As very much a product of Ireland’s ‘street scene’, Paddy Casey’s emergence from the world of boisterous busking into that of nuanced singer-songwriters has been a quiet, heartfelt revolution.
The Crumlin man came from near-homelessness to signing for major label Sony BMG, selling as many records domestically as U2 in the early-noughties as he rose to prominence with folk-pop records, Amen, and Living.
His musical life has unquestionably been a little slower in recent years.
“I did used to think about the album sales and stuff like that,” he says, after we point out Living sold approximately one copy for every 20 people in Ireland.
“I really don’t know how those sales happened, but I’m really grateful for it. Before that I wasn’t homeless, as I always had the busking to make a living.
“You really feel the difference with that compared to really being homeless. People are nicer to you; they don’t look at you the same way.”
The busking gave way to a fame that always came with a slight discomfort for Casey, particularly on stage.
“I don’t know if I’m as nervous anymore, but I’ll never completely stop being nervous,” he explains.
“It’s more adrenaline, maybe. I do imagine the worst all the time; it’s just who I am. It’s a weird thing, but it works for me. I’ve had a few people warn me never to change it, but it’s good to be nervous.”
The scene has changed dramatically, however, from the one Casey grew in.
“The internet has really changed things now,” he says. “I think it’s a lot harder to make a breakthrough, really, as there’s so much noise. There are so many different bands.
“Music now is better than it’s been in a long time. Not everything, there’s always been some bad stuff, but I don’t mind the charts. I’ve always liked pop.
“It’s harder to get heard now, though. Lyrically, I think people are clever; there’s a lot going on and a lot of talented artists. There is a pop album in me, I think.
“One side of the new album is kind of pop, not as you’d hear on the radio, but pop as I remember ‘pop’. Rocky pop. I’m still learning.
“Every album is different; I’ve never really had a ‘thing’.”
The singer has long lived a nocturnal life, perhaps in part because of his career path. “It’s just the way I am. I was thinking about it, actually, I think some people are just like that.
“I try to sleep the night before a gig, to switch it up, but sometimes it’s like playing in the morning to me. I can’t really do things at daytime, I think it’s because the world’s awake.”
While Casey runs through plenty of the hits on stage, there’s a heap of new music on the way.
He’s currently working on a double album, consisting of an acoustic side and a rockier side.
“I felt like some of the songs just didn’t belong together on an album, they’re too different and they didn’t fit,” he says.
“I decided to make a double album. Loads of people keep asking me to make an acoustic album, as I haven’t done that in years. I guess in that way it links back to my first album that I made [Amen].
“It’s a quieter album about things that have gone on in my life.”
That life – as a family man – is somewhat different to his harder roots, so much so that Casey’s daughter, Saoirse (a talented musician in her own right) makes things a family affair gigging alongside Paddy.
“We’re doing it for the craic, really,” Casey explains. “But she’s very talented, she’s produced a whole album herself already. It’s nothing to do with me. But it’s brilliant.”
Paddy Casey plays Leopardstown Live on June 14, alongside his daughter, Saoirse.