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Declan O'Rourke

Declan’s debut album in 2004, Since Kyabram, debuted at no. 5 on the Irish Charts and scored  double-platinum sales, earning him three Meteor Awards nominations including Best Male, Best  Album, and Best Folk/ Traditional Album, as well as landing him a recording contract with V2. His  debut album launch took place over three sold-out nights in Whelan’s, one of Dublin’s most popular  music venues, broadcast live nationally on Today FM.    The debut single ‘Galileo (Someone Like You)’ hasbeen recorded and performed by many  artists,including singer Josh Groban who cut it for his album Illuminations. Declan performed  ‘Galileo’ at the 25th Anniversary Gala Celebration of Ireland’s National Concert Hall, at the opening  ceremony of the 2011 Solheim Cup, and at the BBC-televised ‘Proms in the Park’ with the Ulster  Orchestra in Belfast.    O’Rourke’s versatility live has resulted in successful appearances in concert halls, clubs and on  television. He has played for three Irish Presidents, and the King and Queen of Sweden (with Peter  Jöback). He appeared on two seasons of the popular music show Other Voices, as well as season  five of BBC’s Transatlantic Session alongside Alison Krauss and Amos Lee.    Declan has guested with New Zealand indie-sensation Bic Runga, and 3multi-platinum alternative  rock group Snow Patrol throughout Europe, including London’s Wembley Arena.    He has also performed at such festivals as Glastonbury, Oxygen, Electric Picnic, The Cannes Film  Festival, Latitude, Cois Fharraige, and SXSW. Declan’s own shows have included The Paradiso Club,  Amsterdam; The 100 Club, London; The Waterfront Hall, Belfast—his sold-out performance at  Sydney’s Basement venue was broadcast on Australian TV’s ABC network.  In 2012, Declan performed alongside Bono, Damian Rice, Lupe Fiasco and Bob Geldof at Electric  Burma, a concert in celebration of Burmese Humanitarian Aung San Suu Kyi. At the 2013 Oscars,  Declan played the Oscar Wilde awards in LA for such luminaries as Steven Spielberg and J. J.  Abrams.  April 2013, Declan sold out an eight-night residence with a string quartet at New York City’s  Donaghy Arts Theatre. The residence was a smashing success and was raved about by Jon Pareles  of the New York Times.

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Declan O’Rourke
Declan O’Rourke has achieved critical acclaim for his songwriting, singing and performance. Jon Pareles of The New York Times said there was virtuosity in his guitar playing, with ‘intricately contrapuntal picking and meticulous dynamic,’ and that his calling was as a balladeer.

“He writes the sort of classic songs that people don’t write anymore, songs that sound like they’ve been around forever […] Listen to Galileo, which is possibly the greatest song written in the last 30 years.” – Paul Weller, Mojo Magazine (Apr 2012)

Declan was a latecomer to the Dublin singer-songwriter scene. A native of Dublin, when he was ten  years old his family upped sticks to Australia for a few years before returning to Dublin, where  O'Rourke spent the remainder of his adolescence. Despite having a keen interest in music and  singing from an early age, it was during his teenage years spent in Melbourne that he first got hold of  a guitar. O’Rourke was exposed to a different cultural aesthetic at this point which, coupled with his  own well-formed cultural identity, may account for his unique style of melody and melancholia.     Back in Dublin, his mid- to late-teens were a fun-filled stretch of busking and Commitments-like first  bands, occupied by, he remembers, “endless rehearsals and charity gigs.” Somewhere along the  way he accidentally stumbled on a brand new, never-before considered concept: writing his own  songs!    The plan, however, was interrupted once again by his lust for life, and so he followed his older sister  back to Australia. His life back then was captured, not just figuratively, between creativity and  cement: as he slowly honed his craft as a songwriter, he worked by day on building sites. His hands  became, “more calloused by guitar playing than by manual labour,” he laughs. By the time he was  twenty-four, having still never played his own material to a live audience, he felt it was time to  scratch the songwriting itch or forever regret it. Back to Dublin, then. Somehow, home soil felt like  the right place to start.    Within a month, upon discovering Dublin's bustling songwriter open-mic circuit, Declan found  himself mixing and trading songs with the likes of Paddy Casey, Gemma Hayes and many other Irish  singer-songwriters. “I went to as many open mic nights as possible and just played anywhere I  could,” he recalls. “And it went on from there. Every step up was an achievement. I was always  looking at the next step ahead of me and really enjoying it. It hasn’t stopped since.”    In 2004, Declan released his debut album, Since Kyabram. He regards the comfortably haunting  debut as little more than a collection of songs and an introduction to the different styles he  subsequently intended to use. “I was also trying to break the moany singer-songwriter myth – I  definitely didn’t want to be put into that category.”    Such was the critical and commercial success of the album in Ireland that it opened the doors for  him internationally, earning him plaudits from the likes of Paul Weller and Jonathan Ross, each of  whom were rapturous in their praise of Declan’s deep-honey voice and astute song writing abilities.     His follow-up album in 2007, Big Bad Beautiful World, easily consolidated his appeal in Ireland as  well as with his growing list of well-connected champions. Support slots followed in the UK and  Europe to the likes of Snow Patrol, Teddy Thompson, The Cardigans, Paulo Nutini, Badly Drawn  Boy, Divine Comedy and Paul Weller, and before too long major labels started calling, siren-like, for  his signature on the dotted line. O’Rourke has since been through the major label mill and come out  the other side – smiling (eventually!), we’re glad to say.   

Declan O’Rourke
“I had a great relationship with the people who worked with me on the first two records,” he admits.  “I’d been reading for years about people having control of their own music, so I felt it was time to  start. I’m sure I’ve made the right decision.”    He’s a free man, then, with a free frame of mind, and a new record label he can, quite literally, call his  own. And on his new record label he releases his third album and first independent offering, MAG  PAI ZAI, which sees him maturing as a songwriter in ways he would, most likely, have never thought  possible.    Word is getting out, slowly but very surely, about Declan O’Rourke’s songwriting skills. Don’t be the  last to find out.