Brí

First Published October 2020

BURYING HER HEART IN HER SONGS

Photo Credit: Molly Keane

These are intense times we’re living through right now. And Tullamore singer/songwriter BRÍ has managed to perfectly capture a flavour of what so many of us are feeling most days in her captivating new single, BURYING. Released last Friday, Burying is Brí’s third single, following on from her critically acclaimed and beautiful debut Low Supply and the follow-up, Polite – which was also greeted with open arms and hearts by the Irish music scene – both of which were released last year. Brí possesses a voice of the most exquisite and tender quality, which instantly draws you into her music, as if to share a secret whispered from her very soul. And in a sense, that’s exactly what her songs are. 


With the deft touch of a true artisan, Brí’s songs entwine the reflections of her own life’s journey with moments of time that we have all experienced in our own ways, but will feel an instant kinship with through her words and melodies. That’s no easy thing to do. But when it’s done as well as Brí can do it, what’s conjured up in that space of time is a world that becomes a better place for at least as long as the song plays. Burying is a song that we’ll all be hitting repeat on for some time to come, and the world will be a much, much better place for it. 


I had the pleasure of catching up with Brí towards the end of last week. In fact, as it just so happened, it was the day before the official release of Burying when we spoke. I began our chat by asking Brí how she was feeling knowing that in less than twenty-four hours, Burying would be officially a part of the musical landscape of the world? What’s the day before a single release usually like for her? 


“I suppose today I’m mainly focusing on replies from different people I’m hearing back from, which is great. I’ve got a few nice reviews already. And making sure all of the links and everything work, and run smoothly. But yeah, it was different recording this time, because I was recording it during the first official lockdown, when was that…? Back in March time, was it? April? I recorded the vocals at home in my house, which I had never done before. I kind of recorded them as guide-vocals, and I didn’t think I would end up using those vocals at all. Then when I was able to actually visit Daragh in Astakalapa Studios in Wexford, he worked his magic on the rest of it, and my guitarist, Aidan [Mulloy] added his guitar. And I kinda just said, I think the vocals are good! [laughs]. Somehow! The same ones I recorded from home. So we were delighted with that.” 

Was it a kind of a nervous day for Brí? Or exciting? Or perhaps one with a lot of tiredness in it, just wanting at that stage for the following day to arrive and everything to go according to plan? 


“I probably would be a bit nervous. I’ll probably enjoy it more once I know that everything is out, and all the links are working. I’m probably a bit of a perfectionist as well, I put a lot of work into doing my own PR for it, and giving it its best chance by sending it out to all the right people. I’ve got my coloured-coded Excel spreadsheets that I’m keeping an eye on [laughs], and once that all goes smoothly I will be excited, yeah. Once I finish work here this evening I’ll be able to enjoy it, because I’m amazed at the response so far which has been really affirming, which is nice.”

Brí has described Burying has being a song written almost in reaction to the way the world has turned today, in that everything needs to be seen as being ‘left’ or ‘right’, every issue has to be either black or white, and in many cases now, quite literally so. And that ‘have to be’ part can be quite forceful too. So Burying, while it’s not a political song, is most definitely a statement song. And very, very definitely a very personal song for Brí. I asked her if that was fair to say…


“Yeah. And it’s actually funny, because I didn’t have that in mind at the time when I wrote it. But it’s become that for me. It was an experience I had when I was writing it, I feel that there’s certain people you meet in your lifetime that they have a lack of tolerance if you see something in a different way to the way you do. And they need to convince you to see it their way. I’ve just always thought that was wrong. I like hearing peoples’ opinions. But I find that in today’s world, it’s sometimes hard to share that without feeling that you’re against one another. I really dislike any feeling of tension or argument, it just makes me want to get out of the situation and bury my head in the sand, and just go, ‘Yeah, ok, I agree.’ Because with some people, it’s just not worth having certain conversations with, I guess. And it’s just me learning that. Every time I listen to Burying now, for me it’s a mix of strength and weakness, because I know that sometimes checking out of a situation is a sign of weakness. But also there’s a bit of strength in it. I really wanted – and I was insisting [laughs] – on having tribal sounding drums [on the single], as kind of like an inner-strength, that I’m also feeling a little bit above having those kinds of arguments. Conversations don’t necessarily need to turn that way when you’re talking about controversial things or issues.” 

