‘I’ve put the unexpected time at home to use’: Orla Gartland on “Pretending”

Orla Gartland has grown into herself a lot over the past few years and like many other people in 2020, she has brought a lot of things into sharp perspective – now she is someone who makes music every day and is pretty damn grateful for that. “I want to write songs that are full of an almost uncomfortable honesty, real experiences and feelings,” the Dublin singer-songwriter tells EARMILK at the top of our interview about her newest single, “Pretending”. Gartland is the type of musician that is easily contempt, if someone else hears what she is singing about and gets it then that is the best thing ever for her.

Before getting into a discussion about her new single with EARMILK, Gartland expresses how much she misses touring the most at the moment, specifically the messiness of it, the drama of it, the moving around, seeing peoples’ faces, and also hearing people sing her lyrics. “I even miss shit rider food in the dressing room,” she enthusiastically adds. But like a lot of artists, Gartland put this unexpected time at home to use and has written a hell of a lot of songs and she has treasured the chance to work on her production. Gartland expands, “It was cool to dive into each demo as much as I did, sometimes spending 2 whole days on a single verse or a whole day just playing piano.”

On to her new single, “Pretending” though, it is a song about identity and how exhausting it is to pretend to be someone you’re not. Gartland details the meaning of the song: “I feel like I spent years going to parties full of new people and being a total people pleaser – ending up in conversations where I could hear myself back talking in a way that I don’t usually talk. I don’t have the energy for that anymore.”

Gartland started writing “Pretending” with her friend and co-producer Tom Stafford back in 2019. Over lockdown she dug it back out, reworked the verses and wrote the outro. Having all of that time in between gave Gartland a lot of perspective on the idea. When Gartland revisited the song, she really knew where she wanted to take it and what feeling she wanted the song to give. In fact, her new song sounds like frustration and exhaustion. It sounds like thinking too much per se.

orla gartland · Pretending

“A lot of the songs that will follow are inward-facing and explore the idea of identity,” Gartland reveals on why she wanted to create the single. “I indulged and wrote a lot of break up songs for my last EP ‘Freckle Season’ and by the time I started working on this new era I had said all I had to say about the dissolving of a relationship – so these songs are about me and my own thoughts.”

From what EARMILK was able to to get out of Gartland, her forthcoming debut album is sounding and feeling good, Gartland is really proud of the songs on it. “Getting to play with my band again after not touring all year was the biggest release ever,” Gartland concludes in our chat.

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