SON: the new Irish prodigium

Photos by Colin Shanahan - -

Italian version of the interview is HERE.

If you’re lucky to have a trip to Ireland in the next weeks and come across some music festival, it will take few  minutes until you hear talking about her, Susan O’Neill, best known as SON, age 26, Irish singer and multi-instrumentalist musician since she was 10. The historic HotPress magazine (with the prestigious journalist Olaf Tyaransen as a mentor) has called her a sort of new musical prodigy; Bono has even asked her telephone number to congratulate with her. Susan has learned to love music and play more instruments because her mother was scared to let her going out alone, as a little girl, in the streets of Ennis. Then she joined Ennis Gospel Choir, falling in love with blues and soul. She studied music at Waterford WIT School, joining the local Propeller Palms and King Kong Company bands and taking part at various important festivals such as Groove Festival, Electric Picnic and others. She has just released her first solo album Found Myself Lost.

We have the pleasure of meeting acclaimed young Irish songwriter and musician Susan O’Neill, aka SON,who has just released her debut solo album, found myself lost. Susan, how did you get into music?

Well, I’ve always loved music and have been playing for about as long as I can remember. I actually played the trumpet in my local brass band in the west of Ireland from the age of 10. Growing up, I was listening to people such as Tori Amos, Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, Simon & Garfunkel and lots of Irish folk legends. Axl Rose was also something of an influence… just the rawness and jaggedness of his voice. I began writing my own songs atthe age of 13 and included some of these on my debut album, found myself lost, which I released at 25. It is a collection of autobiographical songs tracing my life’s journey and my growth from an adolescent girl into adulthood.How long did the album take to record?I recorded it over the course of about a year, going into Sun Studios in Dublin whenever I could afford studio time.We’d try to do a couple of songs each session. Being in the recording studio is actually one of my favourite parts of the whole process. I love the focus of it. Just being locked away in a studio and totally immersed in music every day – and often night! – until you achieve your creative goals. I really love having the band around me as well because sharing music is everything.

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With social media so prevalent, how difficult is it for a young musician to reach visibility nowadays?

Music is an unusual path to take. It can be a hard road and there’s no shortage of people trying to get noticed.There is no right or wrong way to get seen or heard, you must follow your instinct and hopefully get some good advice along the way. You also need some luck. For example, Hot Press magazine in Ireland asked me to perform a U2 cover for their website a few months ago. I did ‘Exit’ from The Joshua Tree. The day after it went online, I was contacted out of the blue by Bono who said some very nice things about my version. That caught some press attention. So every little helps!

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Now that you have released your first album, what are the next steps?

I’m doing a lot of live shows. It is festival season in Ireland so I will be busy for the next few months gigging around here. Outside of my solo stuff, I sing with two other bands–Propeller Palms and King Kong Company – and I’m touring a lot with them as well. In fact, I’m playing Glastonbury with King Kong Company next weekend,which I’m really looking forward to. I am also writing a lot of new material at the moment. There’s lots of live music in Ireland so I get to see so many bands and singers that keep inspiring me to get better and better (Eddie Vedder was brilliant in Dublin last week). On July I will see U2 show at Croke Park, and many fans on Twitter asked me joining on stage with them! In August I’m playing the National Concert Hall with Sharon Shannon, which will be amazing. I’ve always wanted to play there.

Any plans to come to Italy?

Hopefully! I played once at an outdoor gig in Stresa and it was one of the most beautiful gigs I have ever played. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking. I would really love to return do another show in Italy soon.

Well, SON, last question, what is your big dream? To become a pop star or…?

I just want to share my songs with anyone who feels them. I also would love to spread a positive message encouraging people to do what they love and to be themselves. It is music that helps me to do this. Finally I want to never stop learning, until I become the best musician I can be. I’m hopefully in this for life.

SON’s debut album Found Myself Lost is available HERE.

Found Myself Lost Spotify

Twitter SON

Facebook SON Music

SON Site

Translation and review by Claudia Assanti.



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