MUSIC

Rosie Carney Talks Life After "Bare," And The Death of Her Rat Matilda

The singer sat down with Popdust before her show at Mominette Bistro

When 22-year-old Rosie Carney released her album Bare in January, BBC referred to the singers haunting debut as "quietly powerful," and compared Carney's aching voice to Joni Mitchell. But the Irish singer-songwriter didn't take time off to rest on her laurels and is already back in the studio.

"It's funny cause everyone is saying to me, 'so you released your first album how does it feel?' The truth is I'm already over it," Carney told Popdust. An industry veteran in her own right, Carney was signed to London-based Polydor records when she was just 15-years-old. "When I was signed there was a lot of pressure to come up with commercial music," Carney said, "I was told that I was signed for my voice and not for my lyrics." Polydor dropped her a year later. "I couldn't write anymore. I didn't know who I was writing for or what I was writing for."

Carney became depressed and struggled to rekindle her inspiration. She became ill and was physically unable to attend school. She dropped out when she was 16. As she recovered physically and emotionally, she forced herself to practice writing and loving her art for what it was, and tailored each work to her interests, rather than to the approval of others. "Kids can be so mean," she said. "I lost all my friends when I got signed. You couldn't give me enough money to go back to school and experience that again." By the time Carney was signed again to Color Study, she had learned how to tap into her creativity in a different way. "I tend to not go back and listen to my work and dip into my past, cause I learned you wouldn't wanna do that generally. I'm just trying to move forward." Carney spoke more on her life after Bare, and how she handles the stress of being back in the spotlight.

So what happened after Polydor dropped you? How did you find your way back to yourself?

I already wasn't very well when I got signed, and being dropped was literally my worst fear. So everything I did in the studio was born out of this fear. I was constantly thinking of what everyone else would want to listen to when I should have just been listening to myself. Then when my worst fear was realized I just completely lost sight of who I was writing for, especially since they told me I was signed for my voice and not my lyrics. So I had to learn how to write and create for myself.

In that year before you were signed again, how did you hone in on your sound?

I just really gave myself the creative space to experiment and figure out what was better for me. My early sound was never something I was really happy with, and being dropped I feel gave me the space I needed to figure out what I wanted to say.

I imagine being a 15-year-old signed musician caused a lot of backlash with your friends at the time.

I lost my friends. Being a teenager is such a hard time, and I became incredibly ill so I ended up dropping out of school anyway just because I physically couldn't go. I was also just away all the time writing and working.

Do you feel fans connect more to your lyrics now?

It's still crazy for me to think that I even have fans, but yes. They really do. A lot of them I connected with when I shared my story, and I just got so many messages about connecting and relating to my music. I feel a very nice sense of unity with them.

But you said that you don't go back and listen to Bare, I'm curious why that is?

I'd never be embarrassed by my work, but Bare was written about very specific experiences, and I just feel like I'm so past that now. I'll always be proud of it, but I don't want to necessarily dwell on it or relive it. I've already got five demos for my second album, I'm working on a demo with Thomas Bartlett tomorrow. I'm just really eager to get back in the studio.

When you were signed a second time did you feel like you had a better head on your shoulders?

I did. I produce my own music now, and I know now exactly what I want down to the smallest texture. I was given so much more control than I was the first go round.

When you go back to Ireland what inspires new material?

The moon. I always end up writing something about the moon. Trees. My god – did I really just say trees? *laughs* but the landscape of my hometown is just so beautiful.

Why the moon?

Well, some people feel that when there is a full moon they go crazy, and I've always just felt myself being pulled by the energy of the moon. It's just so lonely up in the sky.

Now that you're older and wiser, how have you changed the way you manage stress and expectations?

I just am honest with myself when I'm having a bad mental health day. Today I was actually feeling quite anxious.

New York will do that to you.

Seriously, it's so loud! I'm constantly on edge. So I pinpointed it in my head, marked it, and recognize that it'll pass and I'm not going to go crazy. Having pets around also helps.

I have four dogs at home, along with a chicken, a pig, and a horse. I can actually feel myself struggling a bit on this tour cause I haven't been around any animals. My beautiful dog Hemingway has pulled me out of so many dark times.

What makes him your dog?

We've always had 3 dogs, but I asked for one for my birthday that was just mine. So I went to the pet rescue center that was actually in the process of shutting down and this litter had just been delivered, and Hemingway has these big golden eyes. There is an old Irish superstition that golden eyes signify when a creature is possessed by the devil, which is ridiculous.

Is he possessed by the devil?

Absolutely not, but my other dog Murphy did kill my pet rat.

You had a pet rat?

We had two. Mine was named Matilda, and Murphy snuck upstairs and bit right into him and presented him to me. He's a Jack Russell Terrier so it's in his nature, but I was pissed. I couldn't exactly be like "fuck you!" though could I?

Be sure to catch Rosie Carney on her European tour. Tickets can be purchased here.


Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area. Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.


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Culture Feature

Book Review: 'The Writing Irish Of New York'

Featuring work by Colum McCann, Billy Collins, Luanne Rice, Malachy McCourt, and many more.

Colin Broderick's imagination was forged by The Troubles in Northern Ireland and his work as a "chippy" (carpenter) after he landed in New York City.

His dream of becoming a writer may have seemed impossible to him at times, but it never left him. Despite his near fatal attraction to booze and countless personal and artistic concussions, he continued to swing his creative hammer and push past the character he once felt he had to play—the hardcore drinker, the Irish scribe. Those early struggles and triumphs have been recently documented in his first feature movie "Emerald City," an autobiographical account of his shift from a struggling construction worker to published author (it has just been released on VOD). After finding sobriety and refining his talent, he has gone on to build an impressive body of published work.

Most recently, Broderick serves his mission by pulling together and editing The Writing Irish of New York, a collection of essays by and about Irish writers who in essence lay out the entire history of Irish literature in America. The book tells the stories of a community bound together by the thick green tug rope that connects Gotham and Ireland. Writers like National Book Award winner Colum McCann, Poet Laureate Billy Collins, The New York Times Best Seller Luanne Rice, and best-selling author Malachy McCourt give intimate accounts of their own early days trying to make a living doing what they love in a city that will either make or break them. Interspersed with these accounts are snippets penned by Broderick himself; miniature, heartbreaking and inspiring portraits of the legendary Irish authors who have paved the way in America: Brendan Behan, Maeve Brennan, J.P. Dunleavy, and Oscar Wilde, among many others. The pages are filled with tales of the late greats, as well as a newer generation's first hand accounts of the sometimes trying, always rewarding life as an Irish writer—it's hard to imagine a library this collection doesn't belong in.

Author Colum McCann, internationally renowned for such novels as Let The Great World Spin, and This Side of Brightness, writes an exclusive account of his early days as a writer in NYC. For the first time ever, he tells of the struggles, the doubt, and ultimately, the hope. It's a vulnerable and heart-felt account of exile. It's Colum McCann as we've never seen him before. This essay alone is worth the price of this book.

Broderick tells of Oscar Wilde, whose works are so iconic and richly steeped in mystery and drama that it can be easy to forget the madness of his life. He disregarded societal taboo, pushing boundaries and advocating for an honest exploration of homosexuality, both in his written work and his life. At every turn, Wilde was met with disapproval, judgement, and ultimately, punishment—but he reveled in it. It fueled his flamboyant character and led him to New York City, where he finally found the celebrity he so desperately craved. There his ego exploded, and his blatant disregard for others' opinions shifted from triumph to tragic, ultimately leading to his downfall.

Purchase The Writing Irish of New York on Amazon.

Wilde exemplified all things theatrical in his writing, but, in stark contrast, the story told by contemporary New York writer, Kevin Fortuna (though equally powerful) is softer in tone, more humble. A great-grandson of Ireland who reconnects with his maternal bloodline, Fortuna, in his essay, illustrates the simple social magic that is part of normal life in Ireland, the love of language and conversation. Fortuna's story is an unusual one that involves the intersection of business and art, and can be traced back to his first trip to see family in Cobh, County Cork. This time spent in Cobh ignited a passion for the written word, a hunger for truth—and a driving need to avoid a "boring," wasted life. He ends his story by taking you back to that formative first trip to Ireland. The haunting conclusion to his essay captures the dark days of Ireland's past, but also the light that shone through, forged from sheer will and talent.

Editor Colin Broderick, "Writing Irish Of New York"

Those brighter days illuminated the life of America's prince, John F. Kennedy Jr., who was born into more fame and fortune than most of his fellow Irish writers would know in a lifetime. He married his father's integrity and love of country with the ever-growing, sexy world of pop culture to form George, a little-known NYC-based magazine that blurred the lines between politics and celebrity. Kennedy and his team asked the tough questions, and though he never shied away from the cloud of controversy surrounding his family, he would never rely on it. George's voice was objectively critical of leaders regardless of party politics, yet Kennedy still managed to lace his criticisms with undertones of his late father's idealism. He lead a blessed life that ended in tragedy, his potential never fully reached.

Dreams touched upon, but never fully realised, is a common Irish refrain, like the fleeting life of Frank O'Hara. O'Hara spent his wild days scribbling poetry on the back of napkins in NYC, and his life story is as crazy as his genius. Born to strict Catholic parents, O'Hara was destined to break from these religious restraints from an early age. He served in the U.S. Navy for two years, where his unconventional mind must have struggled with the relentless routine. His service was rewarded with his education at Harvard, where he published his first body of work and met a fellow poet with whom he fell madly in love. The two moved to New York, and like so many of his Irish brothers and sisters, what followed was a life riddled with addiction, self-loathing, and relentless pursuit of recognition. New York City is where O'Hara penned his best poetry—the uneasy flow of Manhattan seemed to mirror his own chaotic mind.

