Cork singer-songwriter Rebecca Houlihan in the zone

Downtown catches up with Rebecca Houlihan about her new single ‘Voices’, life performing on the road in Australia, and adapting to lockdown
Cork singer-songwriter Rebecca Houlihan in the zone

Rebecca Houlihan: The lyrics flow from deep within.

Explaining the inspiration behind a song and its writing process is never easy, but for Rebecca Houlihan’s new single ‘Voices’ — a collaboration with producer Kevin Sunray as part of his Trilogy Of Life album — the lyrics flowed from deep within.

“I was sent the instrumental track from Kevin and immediately felt this real mystical, haunting vibe with the song... sometimes I go into this natural high when writing — it’s a real creative sensitive heightened place — I started just singing from this rawness I had inside me and I put all my emotions into the song.”

Rebecca has infused the song with a perspective that will resonate with many.

“It’s written from the point of a view of a woman crying out for someone to hear her, to help her. She can’t get through to the one person she depended on and now she can see that person is forever lost.”

“She pleads, ‘I don’t want to cry anymore, I don’t want to breathe anymore, I can’t feel anymore’, she is tormented by the pain and suffering of listening to the voices of other people and not following her own heart to be her true self.”

I always wanted to sing, but I had this fear of people looking at me and judging me

The idea of not fully trusting your own instincts is something Rebecca had to overcome herself on her journey to blossoming as a singer and songwriter,

“I always wanted to sing, but I had this fear of people looking at me and judging me. There was never anyone actually doing anything like that, but I had created that mindset in my head. I remember being with my friends and in school, they would ask me to sing and I’d close the door in the toilet or make them all face the wall so they couldn’t look at me — thinking back at that now makes me smile, that I kept pushing myself through it. I never stopped writing and singing, but what I was always dreaming of was to be performing with bands, it was something I was so hungry for.”

Rebecca Houlihan: “I always wanted to sing, but I had this fear of people looking at me and judging me.”
Rebecca Houlihan: “I always wanted to sing, but I had this fear of people looking at me and judging me.”

To achieve that dream, the theme of listening to herself comes to the fore as she drove herself to get through this shyness.

“I moved to Australia with my friends in 2010 and I made a promise to myself that I would really give my music a stab. I auditioned for a band called Crazy Fish in Sydney, I ended up getting the part and had one week to learn a 30-song set list and front a six-piece funk band for my first ever gig; it was in The Tokyo Hotel in Darlinghurst in Sydney, which is not a quiet spot at all!”

After finally getting through her first live concert, Rebecca started almost living on stage as she got involved with more and more concerts with several styles of music,

“I played with Crazy Fish in a lot of venues and was exposed to so many amazing music opportunities. I was involved in an original blues country band called Kind.

“I performed in a huge competition called the ‘Toyota Star Maker’ and was one of the runners up. Then I met a guitarist and songwriter called Ben Chakarovorty and we set up a blues, rock & soul band called Wisemans Circus. It was real heartfelt blues and rock music; the music was intense and the band were simply electric. We had such an amazing time performing in different venues.”

I’ve been writing for years and years — I remember being so small and writing about a fly that got in my dad’s rice

Returning home in 2014 gave Rebecca time to also return to creating her own material, which she has done since childhood.

“I’ve been writing for years and years — I remember being so small and writing about a fly that got in my dad’s rice — my mom still has that at home somewhere! I always wanted to be a singer and was always creating songs and poems. Music has always been like a second home to me — I feel so comfortable when I’m singing or recording and writing. it just feels right, it’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”

To keep active musically in the live environment Rebecca joined a band called Poet’s Whisper. “We did a lot of cover gigs in venues and pubs, wedding ceremonies around Cork before Covid hit.”

The resultant lockdown made Rebecca refocus her energies.

“When it all happened in a weird way I was almost delighted to have all this new free time to be creative with original music, I really just immersed myself. I’m lucky to have the spare room in our house set up as a music room. We are so lucky nowadays with technology, it’s so much easier to record at home and make quality recordings as well.

“It was crazy but great how we could write and record ‘Voices’ — because Kevin lives in Greece and I was in Cork throughout this whole process.”

While the song was recorded remotely and separately, the video for the song was shot locally and with collaborators.

“I’m so excited for the video, it’s absolutely amazing. Jarek Sowinski directed and edited the video, and my boyfriend and Jarek’s wife helped us on the day, it was great fun — we shot it down in Fountainstown Beach a few months back and it was absolutely freezing.

Returning home from Australia to Cork in 2014 gave Rebecca time to also return to creating her own material, which she has done since childhood.
Returning home from Australia to Cork in 2014 gave Rebecca time to also return to creating her own material, which she has done since childhood.

“We were up at the crack of dawn down the beach — I’d say people were thinking what the hell are these lunatics up to! — there’s a lot of running, dancing, and singing into the camera and it really suits the song — it’s moody, dark, mystical, emotional, and free.”

You can follow Rebecca on Instagram at houlihanrebecca or on Facebook here.

‘Voices’, her single with Kevin Sunray is available on Spotify and Youtube.

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