Two years after making his musical comeback, Robert O’Connor is ready to go up a gear with the release of his new EP, ‘Transcendence’, released on November 20.
The Dublin-born artist went on hiatus in 2013 following the release of his well-received EP ‘Resistance’, and it’s fair to say he'd built up some life experience by the time he returned – working as a journalist, social media manager, security guard, and estate agent. "I considered calling my comeback record Identity Crisis", he jokes, "but everything I did during those five years made me who I am today. I see everything I do as a performance, for those five years I felt like an actor being booked for different roles".
Originally emerging in 2006, Robert knew he wanted to sing, but he didn’t know what he wanted to sing. It was a recording session during which producer Billy Farrell advised him to try song-writing that changed the game for him: "I was a teenager, and I had no hesitation, I just went home that day and started song-writing – the lyrics and melodies flowed as if they were in my brain already and had been merely waiting to be called upon".
In 2008, his self-written debut album ‘Distance’, distributed by Universal, was hailed "Top honours song-writing" by Hotpress magazine, but Robert wasn’t in a rush to follow-up the release, returning to college for three years to study journalism. He eventually released ‘Resistance’ in 2012, which became another critical success. One review, by music blog Indie Music Digest, said: “Robert possesses enough musical talent and song-writing prowess to be extremely dangerous”.
Fast-forward to 2018, Robert returned once more, claiming "I only write singles", whenever asked about a new record. He emerged confident with world-class country tracks "You Found Me", "No Second Chances" and his arresting cover of Joni Mitchell’s "River", each produced by Stuart Gray, and each receiving rave reviews and their fair share of airtime, especially considering Robert remains a one-man-operation: "I’m the songwriter, the singer, the manager, the radio plugger, the publicist, the booker...but that’s how it is these days, it’s the norm for an independent artist!"
‘Transcendence’ gathers together his four collaborative singles with Peruvian EDM producer Skynem GT, presenting them as a "listening experience". Robert explains: "I didn’t want to leave these songs floating around the streaming stratosphere as singles – it felt right to bring them together, re-polish them, and add some context in the form of an intro, interlude and outro". The 20-minute record is succinct, but hits hard – from the cinematic intro into lead single "Destination Anywhere", a glistening late-night electro track with ‘70s-style percussion that Robert says is inspired by the "dark, sexy afterhours disco by Jessie Ware and The Weeknd".
Elsewhere, singles "Older ‘20" and "Over (Before It’s Begun)" feel ready-made for Ibiza sunsets at Café Del Mar, while the pair’s first collaboration on "Real Good Fight" is a motivational anthem up there with the best of them. "But I know for better or for worse, God’s got a bigger plan for me/I gotta have faith, I’ve got to believe", Robert sings, and as the track segues into a tropical-infused outro complete with a bass-line that would sound at home on any ‘80s PWL album, there’s a sense of optimism and hope – and you realise that Robert’s faith, and his self-belief, are the traits that have carried him from strength-to-strength to this day.
“Destination Anywhere” is released November 13, with ‘Transcendence’ following on November 20.