New songs by Irish musician Paul Quin pay homage to queer experiences and societal shifts of our nation

The project, which can be described as a “personal renaissance” for the artist, features both charming and thought-provoking songs surrounding the lives of LGBTQ+ and Irish people.

A stylised image featuring a person in a window holding the earth
Image: Steven Peice

After taking a 10-year hiatus from music, well-known Irish musician Paul Quin is making a comeback this year with a brand new album Life On Earth. Ahead of the project’s October release, and with the debut single ‘A Better Place’ coming out in March, GCN sat down with the artist to uncover the inspirations behind this upcoming record. 

Having explored a wide range of genres throughout his career, along with establishing himself as a pioneer of electronic music, it is no surprise that this album will feature a wide mix of sounds both old and new. However, the most fascinating part about his album, one could argue, is the lyrical storytelling involved.

“It’s storytelling set to beats and melodies,” Paul explained. “I would hope that people get a lush listening experience while also being able to hear the stories that are being told… The grim, the grimy stories that are on the album; of loss, bereavement, drug addiction, homelessness.”

Each song tells its own unique anecdote, many of which are “quite autobiographical,” Paul admits. As someone whose gay identity is a hugely important factor in his life, there is a clear reflection of queer experiences decorating the album tracks. “One song in particular, ‘The Absinthe Bar’, is about meeting a man in Paris and having a whirlwind romance that lasted one night – that’s probably the gayest song on the album!” 

“I’ve tried to ensure that the lyrics aren’t just relating to our community, but I think everything I do is flavoured with my own experiences so you can be certain that there’s a lot of romantic queer feelings in there.”

Along with his gay identity, Paul Quin also holds immense pride in his Irish roots. The proof is in the list of contributors to this project, the majority of whom are queer, or Irish, or both! On the significance that partnering with these Irish creatives held for him, Paul explained that it “felt very important to have an Irish identity to this record and to know that all the collaborators and all the people involved were Irish and had the Irish experience.”

“I think it’s kind of flying the flag a little bit… My Irish identity is very, very important to me and I would love if that came through on this record. It’s an international-sounding pop record but very much with an Irish core.”

The artist has a fascinating history in the Irish music scene. In fact, the first single from the album, ‘A Better Place’, was originally released in 1989 when Paul was the lead singer of synth-pop duo, Biazzare. The track was an outcry against the rampant homophobia in Irish society at the time. Paul made the decision to revisit this single for a number of reasons, one of which was to pay tribute to his late bandmate and friend, John Butler, who sadly passed away due to an AIDs related illness in 1998.

“I was 18 years-old when I first wrote [‘A Better Place’] and there’s a lyric in there, ‘When you turn the corner hand-in-hand with fear,’ that was my experience of leaving suburbia every weekend and coming into the City, and coming into The George and The Parliament. Every time you turned a corner you weren’t sure what you were going to meet physically. Would it be hostile? Would it be violent? Would it be dangerous in some way? And in that song, I try to capture that feeling.”

“I wrote the song with my musical partner who passed away back in ‘98, I also wanted to bring him back into my current day story. We wrote that song together, it was our shared experience, and really it’s a nod to the life that we had together as musical partners.”

Growing up as an openly gay person during a time when Irish society was infected by homophobia, Paul has faced a lot of ridicule throughout his life. These experiences eventually caught up to him, leading to “a breakdown point about 10 years ago”, causing his prolonged hiatus from music. “I went through quite a lot of personal problems at that time – issues with self-medicating, and it had forced me to go right back and look at some of the effects that homophobia had had on me in my life.”

“Going through that experience with counseling and talking to somebody professionally kind of unleashed a new sense of creativity in me that I think had become blocked… That’s really what this album is about. It’s a kind of a personal renaissance.”

Life On Earth, the debut full-length album by Paul Quin, is due to come out in October of this year with the first single, ‘A Better Place’, being available to stream this March. Visit the artist’s official website to stay up to date with all of the important release information.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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