Tag Archives: Ireland

The Darker Side…the story behind the song

It’s Saturday, the weather is beautiful and I’m sitting outside with a glass of wine… and coffee….life is good! Wine, coffee…sunset…perfect moment to write a blog. Writing this blog has been going through my mind for a couple of weeks now, so it’s time to get it out of my head and get the story written!

A couple of weeks ago Robb Murphy’s song ‘The Darker Side’ was added to a playlist called ‘Music to Grieve to’ on Spotify. A playlist with beautiful songs from well and less known artists:

This got me thinking about the story behind this song and that it would be nice to share a bit more about it and write a blog.
The Darker Side is the only song from the album ‘Sleep Tonight’ that was not written in Italy. Robb wrote the song in May 2013. Around that time he was preparing the recordings for the album Sleep Tonight. He wrote blogs about the songs for the album and shared a lot of demos. I remember that Robb told me that he wrote The Darker Side, it came together very quickly and when he shared the demo with me I remember him saying that it was kind of a heavy song. I listened and loved the song right away. I could relate to the song, it’s a song that brings comfort. Shortly after Robb wrote the song, he shared the demo online, not being aware of the effect that this song would have on people and what this song later on would mean for himself, because a couple of weeks after Robb wrote this song, his mother unexpectedly passed away.

In the past few years we received a lot of good feedback to ‘The Darker Side’, but not only that. More than once people have shared their personal stories and told us how much this song has helped them while dealing with loss and grief or going through dark times. Those stories make us aware of how powerful a song can be. Robb writes a lot of songs, all written, composed and created from the heart and for himself. Only a small amount of songs make it to an album or EP. Sure we hope that people will listen and will like the music when an album, EP or song is being released, but we’re not aware of the effect that a song may have on other people at that time. That only happens when people share their stories and tell us how a song has touched or affected them. Whether a song has made people do a happy dance, has put a smile on their face, helps them through dark times or people simply can relate to a song…it’s special to hear those stories and it shows the power of music.

Back to ‘The Darker Side’. It’s a song that has developed a lot over the years and there are a lot of different versions of the song to find online, but it all started with this demo:

Robb and the band started playing this song live, but it wasn’t until 2014 before the song was recorded as part of the album ‘Sleep Tonight’.

Robb finished the recordings of the album at the end of July 2014. It was sent off for mastering and right after that he and his fiancée (now wife!) went on holiday. During their holiday they filmed several acoustic videos of songs from the album Sleep Tonight. One of those songs was ‘The Darker Side’. A different version of the song was born.

The album ‘Sleep Tonight’ was released in March 2015. Not long after the release of ‘Sleep Tonight’. Robb was invited to perform an acoustic version of ‘The Darker Side for The Arts Show (BBC TWO). The producer of the show had seen the acoustic video recorded in Italy and said that that version would be a good song to replicate. Below the result:

Due to the great feedback Robb received on this performance he decided to record and a release a new, stripped back, acoustic version of ‘The Darker Side’.

While rehearsing and playing the song live, it kept developing. The next version of the song was recorded during a live session for Live uit Lloyd, RTV Rijnmond in Rotterdam.

‘The Darker Side’, a song that can be played in many ways, full band or just stripped back with only a guitar and vocals… a song that has touched and helped people… It was nice to see that ‘The Darker Side’ was added to the ‘Music To Grieve To’ playlist on Spotify. Hopefully the song will reach and help a lot more people in the future.

The Darker Side – lyrics

When the night falls in and the nightmares come
When there’s fading light and the day is done
I will fight you ‘till the morning comes
I will guard my heart and steady my head

‘Cause there is hope for all mankind
If we let go of the darker side
There’s nothing here to hold us back
And everything is open wide
If we let go of the darker side

Down the hill and through the pastures
To the old stone smokey house
I’ve not been here for years
Afraid that I will not confide
Not let go of the darker side

Here I am I come to you
With an open hand but life’s tattoo
I will fight you ‘till the night turns day
Everything is open wide
If we let go of the darker side
If we let go of the darker side
If we let go of the darker side

The Darker Side

Gigs and ducks

I already mentioned it in my previous blog…gigs…
It’s probably one of the most challenging things to get sorted if you’re a musician.
We book all of the gigs ourselves, both in Ireland/Northern Ireland and The Netherlands. There’s a big difference between booking gigs in Ireland/Northern Ireland and The Netherlands though.

