An ethereal current—almost electric—runs through the even, honest and warm timbre of singer/songwriter Sorcha Richardson‘s vocals. The Dubliner, now residing in Brooklyn, has released a series of hand-drawn and DIY-produced lyric videos. The latest, “Waking Life,” premieres here today. The track invokes many instances of domesticated nature—flower petals falling, raindrops against a bedroom window, shooting stars burning up her own name—earthly, even telluric. While these moments beg the listener to stop and think, Richardson’s chorus rises upward and expands outward sonically. With an artful innocence, the video underlines this. Richardson will tour Ireland with Imelda May, a fellow Irish singer/songwriter, this October. It will be an opportunity for some to get closer to her songs of self-reflection and observation.
“I was always really creative when I was a kid,” Richardson explains to us. “I started songs on an old keyboard that my granddad gave me when I was around seven. I made a band with two of my friends, we wrote plays, we made short movies. I spent most of one summer with my friend Adam on the roof of his shed, mixing stuff we found in the kitchen and the garage of his house to make potions that we kept stashed in a hole in the wall at the end of his garden.” Richardson says she continued to write songs, even as she studied creative writing in college—all the while making “short two-minute films about the parties we’d throw at our apartments.”
“A couple summers ago I was in France with some friends. I don’t remember why, but we decided one afternoon to sit in the garden and do an arts and crafts day. We spent hours cutting up photos from French tabloid newspapers and sticking them back together, painting over them,” she explains about a return to art. “It was the first time in ages that I’d sat still for hours and been totally consumed by something that wasn’t a computer screen. Even when I write music on the piano or guitar, it eventually leads me back to my laptop, recording and editing my ideas on Ableton. It was kind of crazy to me that there was this thing that’s so calming and meditative and all I needed was a pen and paper.”
Sometimes I’ll write five songs about the same thing because it feels like there’s still water in the well and I wanna see what happens when I go back to it with a fresh slate
“Sometimes I’ll write five songs about the same thing because it feels like there’s still water in the well and I wanna see what happens when I go back to it with a fresh slate,” she continues. “But making these videos lets me tell the same story in a way that’s totally de-stressing. It lets me switch off my brain while giving me something to focus on, but in a way that still feels stimulating rather than numbing. Life is stressful and living in New York City can be exhausting.”
It’s about being a remedy, she says. “It doesn’t really matter to me whether or not the drawings are impressive—most of the time they’re not at all—I was barely able to draw that hand in the ‘Waking Life’ lyric video. It’s just a way for me to explore things that I visualize when I’m writing the songs and translate them in a new way. I always think that my best songwriting happens when I’m not trying that hard, when I’m being impulsive and saying things off the top of my head, without any judgement about whether or not it’s a good idea.” The process behind the videos was very much the same. “I’m always trying to find a way to close the gap between me and the person listening,” she concludes, “and so letting you flick through my sketchbook like this feels like a cool way to do that.”
Images courtesy of Yimmy Yayo, videos courtesy of Sorcha Richardson