I would have to agree with Brí here. Sometimes staying out of some conversations or arguments on social media is an example of inner-strength, because you’re taking the decision to look after your mental health by not allowing yourself to become dragged into some of that stuff…especially of late.


“There’s a lot of people sharing strong opinions and views that I would agree with as well, and I’d say good for you, you’re standing up for what you believe in. Sometimes it can be seen as a negative, maybe if there’s a silence, that you’re on the opposite side. But for me, personally, I just think that everybody is entitled to believe what they do. It’s great that people are sharing their opinions out there, but it’s also ok if you do want to stay quiet on some of your own views. That shouldn’t be seen as a negative either.” 

So the way the world is right now had a very real influence on Brí writing this song. But I wondered if how this whole year, the way it’s been and the way it’s going, had affected her songwriting at all? 


“Yeah, and it’s funny actually, because overall I’ve found that I’ve written less because I’m not having as many experiences out in the world [laughs]. None of us are doin’ a whole lot right now [laughs]. So no, I haven’t been writing as much. But one of the first songs I wrote during lockdown had this strange kind of peacefulness. There was a lot going on in Dublin at the time and I had to move home again to Tullamore, and I hadn’t lived with my parents in about ten years. So suddenly, it was very quiet. I think a lot of people noticed around that time that there were no traffic sounds, so you could hear the birds singing again. I wrote one song that was very peaceful and happy. And I barely can write happy songs! Usually I would write a song because I’m going through something, so just to kind of let it out. So that was one song. I’ve written a couple based on the past, like memories of certain things if they’re triggered, rather than things that are happening to me right now. That’s probably the main difference.”

Burying is a gorgeous song, no doubt about it. Equally so, there’s no doubt that Brí has made an astonishingly beautiful video to accompany it. It stars – and stars is the word, because this is one very special performance – the fab dancer Lisa Hogan, and was filmed in Tullamore’s Charleville Castle. I asked Brí to talk me through that process that goes into making a video for one of her songs, and specifically, to how it led her to Lisa on this occasion…


“I really wanted to hear those tribal sounding drums in the song, and I could just see a dance every time I thought of a music video. So I really wanted there to be a dance to it. So first of all I was asking a friend of mine, Sorcha Fahy, who had been teaching dance before, to maybe teach me a dance. I had done a bit of it in college, but I wasn’t that confident so I was thinking we could work together on one. But she actually recommended a friend of hers who is a dance teacher, and that was Lisa Hogan from Birr. Originally we only went to the ballroom of the Castle to use it as a rehearsal space, and she was teaching me the dance. But I was just amazed at her doing it. So I said could she please be in the video instead! [laughs]. And she said he’d love to, so I was delighted. When I sent the video to our videographer – Alan, of Aldoc Productions – and he was looking at the background. Originally, we were actually planning on doing it at the beach, to go along with the photos I had taken and with the sand idea. But he said that room – the ballroom in the Castle – is beautiful, and I said you’re right, it would be crazy not to use that room. So we ended up doing it there. And Lisa is just…amazing! She must have done twenty or thirty takes of the video and she wasn’t even out of breath! I don’t know how she did it, she’s incredible. She’s a choreographer and dance teacher, and she just interpreted the music perfectly and came up with the whole thing herself. She kept asking me if there was anything I’d change, and I was just like, ‘No! You’ve nailed it!’ [laughs]. She was amazing.”

Brí has covered all the bases creatively on this release. There’s the audio aspect – of course – with the track itself. There’s the audio/visual element with the outstanding video starring Lisa. And, there’s the visual side of things to which Brí had briefly alluded to, a magnificent photoshoot she did with photographer Molly Keane on Killiney Beach in Dublin. As an artist who obviously puts a lot of thought and planning into her career and her image, I wondered how important is that image to Brí, and how it compliments her music? And also, how much of her focus goes into taking care of that through her social media? 


“That’s a good question. I think it’s something I’m starting to get better at. I suppose it depends on the song and if certain ideas come into my head that are really strong. This time I really felt that way. I felt I needed a long flowy dress in the wind, like on a cloud day. And luckily enough we got one, you can’t always bank on a cloudy day in Ireland [laughs]. They just turned out beautiful, and I just felt really lucky that they turned out the way they did. It’s definitely something that I really want to keep improving at. I think recently, I’m taking a little bit more care. But I wouldn’t say I’m the best at planning the old Instagram and having all the right photos in order, or anything like that! [laughs]. Sometimes I’m quite spur of the moment. Ya know, I mightn’t have thought I was going to post that day, but then I’ll just have a thought and decide to post a photo. But I would like to put a little more thought into it as I go on. I’m trying to keep similar themes. I suppose I think of the long, flowy dress as a kind of feminine frailty almost, that I want to keep running throughout the rest of my songs.” 

