Meet: Northern Irish folk singer songwriter Joshua Burnside; listen to new track with Laura Quirke

With a new EP with Laura Quirke due July and a UK tour coming November we caught up with Joshua Burnside to find out how he has survived lockdown, playing live and Irish inspirations.

First off. How are you doing during this current situation? How has the pandemic affected you? Any messages for your fans?

I’m doing okay, I’ve had a lot of different projects to keep me pre-occupied so that’s been good. I was gutted that live music has been pushed back again to the 5th July, but fingers crossed that will go ahead. I can’t wait to perform again, I really miss the craic! The music, the people, the pints, getting sweaty on stage at some basement venue, ah!

Have you get busy during the enforced downtime? Hows the violin learning going? 

Yeah so I’ve had a few projects on, one with my brother Connor, an instrumental band called Seacht Líne, and another with Laura Quirke of the band Lemoncello. Laura and I are releasing an EP together on the 15th July,
and I rarely say this but I’m super proud of what we’ve made. And yes the violin has been my lockdown project. It definitely kept me sane those first few months last year. Looking forward to a few sessions in town soon.

Finally getting a chance to get out there and play to fans? How much are you looking forward to it? How much have you missed playing live? 

I’ve sort of answered that one already but yes, can’t wait for live music. It’s been such a huge part of my life for so long, it’s probably unhealthily tied up to my sense of identity, but sure. In some ways it’s been good to have a break from it, you don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Your UK tour in November is covering quite a lot of the country. Do you notice a difference in crowds? Any favourite venues you love to play? 

Yeah I’ve found that in some places there is a more local crowd, and in others like London and Glasgow, there is a larger Irish group, who may know some of my earlier songs, which is nice. Both are great in different ways really. I really enjoyed playing the Bury Met, it’s a lovely venue.

How much do you think your upbringing in Ireland has affected your music/lyrics? Are you thankful for the experiences?

I think growing up in Northern Ireland, the north of Ireland, Ulster, or however you which to describe it, has had an enormous influence on my music and lyrics. I mean we are all products of our environment, so I think it’s only natural. People often say to me that it’s nice to hear someone singing in their own accent, which is odd when you think about it. But I do intentionally consider things like my heritage and the history of the land I live in, and try to draw on that for inspiration. Recently I’ve been particularly inspired by Belfast poet John Hewitt.

Talking of writing, how do you go about creating a track? Do you start with a riff or melody? Where do the lyrics fit in? Where do you get your inspirations from? 

I have no set way to write music or songs. Sometimes I will have the idea for song, a narrative or a theme, and then I will write a poem which I later set to music. Other times I have some chord shapes I like, I mumble a melody of nonsense words over that, and eventually the mumbles start to make sense, one word follows another and before you know it you’re subconscious has done most of the heavy lifting. Other times I might just have some sounds I like, a distorted kick drum, a gravely synth or whatever, and I just start layering things. The singing then is just another textural layer, as opposed to the focus of the music.

With the consumption of music being so heavily on the side of streaming rather than physical. Do you feel you have had better exposure because of it? Are you a fan of streaming or prefer the old fashioned way? 

I still prefer listing to albums on physical form. Normally CDs. I love physical things, reading the lyrics from the booklet, and listening to the ebb and flow of an album. But I like streaming too, making your own playlists can be really creatively engaging, and inspiring.

Outside of the music, what do you enjoy? What keeps you busy? 

I’ve just finished watching The Night Of, the HBO series. I’d highly recommend that. Music keeps me busy though, more than anything else. Music and just boring life stuff y’know, washing the dishes and all that.

Are there any bands past or present you would love to have played with or even been part of? Is there a particular band that got you into music? 

So many! I kind of wish I had been in a hardcore band at some point, maybe that ship has sailed, if there’s anyone reading this that wants to start one with me then give me a shout. I would have loved to been in Million Dead, or a band like that. They were deadly.

Lastly what music are you digging right now? Any bands or artists you think deserve a little more recognition?

Yeah, there’s loads, especially from all over the green isle. Check out Lankum, Lemoncello, Anna Mieke, The Mary Wallopers, Junior Brother, Mark Loughrey, Ciaran Lavery, the list goes on!

Check out the lyric video for ‘Far Away the Hills are Green’ from Joshua with Laura Quirke, below:

Find out more about Burnside via his Facebook

Purchase tickets for Burnside’s tour here

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