TYG: “The hostel have my guitar in storage, in case it’s used as a weapon”

by James Hendicott

TYG’s road to the world of music has been an unusual one.

The Dubliner has always had a passion for writing and melody, but developed his sound and met people to record with during his time at Dublin music college BIMM. Simultaneously, as well as releasing singles this year, he’s made progress in his long-term recovery from addiction. The pandemic’s hit at the wrong time, however, and he’s found himself without somewhere to stay.

Now, living in emergency accommodation with his guitar under lock and key, he’s taking one of the more unlikely routes into a half-paced music, as he struggles to get his life back on track.

A series of singles released this year introduced his sound – a brutally honest, folky take on life – but his latest addresses specific issues in his life straight on.

‘Lord Do You Hear These Prayers’, out this week, focuses on things like sometimes feeling like giving up is just easier; a feeling of being beaten down but fighting on. It opens “living on the doll, living on the breadline,” and is about “clothing yourself and how you survive.”

“I released my first song at the start of this year,” he tells us. “That was basically down to meeting a lot of great musicians in BIMM, where I spent a year doing a CPD course, and they said they’d help me release a song. They really helped me make it reality.”

“The latest single is about addiction. It’s quite different to the other tracks I’ve released. I’m not literally quoting people, but I definitely use people I’ve met and places I’ve been to paint a picture.”

“I was in treatment for addiction and renting a place, so I was in treatment centres and then in recovery houses, sober houses,” Tyg says of his situation earlier this year. “I got clean and I’ve stayed clean. When Covid hit, I had moved from the recovery house to my own place. The landlord pulled out, and I’d already handed the keys back to the recovery house, so I couldn’t get back into my old place.”

“I was landed in emergency accommodation, where I’ve been now for quite a few months. I keep focusing on my music and what I’m doing, and stay positive. Dublin city feels like a ghost town at the moment. The hostel I’m in, on St Stephen’s Green, it would be one thing if town was buzzing, you’d leave the hostel and go into the city. But everywhere’s quiet and closed, so it’s a very strange time.”

“It doesn’t help that the hostels are full of drugs,” he continues. “It’s been a real challenge to go in there and stay clean, but I’ve done it, and I’ll continue to do it. I want more from life, so I have to. The longer term thing is to get myself out, to find somewhere to stay. I’ll keep soldiering on until I get somewhere. It’ll be alright.”

The hostel stay also makes playing his music – which has already been recognised with mentions in Hot Press and radio features – particularly difficult, with restrictions on TYG’s access to his equipment and difficult conditions.

“The hostel have my guitar in storage, and won’t let me have it because it could be used as a weapon,” he laughs. “It’s hard to think of a worse weapon really. I can’t rehearse, which is very difficult, so I just do a lot of writing without the guitar. I’ve played for long enough that I can write without the physical guitar in my hand, so I do that.”

“I had to go to the studio to record the single without any practise, which was very tricky. This song was very grounded in reality for me. The housing and the addiction are two very separate things. There are a lot of addiction services in Dublin, though some of the treatment centres, AA meetings and stuff have shut down because of the lockdown. People have really struggled.”

“On the housing side of things, it’s very difficult. You’re looking at shoe boxes, one room studios are a disgrace with the rental price. It’s just greed, absolute greed.”

TYG’s music has roots that long predate his current difficulties, though, and he leaves you with a sense that it’ll still be around when his issues are specks in the rear window, too. “I discovered a love of music as a child,” he recalls. “Writing songs was what I discovered I love to do, and I just never stopped once I got started. I’ve got a heap of songs now. I don’t know about a heap of good songs, but a heap of songs. I’ve been happy with the reaction to it, of course.”

“Before all this, I did a lot of open mics, and played places like Vicar Street, when I was younger. The long term thinking is to keep working and keep releasing music, and obviously with things so uncertain at the minute, I don’t think anyone really knows what the future looks like.”

“The hardest thing when you’re starting out is getting people to listen to you. Social media helps with that. A lot of the stuff I haven’t released is about my everyday life and stuff like that. I didn’t want to just be releasing love songs, even if they’re real. I’m trying to tell my truth a little bit.”

“I think I’ll do two or three more singles and then start working on an album. It’s harder to focus on albums these days because people often listen to singles now, with Spotify and all that. But I’ll get there.”

Lord Do You Hear These Prayers is out on Friday, December 4.

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