- Words Cal McIntyre
We catch up with our favourite romantic Sinéad Harnett amidst isolation to talk the journey of healing, finding light in the dark places and the power of slowing down.
In September last year, in much simpler times, we caught up with Sinéad Harnett who was just about to step fully into her own spotlight with the release of her illustrious and silky album ‘Lessons In Love’. The album cemented Harnett’s status as not just a powerful vocalist, but as one of the most intimate storytellers in the UK scene with her brand of post-midnight R&B.
Whilst the world carried on, Sinéad went onto tour the UK and the states with a long list of sold-out shows. It wasn’t really a surprise, the album is brilliant and Sinéad’s light can be found woven into the tracks that pour and spill into one another taking you on a cinematic but realistic journey of what love is.
Obviously, Coronavirus happened and nothing has been the same since for every single person on the planet. When it comes to the creative industry as a whole, every individual is adapting and evolving or either pressing pause and using this time to really reflect and practice stillness. Both are the right thing to do, you can’t practice the previous standards of productivity in the middle of a pandemic. That’s what Sinéad is learning.
When Sinéad and I try to connect with the now world-famous and probably hated Zoom, the Zoom Gods are not in our favour so, we head over to the good ole FaceTime for a catch up to see how miss Harnett is doing almost a year on from ‘Lessons In Love’, how she is managing to stay positive and creative amongst all of this chaos and if she has learned any more lessons about love.
One thing is for certain, Sinéad isn’t going to stop making music. With new music just around the corner, it’s the little things like hearing Sinéad’s honeysuckle and tender voice that helps you find escapism from the world and that will never change.
It’s now a tricky question when asking someone how they are – there’s an obvious sense of foreboding that follows with it. Sinéad tells me she’s good, but continues, “I’m just so sad for the world right now – it’s a weird one when you feel generally okay and positive, but so many people are experiencing loss and pain.” Sinéad continues that, like many other creatives, she’s never really taken any form of time off before. “I’ve never paused,” Sinéad tells me, “the amount I have learned already, and the amount of luck and gratitude I have right now for being able to work from home is such a blessing. Even though it is extremely difficult at times, and with mental health being involved, I do just feel really lucky to be able to continue to create at home.”
From our last interview, I remember that Sinéad is a flat out grafter. No days off, always on the move and making music. Now, with nothing but time on our hands, Sinéad tells me that “Once I broke through the first week or two of lockdown when my motivation was really low, I just realised how much I can do from home, and it’s funny because I’ve never been able to write music at home. I find it hard to be productive at home, but humans are always going to be great at adapting. It just dawned on me though that all that time I spent before lockdown – going to ten meetings a day, constantly on the move – that wasn’t actually working smarter. It was just working hard. So, I’ve thankfully broken through the ‘can’t work from home’ phase and I’ve been able to write and record – I’m as busy as I was before, I’m just not breaking my back doing it.”
Living in a capital city and being a part of a creative industry can leave you feeling like you’re a hamster in a wheel that is really neverending and burning the candle at both ends. Sinead tells me that the most rewarding challenge she’s learning right now is trying to find a stillness within all of this. “I think being calm and rested is great for anything in life, but we are all going through tough emotions right now which can fuel creativity. However, I’ve learned that if you’re going through these feelings plus being exhausted and not being healthy, then it’s just a recipe for disaster. So, I’m really learning the balance of everything right now, which I am really grateful for, plus actually having the time to reflect on a lot of experiences and emotions.”
With the narrative of love, and Sinéad’s growing understanding of love and its many forms, she started the year with a breakup. The best thing that Sinéad always does is seeing the positive of things, no matter how small they may be. “I started this year with a journey of trying to really depend on myself – loving someone but trying to love myself more. It’s going to be a lifelong process I think, but as long as you are on that journey that’s all that matters. I’m getting more comfortable with who I am which seems to be coming through in the tone of my writing.”
In terms of the new material, – Sinéad reveals, “I will always be inspired by love, but, I feel like a lot of the first album was me searching for answers and comfort, whereas now I am not as much on that search as I’ve realised all the answers are within me. The tone of the new work will less ‘woe is me’ [laughs], but I hope I will always be able to create a certain type of vulnerability within my work. I guess the difference now is that I’m more self-assured and not grasping anywhere I can for love and answers.”
Whilst so much uncertainty surrounds us, it’s nice to know that Sinéad Harnett is always going to remain a humble and talented artist who graciously shares the journey of losing yourself to find yourself through her sonically beautiful work. Times are tough, but we are all discovering it’s tough to be soft and there’s a certain power in remaining tender through the hardships. With more music on the way from Sinéad, it’ll make that journey of being kinder to yourself easier.