Having mentioned Lisa and Molly – who are clearly hugely creative in their own rights also – does Brí feel that, as an artist, she has – and maybe even needs – a certain kind of community of creative people that she surrounds herself with as much as possible in life? 


“Definitely, yeah. I think once I moved to Dublin, about seven years ago, once I moved there I really felt a support system coming together. I started going to songwriter nights and meeting creative people. And I just found that, as a whole, they were such an accepting kind of person, everyone I met. They were all so accepting of who you were, and happy for you and the things you wanted to achieve, and in helping you along the way. So I’ve learned a lot from other artists. And as I did my first two releases, I got to know various people like photographers, like Molly Keane who is amazing. And videographers like Alan at Aldoc Productions who is just so good, too. The biggest part for me was finding Darragh Nolan of Astakalapa Studios, I just feel like we’re a great team. He’s very patient and understanding when we’re working through what I’d like out of a song. And he also adds so much of his own creative ideas. There’s so many people. Aidan Mulloy, my guitarist, has been amazing. Whether it’s an unpaid open-mic night [laughs], or a big gig in Whelan’s or wherever, he’s up for it and he’s there with you. And he’s so talented as well. It’s a huge help. I’d say to anyone who might be trying to start out, to try and surround yourself with as many creative people as you can.” 

Burying is Brí’s third single, following on from her debut, Low Supply, and then Polite. But was that always the plan Brí had for the order of things? 


“I probably should have had a plan like that [laughs], but the truth is, no, I didn’t [laughs]. I actually didn’t know what I was doing when I first started. The first song – ‘Low Supply’ – I think I had written it only a year or two before that, and it was probably one that I was hearing that people liked the most when I was playing it ‘live.’ So I decided to go with that one first. ‘Polite’ then, was kind of quite catchy and again, a lot of people would ask me to play that one ‘live.’ So I decided to go with that one next! I actually didn’t have an original master-plan, and it’s only now that I’m trying to bed down which songs are coming next and how I’m going to wrap them up. I’m trying to figure that out at the moment actually.” 

Speaking of master-plans, as far as ‘live’ music as we knew it goes, the rest of 2020 can be written off. And the cold, hard truth of it all is that we have no idea what 2021 is going to bring for the prospect of ‘live’ music either. For Brí as an artist, how hard does that make it for her to plan ahead for her career? And on that note, what is she planning for 2021? 


“Yeah, well at the moment, I’ve taken a step back from my ‘live’ music plans. I’ve just seen so many friends of mine planning gigs and then cancelling them, and rescheduling them. And it’s pretty stressful for them at the minute. I’m lucky in that I’m working away at something else as well, so I can manage without the ‘live’ gigs for the moment. I’m focusing on recording at the moment. I wasn’t a big fan of the live-stream gigs, so that was one thing that I didn’t really jump on with everyone else at the start of lockdown. I think I did one of them, but it wasn’t the same atmosphere at all of having people around you and getting that feeling from the crowd. So yeah, I’m holding off for now on booking anything. But I’m hoping to get a lot more of my music out there, and to have that to promote on a tour hopefully some day.” 

For our last question, I wanted to take Brí back in time to the reasons why she first began writing songs. Who were the songwriters that had inspired her, and could she remember the very first song she ever wrote? 


“Yeah, I can. I was sixteen, and my late aunty Kathleen passed away. My mam is American, so we would have spent every other summer over there visiting her. And at the time, she would have been the closest person to me who had passed. So it was my first time really feeling huge emotions of loss. It felt like there were so many emotions that they needed to spill out into something else, rather than just be held in me. I was following a Taylor Swift documentary, I was a fan of Taylor when I was younger, and she said something like she just tried writing a song some day and she was able to. And that stayed in my head. I was a huge fan of Laura Marling at the time as well, and Birdy, they would have been my biggest influences at the time. So I just wrote a song kind of describing how it felt losing my aunty at the time. Then when I listened to it back, it was just so cathartic. I just couldn’t believe the relief. It was like it was bubbling over, but once I wrote the song it was somewhere else. And I could visit it, rather than it staying in me. So that was really nice. It was called ‘Picture Frames.’ The idea was that you had the picture frame, but the photo wasn’t there anymore. So it was all missing the face.” 


