Moncrieff: Waterford’s alt-pop star on a steady rise

by James Hendicott

There were plenty of barriers to Moncrieff pursuing a life in his colourful, emotive brand of pop music, from social pressures at school to a gut feeling that it wouldn’t work as a career at home.

He’s jovial and outgoing, though, and prepared to spill his life into his heartfelt, poetic melodies.

A move to London to commit fully was the kickstart he needed.

“There were no avenues really to pursue modern music, just the choir,” Moncrieff says of his upbringing in a small town outside Waterford.

“The choir was social suicide, really. I did love singing, I probably would have enjoyed it, and the occasional musicals, but growing up I didn’t want to stick out. I was a sportsperson.

“I didn’t start doing things publicly until I was 18, in a band, and played local school shows. It snowballed for me – I became obsessed.

“As soon as I decided I was going to make music, I realised that it was what I wanted to do, a dream to chase, and that it could be done. It’s been done before, so why not?”

He continues: “I knew London would make the learning curve steeper. Difficult, but worthwhile.

“There are a lot of people that succeed in Ireland but never achieve anything in the UK.

“Sometimes, the quality in Ireland isn’t in the spotlight elsewhere, and there is so much quality.

“I knew I’d learn a lot more and get a lot further outside of my comfort zone in London.”

Since arriving across the water, Moncrieff’s Irish success has seen a massive uptick, with his show at The Soundhouse selling out extremely quickly, and his forthcoming Academy main room date showing his progression.

“For the first few months I couldn’t get on at open mic nights over there,” he laughs.

“Later, I figured out when to get on for my time of music, how to get my name down, stuff like that.

“I did so many nights, and I learnt so much. I learnt so quickly, and that’s what London represented to me. It made it much easier to perform live, which is everything to me.

“One thing that’s very important to me is that what I do is genuine. I don’t think it’s possible to do anything else without people seeing through you,” he says of the tracks that appear on his EP, The Early Hearts.

“It’s the story of the early days, of everyone who impacted me as an artist, a collection of personal stories.

“You want to give something genuine, something that is real, but you don’t want to dictate to the audience how they should see it.

“Ultimately, the power lies in being able to see yourself in the song, and evoking a feeling the listener has. It sounds a bit airy-fairy, but it is about that connection.

“Some of my songs are very close to the bone. I wrote one of them about trying to get back with my ex, and leaving it way, way too late.

“That song has to come out and tell that story, and I spoke to her about it, and told her I didn’t think she should listen to it. Obviously, she did.

“You never really know what the reaction is going to be, but it was ok.

“I think as long as you go into it with a positive heart, I hope people I sing about can’t be too offended!

“For the average person, it can be about whatever they want it to be about. It’s not really ‘my’ song once it’s done.”

Moncrieff plays the Soundhouse (sold out) on December 19, and The Academy on April 26.

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