Ryan's sort of homecoming
Singer-songwriter and Britain's Got Talent finalist, Ryan O'Shaughnessy, talks to John Manning about where he's come from and where he's going, and a 'sort of homecoming gig' for the Loughshinny man at Ollie's Place in Skerries on March 27
Three years ago, Ryan O'Shaughnessy shot to fame first on the Voice of Ireland and then on Britain's Got Talent where a self-penned song captured the hearts of a nation and thrust him into the public spotlight.
An awful lot has happened since then with Ryan shooting to number one in the Irish charts with his first mini-album which also gained him a top ten spot in the UK.
But despite that early success, just a few months after the release of that short album, he parted ways with his major record label, Sony and now, with about a hundred new songs up his sleeves he's back in Fingal to begin his comeback.
The Loughshinny singer-songwriter has chosen his neighbours in Skerries to play host to his first Irish gig in quite a long time as he takes to the stage at Ollie's Place on March 27. Looking back on an eventful three years and looking ahead to a bright future, Ryan took time out to speak to the Fingal Independent this week.
So what has the talented songwriter been up to since leaving Sony at the end of 2012? Well he's been doing what he does best - writing songs.
Ryan explained: 'My plan was, since I left Sony at the end of 2012 was to go the independent route. I went down to Grouse Lodge recording studios in Mullingar and I recorded a whole album and funded it myself.
'We spent a great couple of weeks down there recording and I was all ready to set up my own label and do the whole thing myself but I came to the conclusion that I can't do it all myself so at the moment I'm searching for a new record deal and someone to work with in that sense.
'Basically what happened was, they (Sony) came to me straight after Britain's Got Talent and asked what songs do I have. I said well, here's my six songs. I haven't been writing that long so here's my six tunes.
'They said right, let's record them all. I said that's deadly and we went ahead and recorded them and it did really well so they came straight back to me and said they wanted a new album in a month and that really freaked me out. It wasn't the way I wanted to go, I wanted to spend a bit more time on it and now I have.'
Three years ago, Ryan found himself at the centre of a tug of love between two of the world's biggest record labels as he turned up on rival television shows, with links to both Universal and Sony Music.
Ryan explained: 'I applied for Britain's Got Talent first and my mother applied for me to go on The Voice. I didn't want to do The Voice to be honest, because I'd seen 'You're a Star' and seen the production they did on that and I didn't think it was great but my mam said it would do me no harm so I did it.
'But then I ended up getting on to Britain's Got Talent after I did an audition up in Belfast. I travelled up there with a couple of mates and thought it would be just a bit of craic. We skipped the big queue outside and walked straight into the Hilton somehow and walked straight into an audition. I did the audition and left and didn't think much of it after that and then, I ended up getting through on The Voice and Britain's Got Talent.
'It did do me harm in the end, I ended up between two of the biggest record companies in the world - Universal and Sony and I had signed contracts with both of them, because they are not going to let you go on the programme with signing with them so you sign your life away.'
Asked why he was prompted to get involved in the television talent shows, he said: 'I really just wanted experience from it and I thought if I got onto Britain's Got Talent and get an audition then at least I would have a Youtube clip for life that would give me a bit of exposure - and that's exactly what happened.
'But then people started to say, didn't I see that guy on The Voice as well? It was pretty close to me being kicked off Britain's Got Talent. I had said nothing to the producers in the UK and I went in to where they tell you if you have made the semi-finals or not and they cleared the room and asked me to stay.
'They turned off the cameras and Simon Cowell said to me: 'You're on another show. We found out you're on another show and it's a rival show.' So they told me they couldn't let me go through. Simon said to me, I had to do something about it, if I wanted to stay on the show.
'So, I had lawyers and all sorts trying to get me out of the contract with The Voice and somehow I got kicked off the very first round of The Voice so I don't know what happened there - there might have been a shake of hands or something, I don't know, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me because then they were able to show my audition (for Britain's Got Talent).
'I was trying to stay positive - the day before the audition aired I got a phone call to say they had done the edit and they were going to show my audition. The next day it went live and I suppose the rest is history.'
Ryan's audition clip went viral and he became an early favourite on the show, which was eventually won by a dancing dog - something Ryan looks back on with good humour. He joked: 'It was kinda tight between me and the dog. I was watching Krufts the other night, and guess who makes an appearance on Krufts? That dog!,'
Looking back on that crazy time in his life, Ryan said: 'It's all a big blur to me now, to be honest. You can't change your past and you can't change your future - whatever will be, will be. If I could go back, I wouldn't change anything because it has brought me to here and I'm happy and life is good.'
While the singer-songwriter might have been seduced by the trappings of fame at the tender age of 19, his focus now is all about the music and with over 100 songs demo-ed over the last couple of years, he is searching for a new record label and says there are offers on the table.
He said: 'There are number of options for me at the moment and it's about choosing the right option for me. I need to decide what angle I take with it. Some guys want to take me in one direction and others want to take me in another direction but I know which direction I want to head and it's not the commercial, pop scene that I want to get stuck into - that's not for me. I want to play music that everyone can listen to and actually get something from it emotionally, not have it be just about the bass line or the hook.'
Who inspires you? I can find inspiration from anyone. It could be a stranger of a family member of a sentence from someone passing on the street.
What is your greatest achievement? Putting my mind to it and making it to the final of Britain's Got Talent.
What is your happiest memory? Travelling in Croatia in the summer of 2014 and ending up a music festival called 'Dimensions' listening to Roy Ayers playing live - I was happy beyond reason.
WHEN Ryan O'Shaughnessy comes to Ollie's Place on March 27 the good people of Skerries will be treated to the first public airing of a whole string of new songs from the talented songwriter.
The local singer-songwriter has been busy writing new tunes and even on the day the Fingal Independent met up with him at Ollies, he had written a new song that very morning.
Ryan explained: 'What I am at the end of the days is a songwriter. I must have 100 demos now on my laptop and there's songs in there from all sorts of genres from acoustic love songs to soulful and funky songs to electronic music.
'With this gig in Ollie's I want to take people on a journey through all of that as the night goes on. I'm going to start off nice and calm and mellow and hopefully pick it up as the night goes on and get some of the electronic tunes in at the end.
'I'm going to play alone but a few members of my band are coming out so I might get a few of the lads to come up for a tune or two - we'll see how the night goes. I'm going to be using a loop station too which I've got used to using and I can loop in harmonies and all sorts of thing with that.'
He added: 'With a lot of these songs, the gig at Ollies will the first time I've played them live.'
The Britain's Got Talent star said: 'I'm just really looking forward to this gig in Ollie's. I think it's going to be nice and intimate and I've never played here before so I'm really looking forward to it and I hope there will be a nice crowd down here.'
Ollie Grimes is the man with his name over the door at Ollie's Place and while, along with his brother, he is no stranger to music himself, as part of an occasional tribute act to another Grimes duo, he is really looking forward to hosting Ryan's gig.
He explained how the gig came about, saying: 'The whole thing happened very organically. We had a few beers over Christmas and he said he would love to do a show here so we put it together from there.
'It's going to be an intimate gig and we will have a lot of Ryan's friends and family down and it will be first come, first served after that. There's no money involved and there's no cover charge on the night.'
Ollie added: 'He's back to his hometown really in a friendly and intimate atmosphere.' Ryan agreed, saying it felt like a homecoming and would be a real 'community gig'.