BURYING, the brand new single from BRÍ, is out now, and available on all platforms. Check out Brí’s YouTube channel to see the amazing video – starring Lisa Hogan and filmed in Charleville Castle – that accompanies the song. 

ENDS

Boyzone

First Published November 2018

BOYZ BOW OUT IN STYLE

Twenty-five years. Man, that’s a quarter of a century! It’s enough to make you feel old. Well, it is if you can remember that far back like it was yesterday. And for those of a certain generation, who grew up in that era when Boyzone first came to the fore and were at the height of their fame all those moons and issues of Smash Hits ago, it’s also somewhat sad to think that their latest album, the aptly titled Thank You & Goodnight, is where the last chapter will close on Ireland’s first boyband. 

By now, I think, it doesn’t even really matter if you like their music or if you ever actually did, for that matter. Because from their seemingly shambolic and now infamous Late Late debut, to the glory of sell-out tours, the heights of chart-topping singles, the prestige of number 1 albums, all the way to the incredible heartbreak of losing Stephen Gately so suddenly – and while still so young – Boyzone have been, more than anything, a bunch of Irish lads who knew they hit the jackpot and did their best to enjoy every minute of it. And for the most part, without ever losing any sense of who they were and where they came from. That’s not to say, of course, that there wasn’t bumps along the way, but hey, what road worth travelling doesn’t have its share of ups and downs, right?

Thank You & Goodnight sees the Dublin foursome of Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, and Shane Lynch, going out in style, presenting us with an album that’s insanely catchy from start to finish. But not alone that, it carries at its core the unmistakable confidence of men in control of their own destiny in life, at peace in each other’s company, and following their hearts in putting this album together. That’s the way it should always be, true. But it’s not always the easiest place to reach or thing to do, so when it happens, credit should go where it’s due.  Tracks like Because (co-written by Ed Sheeran, hit songwriter Amy Wadge, ace producer John Shanks, and Ronan), and Love (co-written by Gary Barlow and Shanks again) are already as good as anything the charts have seen in the last few years, and easily so at that.  But there’s more to come from this album, in the shape of Talk About Love, Loaded Gun, and Learn To Love Again

The one that’s going to bring a tear to your eye, though – even if you don’t expect it to, trust me, it will –  as it closes out the album, and the Boyzone story, is Dream, which features a vocal from Stephen. In fact, his is the last voice you hear, something I’m sure didn’t happen by chance knowing the place Stephen still holds in his ‘brothers’ hearts. The song has a feel of Take That’s Never Forget to it, in that you can easily imagine it being the song that would be the perfect finale for every show they perform for the rest of their careers. Regardless of whatever I may have thought of Boyzone’s music from time to time, I’ll never forget the genuine, completely heartfelt love they showed for their bandmate when Stephen passed away so suddenly almost a decade ago. 

Some moments bypass and supersede all others, and one such moment was when Ronan, Keith, Mikey, and Shane, decided they wanted to spend one last night with their brother, and stayed the night with him in the chapel where he lay at rest ahead of his funeral the following day. That simple, yet overwhelmingly powerful and emotional gesture, showed how close the five lads from Dublin had become during the years of their adventures around the world. When it all came down to it, what mattered most was one thing, and it was one thing that no-one could doubt was real: togetherness. They were five lads from Dublin at the start, and with Stephen’s voice being the last you hear on the album, they’re still just five lads from Dublin at the end of it all, too. And there’s something that’s very hard not to like about that.

When you throw in their biggest hits from back in the day such as Love Me For A Reason, Picture Of You, A Different Beat, Baby, Can I Hold You?, and even No Matter What (which I always found hard to take to myself, for some reason), and so many more, well this farewell tour definitely has the makings of a pop-party to remember. So, lest there be any doubt about it, the Boyz will certainly be going out in style. 

