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03rd May 2020

Musician Robert John Ardiff on creating new music from his home during lockdown

James Fenton

Robert John Ardiff is a name I’ve become familiar with in recent times, largely due to the Facebook activity of my old college pal Neil Murray.

Neil just happens to be a member of Robert’s touring band, so whenever the guys have some new material, it’s not long before I see it pop up on the Facebook feed. I always like what I hear and while some might accuse me of bias towards my old friend Neil, I’d never actually spoken to Robert John Ardiff until I rang him the other day to chat about the new music he’s been creating during isolation.

You might have already heard Robert yourself at one of his regular appearances in venues across Dublin and beyond. Back in February, he played at Lost Lane but like every other performing musician at the moment, Robert’s work has dried up since the lockdown began. It came at quite a busy time too as Robert, originally from Co. Meath, explained: “We’d been touring in Dublin and places like London and New York over the past few months so it was going really well. Then the lockdown happened and we had gigs cancelled in Limerick, Galway and at the Borris Writing Festival which was due to take place in June.”

Confined to his home wondering what could have been, Robert decided to make use of his time by creating new material and so his aptly-named new single Quarantine was born. “I had been booked into a studio in April to finish the recording of my second album which was set for release in September.” he says. “However when this lockdown kicked in, that was put paid to and instead, I ended up writing loads of new stuff – not all of which was related to being stuck at home mind you. I then thought ‘f*ck it, I might as well do a ‘lockdown’ EP’.”

“My full band was due in the studio with me in April so we just decided to throw some bits together at home. The songs have been bouncing around, with people adding little bits and sending them back to each other. For example, I recorded the guitar, piano, drum, and vocals for Quarantine. Then I sent the initial demo to Neil and my other friend Gareth Quinn Redmond, who added bass and harmonica, and violin respectively.”

“It’s been really good for the mental health. Having Neil send over his bits gave me something to look forward every day. I’m busy doing online lectures and my partner and I have a little girl but when you can’t really leave the house it’s good to keep the creativity going.”

A musician creating new music during a lockdown probably won’t come as a surprise to most but producing a music video to go with it is pretty impressive. That’s what Robert has done with the help of another friend,  Steve Battle, who managed to put together a video of the village of Enniscrone in County Sligo where he is currently isolating himself. “He’s just taking some shots up there whenever he manages to get out and some of them are pretty stunning. I think the video acts as a nice compliment to the song itself,” Robert explains.

He’s not wrong about the stunning shots and the video for Quarantine can be seen below…

Robert’s not the only one living off fish fingers and beans, that’s for sure. Quarantine is out now and EP Whistle In The Dark, is due to be released on Friday, May 15. Before the lockdown, Robert, Neil et al had been playing some pretty high-profile gigs around Dublin and Ireland, including one the aforementioned Lost Lane show as recently as February.

If their work ethic continues at this pace, they’ll surely be performing to some pretty big crowds again once this is all over. In the meantime, you can listen to Quarantine here and keep up to date with Robert’s work here. He can also be followed on Instagram via this link.

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