"It Was A Really Raw, Personal Song": Jack O'Rourke Releases New EP 'Ivory Towers'

With the release of his new EP, Jack O'Rourke talks inspirations, coming out and moving forward musically.

Musician Jack O'Rourke posing in front of a bright background looking away from the camera

So Jack, how does your new EP Ivory Towers differ from your Dreamcatcher album?

With Dreamcatcher, a lot of the songs were written in a ten year period, when I was not out, when I was experimenting with stuff and then a move to acceptance. It was a really honest album, really raw album, very personal. The songs on this are equally, personal, they kind of have to be, but very fun. In terms of themes it’s quite happy. Thematically and even musically it’s a shift in gear.

In ten years, genre wise I went from rock to blues to jazz to chamber music, but since Dreamcatcher came out in 2016 I’ve been working with a lot of people who influenced me. There’s a myth out there that songs fall from the stars, but more often than not it’s hard work. Stylistically I think they are all romantic and hopeful, maybe even sexy. They are more tongue in cheek compared to the first album.

Is it intentional to try all these different styles of music?

I remember I heard Neil Young and Linda Ronstadt say that they didn’t ever sing anything they didn’t hear growing up. I grew up in a household where I would hear everything from Pavarotti to The Rolling Stones. At the moment there seems to be this annoying trend of trying to put people into a box. Neil Young in the ’70s might record a grunge album, then he’d do a country album and then he might record with an orchestra – he’s still the same songwriter, it’s just he’s interested in a lot of types of music. It bothers me how quick we need to label things – not just in music, in people.

Would it be hard then to attract a loyal following?

People like to be challenged, and not in a way ‘I’m going to play modern jazz now and you’re going to like it’! But a good song is a good song.

You were saying the difference between this and Dreamcatcher is you are more open about your sexuality. Did this have a knock on effect on your songwriting? In love songs, are you very aware of using ‘he/him’ in your lyrics?

I was on the first album, and certain songs ‘transitioned’ after I came out. In terms of using pronouns, I wan’t even conscious of doing it on this album. I’d hate to wear my sexuality on my sleeve as my only form of ownership, it’s there, it’s obvious, it’s something I embrace and I’m proud of but it’s not the only thing about that defines me.

Do you find that since you came out it’s always a question in interviews?

Yes. I think the torch song of the previous album was ‘Silence’ which became the Amnesty song for the referendum. It was a really raw personal song, I think for a lot of people still it can’t be separated from me, that they still associate it with me. I still like playing it, but I’d like to write a song that says, ‘It’s happened. Now take me as I am.’

Finally, Jack, is there ever time off as an artist? Or do you always have the urge to write?

I always have the urge to write. It’s like waiting for an earthquake, waiting for the muse, she’s such a diva though, you always have to wait. But when it happens it’s magic. You know in your gut if something you are writing is worth developing and exploring.

Jack O’Rourke’s EP ‘Ivory Towers’ is released on March 8 while the single is available on Spotify. Jack will perform live at venues across the country. For more information, check out his Facebook page.  

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