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TikTok boom Singer Odhran Murphy reveals how TikTok got him signed to Hozier's label

The Crossmaglen man started playing guitar at 14 - and had his first gig two years later

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Odhran Murphy

Odhran Murphy

Odhran Murphy

Singer Odhran Murphy was snapped up by the brand behind Hozier before he’d even played his first headline gig.

The 22-year-old classroom assistant has landed a publishing deal with Evolving Music in Dublin, which works with the global Take Me To Church star.

Odhran, who was spotted at the Kaleidoscope Festival, has been signed up to write music for himself and other artists, and he admits it’s the biggest thing that’s ever happened to him.

The Crossmaglen man, who started with three chords on the guitar at 14 and played his first pub gig at 16, made his Dublin debut this week after selling out Belfast’s Crumlin Road jail in the summer.

In a whirlwind start to his professional career, he’s also gained a following of over 350,000 on TikTok.

“To be honest Covid helped me a lot because I built my fanbase on social media,” he says.

“I started on TikTok and I hadn’t a clue what I was doing or how it worked.

“Then it went crazy and during lockdown it blew up.”

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Odhran Murphy

Odhran Murphy

Odhran Murphy

He also got into a bit of TikTok trouble when he uploaded a cover of Hurt by Johnny Cash and earned himself a temporary ban.

“It was only for a few days, and I’m sure Johnny Cash wouldn’t have minded,” says the singer.

When the approach came from Evolving Music, owned by MCD, Odhran grabbed the opportunity.

He’s taken inspiration from Portaferry singer Ryan McMullan who has spoken about how his career took off after he found his voice and started writing original songs.

“The publishing deal was a huge shock to me. I was doing the Kaleidoscope Festival in Wicklow, which was the biggest stage I’ve ever done, and I was taking every moment in.

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“The deal was before I had ever done my first headline show and it was the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me.

“When I watched the film about Ryan McMullan last week, I thought I need to get a move on here writing original songs and take this to the next level.

“Writing music is what I love to do, and I love singing and performing, and to be asked to write for other people is incredible, but it’s early days yet.”

Ryan grew up steeped in music, with a grandfather who played in showbands, mum Elaine who sings and plays accordion, and singer sister RUE. At his first pub gig his mum set up the sound system and the buzz of a live gig kickstarted his musical career.

He’s also been backed by Dermot Kennedy after winning a competition to create the best cover of his song Paradise, when the Better Days singer sent Odhran a signed guitar.

He’s gigged around pubs in Belfast including the Harp Bar and the Thirsty Goat and says there’s an explosion of new talent about to happen.

“You’re working with other artists the whole time and seeing them taking the next step, and there’s a big boom coming. I’m so happy to see other artists doing well.”

Odhran studied audio production and just needs a laptop and some inspiration to create music. His first song on Spotify was By My Side and he’s just released Alone, with plans for an EP.

“Music has always been my life,” says the artist.

“I think of a chorus first, and then add the instruments to it and put it on my laptop and take it from there.

“I love going up Slieve Gullion where I can look for inspiration and try and build a song around it.

“I take inspiration from everywhere, from watching Netflix or a film. My song Alone came out of not being able to see people during lockdown.”

He was bowled over when his first solo gig at Crumlin Road Jail sold out in 24 hours and says he can’t wait to get stuck into the next phase of his career now that live music restrictions have been lifted. He’ll also be supporting Limerick band Hermitage Green on tour later this year.

“The atmosphere at Crumlin Road was amazing, and I’m excited for the Dublin gig with a full band.

“Getting a lucky shot can make all the difference,” says the singer.

Odhran is playing the Limelight in Belfast on November 12.

roisin.gorman@sundayworld.com

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