Purchase The Writing Irish of New York on Amazon.

Those NYC streets were a hazard and a haven to Dublin-born Maeve Brennan. Like her fellow Irish icons, Brennan's life was a combination of brilliance and insanity, the ratio of which was constantly bouncing back and forth, fighting and complimenting each other at different stages of her fascinating life. A child of revolutionary 1916 Ireland, her father founded The Irish Press and moved the family stateside where she found her voice, and began penning short stories for The New Yorker. Although not feeling confident enough to return to a religiously and socially-repressed Ireland until her later years, Brennan never forgot her roots; many of her short stories were based in her beloved hometown. As the years went on, her perfectly put-together ensembles began to slowly fall apart. Her genius stayed intact while perhaps a little lost at times. Like many talented and tortured artists, she left the Earth relatively unknown in the land of her birth, where her heart remained in the land that seemed to have forgotten her.

Lives bound together in talent and struggle, steeped in whiskey and self-doubt, the authors in The Writing Irish of New York span three centuries, but ultimately their heritage unites them. Far greater than the written words is the unspoken feeling you get when reading this book, the power of heritage spanning generations and oceans. Broderick closes the book with his own short story, his life fitting seamlessly with those of his much-loved idols, securing him a well-earned seat at the table.

It's easy to get caught up in the legend and deep sea of beautifully written words, but what makes Broderick's book worth reading is the way he mythologizes these writers when discussing their work but humanizes them in his portrayal of their character. It's the non-chronological narrating of these stories that captivates you. The vacillation between the biographical snippets of literary giants and the stories of newer writers serves as a gentle reminder of the hard path that came before and the history that unites them all.

Purchase The Writing Irish of New York on Amazon.

Popdust Presents

Popdust Presents | Hudson Taylor Whisk Us Away Into the Sky

The Irish folk duo discusses honing their craft & new album, Bear Creek to Dame Street.

The duo balances recording and live show energy.

September 26, 2018 | Musicians Harry and Alfie Hudson-Taylor draw blood in their music. On their second studio record, called Bear Creek to Dame Street, out now, the brother folk duo unleashes some of their most visceral and engaging songwriting to date. From the haunting breeze of "You Don't Wanna Know" to the gently burning waltz tilt of "Shot Someone," a ballad worth of Johnny Cash or Eddie Arnold, the album is equal parts proper recording and live showcase, featuring five songs captured in the heat of a concert, including the rupturing "Care" and a bonus track called "Chasing Rubies."

In all, the self-proclaimed "mini-album" illustrates exactly why they're teetering on the edge of true superstardom -- just listen to the audience singing along to every single word. The four new songs allow them to find their footing thanks to the towering talents of producer Ryan Hadlock, most known for his work with The Lumineers and Vance Joy, at Bear Creek Studios in Seattle. The songs stand squarely in the courtyard of traditional folk music but are flavored with classicisms of the rock and singer-songwriter mold of the '60s and '70s. That in and of itself allows Hudson Taylor to draw out deeper and richer meanings, while also framing their youth in the glow of a bygone era.

The brother duo recently stopped by the Popdust studio to play a tune and discuss family upbringing, Irish dancing, honing their craft and live shows and their new record. Watch the interview above.


Hudson Taylor first issued their debut long-player Singing for Strangers back in 2015. The remarkably tall-standing 21-track splash is noticeably glossier in delivery, and while it still adheres to their folk roots, their full potential wasn't unlocked until the follow-up. Bear Creek to Dame Street feels grittier, allowing Alfie and Harry to spread their wings. "One in a Million" kicks off the set with a sultry bang, leading up to "I Love You and You Don't Even Know," which casts a doo-wop-infused honky-tonk whirl. Between flecks of vast musical influences, they plant their feet center stage.

Hailing from Dublin, the multi-instrumentalists have done their fair share of busking but have since hopped aboard a string of dates with alt-pop singer-songwriter Hozier. The tour continues throughout the rest of the month. See the remaining stops, including San Diego and Portland, below.

Watch "Battles" | Live & Acoustic

Check out the rest of the duo's upcoming tour dates:

October 8 - Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern

October 9 - Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern

October 10 - Los Angeles, CA - The Wiltern

October 12 - Los Angeles, CA - Hotel Cafe (Hudson Taylor headlining show)

October 14 - Tempe, AZ - The Marquee

October 15 - San Diego, CA - The Observatory North Park

October 16 - Oakland, CA - Fox Theatre

October 18 - Seattle, WA - Paramount Theatre

October 19 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre

October 20 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theatre

October 22 - Vancouver, Canada - Orpheum Theatre


Follow Hudson Taylor on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Jason Scott is a freelance music journalist with bylines in B-Sides & Badlands, Billboard, PopCrush, Ladygunn, Greatist, AXS, Uproxx, Paste and many others. Follow him on Twitter.



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