Booking gigs in The Netherlands goes pretty well so far. Sure it’s a lot of work and you’ll have to search for venues who do pay artists to play, but so far we’ve been able to get paid gigs sorted. It’s simply necessary. If you’re a touring artist, you’ll have to get expenses covered. It takes a lot of time, effort and phone calls to find the good opportunities though.
Robb always comes over with the band. So when booking gigs we just have to try to get as much of the expenses covered as we can and besides that we have to be creative. Booking hotels is much more expensive than booking an accommodation for a week or 10 days. You can’t cut on flights, but it is helpful to book early, because prices for flights are always going up fast around 8 weeks before the departure date. Renting a car instead of a van is also helpful to keep the costs as low as possible. I live in The Netherlands, so I’m always driving too. But it’s not only that. We’ve been very lucky with the instruments and equipment so far, which we’ve been able to lend from very generous and kind people over here. Besides that, we’re always trying to avoid big expenses when we’re travelling. Taking food and drinks with us, so we don’t have to eat at restaurants etc. and some venues are very welcoming and take care of us all very well by providing us with food and drinks.

The first tour was the hardest one to get sorted. No experience at all and no idea where to look. There wasn’t much to wish for, we were happy to get paid gigs. During that tour there was a variety of venues, from music bars to a chapel. With the 2nd tour things went a lot easier. We found good venues and were able to book better gigs than we had during the first tour. Again a variety of venues and it was fun to do. With the third tour we’ve found a lot of new venues and some venues wanted Robb and the band to perform there again. Good venues for songwriters to perform at, and again every venue is different. We’re already looking forward to that tour!

Booking gigs in Ireland/Northern Ireland is a completely different story though. Sure booking gigs in The Netherlands isn’t an easy thing to do, but with some effort and finding the right venues, we’ve been able to book gigs.
In Ireland/Northern Ireland that seems like an impossible thing to do. You either play for free or pay for a venue yourself to do a gig, hoping that there’ll be enough audience to break even. What’s even worse is that there are more and more festivals making artists pay when they want to apply. That is just really wrong.
One of the reasons why things are so different might be because of the amount of talented bands and singer/songwriters in Northern Ireland. There seems to be much more ‘competition’ than there is in The Netherlands. Music simply is much more part of the culture in Ireland/Northern Ireland than it is over here.
There are many more differences though. In Northern Ireland/Ireland the support for local music seems to be very good. There really are numerous radio stations, including the big stations, who pay attention to new music and besides that there are some really good organisations promoting local music in Northern Ireland.
Sure there are some organisations like that in The Netherlands too, but those organisations seem to be very inaccessible. What does happen is that there is a growing amount of initiatives from people (music lovers)/organisations supporting unknown talent (from The Netherlands and abroad) by hosting gigs. Radio stations are a different story though. There are some good shows that play unknown music, but you won’t hear it on the big radio stations. And besides that…most radio stations (not all of them!! There are some exceptions!!) are always behind over here. When a certain band/artist breaks through in the UK it often takes at least 6 months to a year before radio world in The Netherlands wakes up 😉

These are just some differences between music world in The Netherlands and Ireland/Northern Ireland. And I’m sure things are different in every other country as well.
This blog may seem like a very negative story, but it’s just how the way things are and something every artist has to deal with. There’s nothing negative about it, it’s even quite positive, cause that means that we (and every other artist/band!) will have to be creative and see it as a challenge to make things work and come up with different ideas to spread the word and reach the audience that will like the music. Don’t put energy in the negative things happening, instead of that, find your own way and be you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every single artist/band is unique and what works for others doesn’t mean that it will work for you too. Be creative, push a few boundaries, take a helping hand when offered, be thankful for the people who support you and stick to your goal.

Something totally off topic to end this blog with…
In one of my previous blogs I wrote about the unexpected visitors we had last week. Mr. and Mrs. Duck who came for a swim in our pond. They were back yesterday!!
Seems that they liked it…maybe the food supply wasn’t bad after all 😉
I sat outside for a while, watched them and gave them some bread. They stayed for a couple of hours before leaving. I wouldn’t be surprised if they become regular visitors from now on.
IMG_1064 IMG_1081

I shared this song, To Be A Fool, in a previous blog, but I’m sharing it again, cause it’s about the things I wrote about in this blog. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and stick to your goal.
Have a listen!