18-year-old Roe Byrne is a staple of Grafton Street, a rising star of the Dublin busking scene who has broken out into the more mainstream music world. With his first headline show ever freshly under his belt – a show last weekend at Dublin’s Sound House – Byrne’s prolific songwriting looks set to open a world of opportunities in 2023.
In fact, with latest single ‘Set Me On Fire’, Byrne feels like he’s setting a tone of sorts for the coming year, as he looks to build on over a million video views, achieved shortly after completing his leaving cert and heading to college.
“I busk most weekends, depending on the weather and my schedule but it absolutely changed my life,” Byrne says “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing right now if I hadn’t started busking. I was always the shy kid in school, I would carry my guitar around every day and I got a bit of teasing for it but I just loved sitting in the music room at lunchtime singing.”
“Busking made me so confident, it gave me an outlet and an opportunity to perform in front of strangers, which is a lot easier than performing in front of people you know. I was a total introvert before I started busking, but now all I want to do is to sing to as many people as possible. It changed my life in so many ways.”
While much of Byrne’s busking career centres, as is traditional, on covers, his own songs have a distinctly personal angle, with his life filtering easily into his music.
“I definitely write about my own experiences,” he says, “but I take a lot of inspiration from what’s around me. Stories that other people have told me, situations that friends of mine may be in and even just the people I meet on a random day busking, they all have a story to tell, it’s just getting that message across with a catchy melody that’s the hard part!”
“I try not to write about negative emotions, I feel people have enough negativity in their lives and use music as an escape! So I try to pick the best parts of life and try to make a sense of either nostalgia or hope with it.”
“I have so many songs now, but a lot of them I would find too personal to perform or release. Maybe someday when I feel comfortable being extremely vulnerable, I might release some songs that I wrote about my own struggles, but as for now, I think playing in front of people and having them judge you as a stranger is a pretty vulnerable position to put yourself in, though I absolutely live for it.”
“Writing consistently definitely makes it easier, it’s the same as everything, the more you do, the easier it gets.”
As for the big year to come, Byrne says “I plan to have a few singles coming out this year, I suppose the main theme would be relationships. Not just romantic relationships, but all kinds of relationships. I have a new song that I wrote with my friend Conor Marcus and produced with the incredible Ed Porter. It’s another one of my favourites that’s to be released this year.”
Overall, 2023 will be about “writing, recording, gigging, repeat! I have a lot in store for this year. It’s definitely going to be my most successful year so far, following last year’s many successes, I have huge hopes.”
‘Set Me On Fire’ by Roe Byrne is out now.
Photo © Dan Butler Photography