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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

YouTube artist defies all odds

Published: October 10, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Orla Gartland was 13 years old when she posted her first video on YouTube, after only about a year of being able to play the guitar. Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, Gartland first learned how to play the violin and fiddle, but it wasn’t until she was 12 that she got into the guitar. At first, Gartland posted covers of pop songs, from Beyonce’s “Halo” to “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes.

Soon Gartland was writing her own songs and posting them online. She sang practically every song in front of the soon-to-be famous yellow wall in her bedroom. Gartland says that her inspiration comes from folk/pop artists like Joni Mitchell and Regina Spektor. After posting countless songs on YouTube, her first official single was “Devil on My Shoulder,” released in 2012. The track reached No. 2 on the Irish Singer/Songwriter charts on iTunes. Gartland was 17 years old.

Since then, Gartland has been gaining more and more popularity. Her YouTube channel has over 10 million views, and her first EP “Roots” was released in November 2013. Since then, Gartland has gone on tour and will soon be releasing her second EP.

Part of what makes Gartland so great as an artist, in addition to her amazing voice and playing skills, is how real she is. Having started out by simply picking up an instrument and singing along for fun, Gartland truly loves making music and is always so grateful for the success that she has had thus far. “This tweet is a reminder that I fancy you,” she posted this week.

Always reaching out and talking to her fans on social media, Gartland recently announced a new project. In lieu of the release of her second EP, Gartland is going to make a music video for the title track.

The song is called “Lonely People.” “It’s not at all as grim as the title suggests,” Gartland said in a YouTube video. “It’s a really upbeat and hopeful song. It’s about youth and not wasting it and not wasting your days.”

And now, fans have the opportunity to show how they are living their days. “I want footage of real people. Real people, real footage … and that’s it.”

With a deadline of Friday, Oct. 10, fans all around the world can send Gartland footage that may be used in her music video. Footage shouldn’t be edited but rather simple, raw video of people. On Oct. 11, Gartland will begin watching all submitted clips herself, and then begin putting them together into the music video. After, every person whose footage is used in the video will receive a goody bag from Gartland, including exclusive posters not available to anyone else. In 2011 Gartland had a similar contest, where fans sent in EP artwork.

It is projects like this that show how passionate Gartland is about her music and her fans. “Roots” was No. 1 on the main Ireland iTunes charts, No. 15 in the U.K. and No. 2 in the Singer/Songwriter chart in the U.S. With her success only growing, one can expect great things from Gartland’s second EP, to be released sometime this month.

Gartland is an upbeat and folky artist. Her songs stick in your head and are great to sing along to. Look out for her new EP this month and check out her YouTube channel for more details on her music video footage submission details.