If they’ve gone out of their way to make sure that Stephen is still seen as an intrinsic part of the Boyzone story, and rightly remembered for his role in making the band one of the pop sensations of their time, it’s interesting to note that nowhere in the album notes is there even a mention of Louis Walsh, a man who, for many, is as much a part of the Boyzone story as Ronan, Keith, Mikey, Shane, and Stephen. It seems hard to imagine that this was something as simple as an oversight. And whatever the reasons for it, that’s up to the band themselves, it’s their decision. But it does slightly leave you with the feeling that there’s still something unfinished, unresolved about it all. In Ronan’s liner notes, he writes, “We made it up as we went along with no one guiding us and look what we created.” In his notes, Mikey writes, “To all our managers…”, but nothing more personal than that. 

But it is what it is. Not everything can be perfect, as much as we’d all wish it could be sometimes. And maybe that’s the best way of summing up Boyzone. It was never perfect. But beyond the music, it was never less than real. Watching them take to the Strictly Come Dancing floor for Children In Need last week, it was impossible to feel anything other than proud of what they’ve achieved and who they’ve become, and how much they’ve meant to so many people, of all ages now, all around the world.

And as far as I’m concerned, that’s something well worth acknowledging and celebrating. So lads, THANK YOU, and goodnight. 

ENDS 

Jo Petit

First Published October 2020

ADDICTED TO THE MUSIC

If you haven’t been feeling at least a little bit stressed out from time to time this year, then I applaud you. And I also need to meet you so that you can let me in on your secret, because if you’ve been livin’ stress-free in 2020, you’re among a very small number, that’s for sure. Most of us, and I include myself in this grand and somewhat sweeping statement, have been stressed out to some extent most of the time. And it’s hardly a remarkably candid confession or revelation to say that it’s not a cool feeling. However, if you’re someone like singer/songwriter JO PETIT, part of what you do is find ways to make life cool. Even in 2020 and with all of its seemingly unending stress! 


In fact, not only did Jo turn the stress he was feeling earlier this year into something cool, he turned it into a song! And there was only ever going to be one name for it…you got it…STRESSED OUT. Born in Mauritius, but now living in Dublin, Jo has a wealth of talent and experience to pour into the creative side of his life. From supporting pop giants such as Westlife, Boyzone, and JLS, performing at venues such as the O2, the RDS, and even Trafalgar Square, and rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in pop and rock history at times, Jo has learned to take almost everything in his stride. But this year has been different…


I had the pleasure of catching up with Jo last week, and I began our chat by putting it to Jo that his new single has pretty much perfectly summed up how everybody has been feeling these past few months, to which he replies with a good-natured laugh, “That’s what it’s all about!” But, he’s done so in a very cool, chilled out, and fun kinda way. I asked Jo to tell me how he came to write Stressed Out


“Basically, what happened is I had a beat, because I do production as well, and I knew that was cool. That was August, I think, last year. But I’d put it aside for a while. Then the lockdown came, and it was really, really stressing. Because all of our bookings and everything were going [Jo also fronts one of the country’s most in-demand weddingand corporate event outfits, The Dream Band], everything was being cancelled. So then I started to feel really stressed out, ya know what I mean. Obviously I wasn’t working, so I was like, you know what, I’ll do a bit of production, that will take my mind off things. Then just before opening up, one of the last sessions I did was that song, I was just singing, [sings] ‘I’m so stressed out…’, you know [laughs]. It took a few little changes to get it right, but yeah, that’s how it came about.”

Stressed Out was produced by Billy Farrell, a man whose name is well-known on the Irish music scene. So how did Jo and Billy cross paths, and what made Jo think Billy was the man for this particular project? 


“Well, I had the beat, you know, and I had put it aside. But then I started writing, and it started with one song, then two songs, and before I knew it, I had about ten songs written. And I actually didn’t know Billy Farrell at the time. I’d always comment on his posts and say something. I knew he was a producer, yes, but I didn’t know to what level, to what extent. I messaged him and said I had a couple of songs, and would he mind having a listen and telling me what he thought about them. I used to write for a company in the UK, co-writing, you know. They put the ideas out there, and then I can pitch something from there. But this was my first time writing from scratch. So I was thinking they were probably all rubbish [laughs]. But all I wanted was an insight of what he thought. So Billy said, yeah, send them over. Between that time of sending it over and hearing back from him, I checked out more of his work, and I was like…Oh…My…God! This guy is just gonna trash me! [laughs]. He’s gonna chew me up and spit me out, that’s what I thought, because I didn’t know who he was [laughs]. I started to feel a bit like I probably should have just shut my mouth! [laughs]”

Billy, by the way – just to offer some context as to why Jo was thinking that maybe he should have kept his mouth shut – has worked with artists like Bonnie Tyler, Brian Kennedy, The Corrs, and Westlife. 

