The Irish artist had just come off a gruelling year-long campaign for his 2018 album, Sweet Decay. So overwhelmed by the pressure of it all, he began seeing a therapist. When the feelings he’d previously been unable to express began to rise to the surface, instead of writing them down in a diary, he turned them into new songs.
“Going to therapy, I was trying to unpack a lot of things in my head. Previous to that… in a professional sense, I was losing my idea of the end goal. I was trying to please so many people, and that was a part of my personality that I’ve had to learn to flush out. It became impossible, and I realised that some of that was self-inflicted. In a personal sense, it was like, everything seemed to be organised and then up to about 2017, everything slowly unravelled until the only thing I had left at that stage was my dog, Hugo. Outside of that, I couldn’t have hung my hat on any real direction, any ideas. I was thoroughly empty in that sense and could have been led in any which way. I was a bit of a ghost. So with therapy, I thought I should try and work everything out rather than float down this road and in and out of other people’s lives”.
“Making the album was trying to take some form of control back, and knowing there were some things I needed to take responsibility for – and other things not so much. It was timely, as [in therapy] I found the language to be able to talk about these things, to talk about different feelings in adult sentences. I was also then able to write them down, and within that be a little playful in terms of what I talk about, I could have some fun with it. I understood the power of being able to control the narrative as a writer. It’s like everything, with songs and with records, it’s like a polaroid of a certain point in your life, and once that picture’s been taken you can close the door on it”.