INTERVIEW: His New Atlas | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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19-year-old Eoghan O’Hagan’s relentless work ethic and talent for making beautiful, sweeping tunes that combine the soaring atmospherics of Sigur Ros with the intimacy of Damien Rice have seen him slowly building a strong reputation for being one of the best new singer-songwriters around. His recently released single Saints is one of his best works to date and, in support of the release, O’Hagan is once again touring the UK with his band, making a stop in the north east.

Ahead of his gig at the Head of Steam, Newcastle alongside Joe Allan and Immy Williams, we talked to Eoghan about the new single, being from Northern Ireland and what he’s expecting from a Tyneside audience.

You recently released your new single Saints; what are the inspirations behind the track?

This song came from a first glimmer of light that showed itself after one of the hardest years I have experienced. It was the recognition of a heaven, the heaven only we can create ourselves, peace of mind. Finding the beauty in pain had always been the goal of my music, taking the terrors that haunt me, lifting them from my shoulders and throwing it out in the form of music.

How does Saints differ at all from your previous works?

Beyond a bigger budget and a longer amount of time spent on the track, it is the most mature and clear minded track I have written. The hint of positivity in the song actually scared me as I thought after this I’d have nothing heartfelt to write about, but I have kept writing and learning about myself, and I don’t feel I’ll ever lose inspiration from the life I live.

You cite the likes of Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice as influences on your work. What attracts you to these artists and their work?

You know what, when I actually started writing I didn’t listen to these two artists. But I think with any writer in the genre like Jeff and Damien it’s the appeal of honesty, and turning a negative experience into something positive like a song. Later, when I began listening to Jeff, Damien and Sigur Ros, I found that each song held its own soul, and seemed to live its own life. And that’s what actually inspired me. Each song being like a chapter of my life, a moment caught and captured.

Some of the sweeping, atmospheric soundscapes in your music feel reminiscent to the likes of Sigur Ros; have the Icelandic group had any influence on you in that respect or does that feel come from somewhere else?

I have a massive, passionate love for Sigur Ros. They have definitely influenced the dynamics of the music. I actually start each song with words, and some don’t even turn to songs. But when I have the words I try find the best way to express the emotion of the word or phrase, and that’s where the soundscapes come in. They can project the fragile side, to the screaming child inside.

his new atlas

“The hint of positivity in the song actually scared me as I thought after this I’d have nothing heartfelt to write about”

With the likes of yourselves and people like SOAK making a name for themselves across the country, is now a good time to be a band from Northern Ireland?

SOAK is doing the most amazing stuff at the minute. I bought and treasure the new album. Yes, I think it’s good to be from here, the bands here are amazing, and the standard makes you have to push harder and harder. So it really strengthens your work ethic and drive. The bands and musical community as well are like a gigantic family, we all help each other out.

Do you think that coming from Northern Ireland has had an impact on your music in any way?

No, not massively, there aren’t a lot of bands working in the same genre. The others being friends of mine, Silences, who are actually from the same town. But the musical influences aren’t Irish based for myself.

You’ve said that you think your music goes down better in England than in your home country; why do you think that is?

Yeah I said that, as there is a great strong following over there which meant that on the tours I went on the shows were brilliant. But I just finished the last Irish show of 2015 and, after the doubt of no one caring for my music, it was close to selling out, and everyone listened and cared. It was the best show I have ever played and I am so grateful to everyone who came.

Have you ever played in Newcastle before? What are you expecting?

I have never actually been in Newcastle but I spent some time writing with one of Newcastle’s artists, Immy Williams, and after hearing her I needed to go check the place out. I am also really excited to get writing with her, and hanging out with her, and everyone who comes.

Finally, what’s next for His New Atlas after the tour?

After the tour I have management to sort. I am moving to Liverpool with the band and, more importantly, doing more tours. Maybe an EP, we shall see.

His New Atlas plays at the Head of Steam, Newcastle on Friday 24th July.

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