Jo went on with his story…“But then he came back to me and he was like, ‘Jo, those songs are great.’ And I was like, whaaaaat?! He said yeah, really good. I asked him what did he think of the lyrics, because I’d never written a song from scratch on my own, and he said yeah, they were really well put together, well constructed. I had 80% of the production done already. So as the song is now, that’s the way I originally produced it, we just changed a few sounds, like the drums, made it more modern, changed the rhythm a bit to give it that more tropical vibe [laughs], that feel-good vibe! So we started from there.”

While Jo may well have been impressed with Billy’s bio, there’s a few big names that stand out in his own one as well. Try Lenny Kravitz, Whitney Houston, Chris De Burgh, and Paris Hilton for size! 


“I was born in, and grew up in Mauritius, where they’re are loads of high-profile, big-name hotels. And I used to sing in different ones. And I love what I do, so I would work seven days a week! Even if I had three days off! I’d call somebody up and ask if I could come in too, that’s the way I was, I wanted to learn. I would have been seventeen or eighteen at the time. So over time, I was getting better, and obviously getting involved with bigger bands. I’m a quite powerful soul singer, so I was going with these bands to do massive shows, funk and soul, and I loved it! At that time I was doing acoustic trios and part-time with bands too. There was a hotel called the San Geran, which was a massive hotel, and this is where all the celebrities would be going to. One time we were gigging there, and I noticed a familiar face! [laughs]. And I was like, I know them from somewhere. And I was asking the musicians and they said, oh, he’s here every year, and I thought then well that’s why he looks familiar. I probably saw him last year or something. But it was Chris De Burgh! [laughs]. We ended up exchanging a few words, and I met Rosanna Davison at the time, she was young herself too. The whole family. We started chatting, and it became a kind of every night thing, going in and saying hello. But back then I didn’t know he was from Ireland. And I met Whitney Houston out there as well, at the same hotel. Then, I was performing at the launch of the Hilton Hotel in Mauritius, and the Hilton family was there, including Paris. And Lenny Kravitz was performing on that night as well. I’ve also performed for the Prince of Dubai, too.” 

I suggest that Jo is obviously not a man who gets nervous in front of a famous face? 


“Well, it helps when you don’t know them at the time! [laughs]. I’ve been very lucky with those types of things. Once, I was just doing my thing, and this guy comes up to me and he says, ‘Hey man, you have a really good voice.’ And he looked like a rocker guy, you know. Then somebody said to me, ‘Do you know who that is? That’s Lenny Kravitz!’ That blew my mind! I actually felt nervous after that [laughs]. I went to say goodbye to him later, to say it was nice to meet you, you know, and I was literally so shaky! [laughs].” 

As well as being a solo artist with his original work like Stressed Out, Jo is also a part of The Dream Band, as previously mentioned. But before The Dream Band…came the boyband! Once upon a time Jo was a member of the Irish boyband The Boulevard, supporting the likes of Boyzone, Westlife, and JLS. I wondered how Jo looks back on those times and experiences now, and how much did he enjoy them at the time? 


“I absolutely enjoyed them, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was difficult at the time, because it’s not a nine-to-five job, it’s a twenty-four hour job, seven days a week, flat-out. Between rehearsing, keeping fit in the gym, all of that. It took literally every minute of my life. That’s the part that I probably would have changed if I could have [laughs]. But I really wouldn’t change a thing, because I learned so much from it. I’m somebody who’s very observant. If there’s a situation I’m in, I’m gonna learn from it. So that time taught me a lot of things. Observing the managers, the way they work. It wasn’t only the music for me, and the fans and the screaming girls, it was observation. How do they work? What are they doing? Why are they doing that? That taught me a lot for my career up to now. Now I’m able to manage certain situations better. And if I hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t have been able to approach certain people. After that time, I went to Scotland and worked with some extremely good songwriters and producers, through my experience in The Boulevard.” 

What was the most important thing Jo learned from back then, from observing everybody and what they were doing? 


“Professionalism. Professionalism. There’s nothing else I can think of that was that important. It might have been that people would manage a certain situation in such a professional way, that I would have thought, oh my God, this is something I need to remember. And even now, The Dream Band, which I founded, I founded based on those experiences of that time. So I know how to manage my own business on a much more professional level than if I never had the experience of being in The Boulevard and doing everything I did in that time.” 

