art, my real passion was music and I got an offer in the post unexpectedly. I’m so happy I did four years there. The lecturers were amazing.

How did your sound develop? When you thought about the ‘Eve Clague’ project did you have an idea of what you wanted to sound like in mind, or did it come about more organically than that as time went on?
I think it was more organic. I play acoustic guitar and write all my music on the acoustic guitar. If you asked me what chords I was playing I actually wouldn’t be able to tell you. I learnt it by ear. So I’d say the writing process has been very like that. In college I learnt how to make charts for band members so I started doing that with the band in the beginning. But the last few rehearsals we have had there’s been no charts just listening to each other, which I generally prefer. I hope the guys prefer it as well. I’ve always been massively influenced by Amy Winehouse and Lianne La Havas. I always kind of imagined my music to be similar but these things always change, influences always change.

Was the collaboration with Darce part of the finding your voice? It’s a little bit different to your own style – was it a nice challenge to do something like that?
I wouldn’t say it was me finding my voice collaborating with Darce. It was definitely different to what I usually play. I met Darce for the first time in the studio having listened to the song a few times before going in. Doing ‘Always’ and ‘Valhalla’ were the two tracks we recorded. The singing I was doing was very simple stuff. I think what was most challenging was trying to match the way he pronounced his words in ‘Always’. Also I was trying to be as laid back vocally as I could to have that sort of fragile sound. But it was a very enjoyable experience.

How do you find the Cork music scene? The fact you play with a couple of the lads from Shookrah, as well as your brother Sam, seems to me like you find it quite fulfilling/collaborative friendly? And what acts would you recommend at the moment?
Yeah I love playing with the lads Brian Dunlea, Diarmait Mac Carthaigh, Paul Leonard and Sam Clague. They’re great musicians. They always have great ideas and I’m always very open to them. At the start I think we were all too scared to say anything but after meeting up a good few time this year, the vocabulary has been a lot better and we really complement each other. The Cork music scene seems to keep changing for me personally. I remember when I first moved up to Cork I played with a cover band, Saxy Lady Boys. We played in the old Pavilion and it seemed like that was the spot to go see any music of all kinds. But generally there has been some nice events to play at in Cork. I really enjoyed playing at the Quarter Block Party this year. I thought that it would be hard to keep everyone entertained cause sometimes people like to chat at these things but everyone there were so quite it took me by surprise.

Cork bands I’d recommend: well firstly my brother Sam’s music. He’s just amazing, not just saying that because I’m his little sister. Also another band Rowan, Dylan Howe’s band, I enjoy seeing them live. Dylan is always amazing to look at when he’s playing the piano, He’s just an amazing songwriter and player.

You had a launch for the EP in Plugd last weekend – what’s the plan for the short term? When can we expect the EP? And any plans beyond that, like for a full album?
So yeah the EP will be coming out April 26 on all platform media. It’s super exciting. I’ve made CDs as well so they’re up for grabs at the moment. I have been writing a good bit since I’ve recorded the EP. I would love to get back into the studio again before next year. I feel like we are just starting to really blend together as a band now, so I am excited to record more music.