"I hope people get strength and positivity from my music. It’s very honest and pure, very much from the heart" – hmv.com meets Damien Dempsey
As Dublin singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey prepares to release his new 'Best Of' compiltion It's All Good, we sat down with him to talk about his early years in Dublin and how he doesn't sugar coat things when it comes to songwriting…
Your new album, It’s All Good, is a Best Of collection, how do you look back on the likes of Dublin Town and your earliest songs? With nostalgia or dread?
“Well, Dublin Town would have been out around the late 1990s. I had gone to the Ballyfermot Rock School, then I had some sort of a deal with a small Dublin-based record label which, through a bit of production and mixing in the studio, gave Dublin Town a more pop-oriented, reggae/ska feel, and then it got on to the radio. A lot of people liked it, but many thought it was a bit of a gimmick. It wasn’t at all.”
What other things do you recall about your early song writing experiences?
“Oh, a fair amount would have been filtering through from the mid-90s, which was when I went over to Manhattan. I worked in a bar called Rocky Sullivan’s, which was run by a guy from a band called Black 47. I worked behind the bar and also as a bouncer, and then I’d play once a week."
"I remember it well - it was on 29th and Lexington Ave, and there’d be a lot of poets, songwriters and intellectuals there. We’d have some great discussions and debates, and from those I’d get some good ideas for songs.”
You’ve been creatively associated with the likes of Sinead O’Connor, Brian Eno, Morrissey and John Grant over the last 10 years, how do you look back at that period of your life?
“I’m just a fella that writes a few songs. I work hard at it. I have more than a few songs that are very good, I think, but I write loads of them and make sure the melodies are strong. I hope people get strength and positivity from my music. It’s very honest and pure, very much from the heart. I don't beat around the bush or sugar coat it. It’s a bit brash and hard, but, as we all know, sometimes life is like that.”
And what about your gig in hmv tomorrow (February 15) – looking forward to it?
“I’m excited to be playing live in HMV Henry Street this Saturday. I love the intimacy of playing to a small crowd, and I’m looking forward to meeting people who have come along afterwards. It’s great to see HMV back. They’ve always been great supporters of my music, and Dublin town wasn’t the same without them!”
Damien Dempsey will be performing live in hmv Henry Street, Dublin. Click here to find out more details. You can pre-order his new collection It's All Good here from our download store.