Q&A: Alex Tierney

Irish singer-songwriter Alex Tierney released his second single, ‘Painkiller’ this month. The support he received so far is extremely positive and, with the likes of MTV, Vevo, iHeartRadio, Niall Horan, and Lewis Capaldi reaching out, very promising for the future.

Words: Megan Hofman

For people who have not heard your music yet, can you introduce yourself and describe the sound of your music?

My name is Alex Tierney, and I’m a 21-year-old songwriter from Dublin. I take inspiration from tons of different places, so my music would be best described as a singer-songwriter and contemporary R&B lyrics and melodies with more Hip-Hop and Pop production.

What made you get interested in writing/making music?

I’ve played instruments since I was a kid because my family is musical, and so it was always just part of my life. As a teenager, I realised the creative aspect was what grabbed me and I started writing songs, I’ve been hooked ever since!

The current COVID-19 situation has had a big impact on the music industry. Has the lockdown interfered with your creative process? If so, in what way?

It definitely affected my writing, for example, ‘Over the Maybes’ was written and recorded entirely in lockdown, I might not have had that song without this situation. I felt a big burst of inspiration at the start of quarantine then I went through a period where I just didn’t feel inspired at all, but now I’m really happy with what I’m writing! I feel like the covid period has sort of taught me to slow down and take my time with things. I guess in a business as fast-moving as the music one, you can get so used to just going full speed with everything, but when you’re creating sometimes you need to put something aside and come back to it three months later.

Could you tell us about your writing/recording process?

Most of the time with my writing I’ll either write the full song on my own or come up with an idea on the piano or guitar, I’ll then bring it to a producer and build off that. Other times it might start the other way around and we’ll work on production first and then I’ll start writing melodies and lyrics over that. I just try to follow what feels right for the song.

What is the story behind ‘Painkiller’? 

‘Painkiller’ is a song about that first, crushing feeling of heartbreak when your mind is overwhelmed with a million questions and thoughts about what went wrong. Just being desperate for something to take that pain away so you can escape the reality of the situation because you just can’t face the fact that it’s over. It’s one of those songs that I think just fell out of me. With some songs, you remember trying so hard to write it and the process can be very slow but other times the songs just come naturally when you don’t expect it and they can be the best ones.

The live video of ‘Painkiller’ is beautifully shot underneath a waterfall on the north-west coast of Ireland. Where did this idea come from?

The ‘Over The Maybes’ lyric video showed off the natural beauty of Ireland and it felt like it fit with my music, so we continued that with this beautiful waterfall location that keeps that visual theme going but also reflects the lyric “My love keeps me all out the past, keeps my head over water” from Painkiller. I think just me and my guitar in that big open space adds to the vulnerability of the stripped-back performance of the song.

You supported Lewis Capaldi in Dublin before any music was released, not many artists get an opportunity like that. How was that experience? 

It was such an incredible experience and I feel like it couldn’t have gone any better. I only found out about the gig two days beforehand, so it was just an insane couple of days in the best way! Lewis and his team couldn’t have been nicer and accommodating. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. It felt like a real special hometown gig because the crowd was so welcoming, I think seeing a local artist opening for such a huge international artist made the crowd want to support me, I couldn’t have been happier that night!

We know you have been working hard in the studio, writing and recording new music. What can we expect from the songs that are still to come? 

I’m excited to show people the songs I’ve been working on, I think they show off the different influences in my music and I’ve tried to tie that all together in a way that feels different, but right. 

What are you most excited about at the moment? 

I’m most excited for when gigs can start happening again, both of the songs I’ve released were put out during lockdown. I can’t wait to see how people react to those songs live!

‘Painkiller’ is out now. Find out more about Alex here.

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