This has been a crazy year for everyone, and it’s still really crazy for most people in the music business because any kind of normal – nevermind the normal we knew – still seems so far away. As an artist, and a creative person, and also just on a purely human level too, how has Jo been dealing with the strangeness of 2020? 


“Well…2020 is definitely a year I’m pretty sure everybody will remember! [laughs]. Especially artists. Because everything – all the bookings we had, everything that was set in stone – just literally…I mean, you would think that the entertainment industry is one that cannot break. Because as long as there’s music, we’ll be working. And then reality kicks in and says look, everybody else is now back working, and we’re not?! We’re not untouchable. There’s lessons to learn there. And it would be better for Stressed Out if there was gigs and I could perform it ‘live.’ That would have been great. Because with The Dream Band, we do a lot of weddings and corporate, and we travel all over Europe performing. You could put the song in your set to let people know it’s out. But there’s absolutely nothing. It’s a stand-still. The song is out…but now what? [laughs]. So yeah, it’s had a major impact on that side of things. Musicians are addicted to what we do. And not having that is hard. Not even talking about just paid gigs. Like sometimes, you’ll just do a gig for fun. And not even having that hit…that’s why so many musicians I’ve been talking to are stressed out. Actually, I was talking to one who said he was out of his mind, and I said yeah…that’s a good line for Stressed Out [laughs]. If you think about it, this industry is so big. There’s the musicians, but then the P.A. Hire, rehearsal rooms, dancers, singers…it goes on and on. That impact is just so huge. But at the same time, I don’t think the people who make the legislation have thought about it that way. They’re like, ok, no musicians are working. But what about the rest? What about event-planners? Venues? Everybody else is this huge industry that’s now just at a stand-still.” 

Well one thing that Jo has been able to do, thankfully, is put together a video for Stressed Out that’s every bit as cool as the song itself. And indeed, at the time of our chat, views of the video on YouTube had already gone well past the 100,000 mark. Jo told me all about putting that side of things together…


“We were obviously planning that in advance, but then the government said we were going to shut down for a month or two, and then everything was going to go back to normal. So we were planning to have a bunch of people at the beach and have a real tropical vibe with it. So myself and the director, we had designed a full set and started getting people involved, we needed about fifty people there for the end, all clapping and dancing and singing the song. And we were going to do a bit in a venue as well, on stage, you know. There was a whole plan going ahead. But then, about ten days before we were due to shoot the video, they announced that the lockdown was not going away, nowhere was opening, no weddings happening, no groups of people meeting, and all of this! [laughs]. So we had to literally strip everything then to the bare minimum. But it was very enjoyable. We were like, ok, cool, let’s make it like a kind of scenario where you wake up and the minute I leave the apartment that we hired, from that time until going to the beach, it’s just me trying to get away from all the craziness! It still works! There’s just a lot less people involved. Because we couldn’t have done it the way we planned it, and then have everybody see that we’d done it at a time when people were not meant to be together that much. This is why we ended up really stripping it back, and having less people in isolated places.” 

To bring our chat to an end, I asked Jo what’s next on his schedule for 2020, in as much as it’s even possible to plan anything right now…


“I’m just hoping that we will see more consideration given to the events industry. Up to now, there’s been no thought or emphasis on it. I think they just need to consider the thousands and tens of thousands of people who are out of work right now in this industry. Music, at the end of the day, and entertainment, it’s something that people look forward to. If there’s a show, people plan weeks in advance. Even musicians as well, knowing that something is coming back, that would lift our spirits. We were meant to have a gig this week, but then they were saying that Cork might be locked down, and that’s where our gig was. We’re literally working on a day-to-day basis not knowing what’s happening. For 2021, I just hope that everything goes back to some kind of normal [laughs]. So that we can go out gigging and promoting. Because what I’ve found out is that it’s so hard to promote anything if you’re not able to go out and show it to people. Ok, I can do so much on video, so much on Facebook, but then…there’s nothing else I can do. And then it’s destructive for the art itself. Because you start questioning yourself, am I doing the right thing? Because it still costs money to do a song.”One thing is for sure, though, and that is that no matter what happens, Jo will remain addicted to the music.

STRESSED OUT, the brand new single from JO PETIT is out now, available on all platforms and to request from radio

ENDS