- 17 Sep 21
Richie Martin of Cry Monster Cry fame talks to Hot Press about the release of his first solo single, ‘Learn To Live.’
Richie Din Martin was on Cry Monster Cry’s first sold out Irish tour — along with his brother Jamie — when the pandemic upended the world. 18 months later and the folk star is back with uplifting debut solo single, ‘Learn to Live.’
The empowering single is an inspiring ode to dusting yourself off after a dark time to look ahead to a brighter future. It’s an energetic rush of upbeat guitar combined with an eclectic mix of instruments including a djembe and a saxophone.
'Learn to Live' was conceived back in March, and the subsequent lockdowns and restrictions luckily benefited the formation of the song.
“It’s been interesting because of lockdown. I was able to experiment with a lot of different sounds that I wouldn’t have really thought about,” says Richie. That was how the djembe came to be on the record, he tells Hot Press.
“It gave me the freedom to experiment with different instruments that I wouldn’t have used before, and try new sounds. Even something like the djembe, I had all the time in the world to look at it and try different things with it.”
Richie plays the djembe himself on the record along with bass, guitar and laying down the vocals. The rest of the ensemble was made up of Dec Quinn from Republic of Loose and The Love Tailors and Ben Castle — known for his work with Villagers and Duke Special.
British jazz musician Ben Castle came to be on the track by way of a friendly neighbour.
“I was just really lucky. One day I was outside the front of the house and a next-door neighbour said to me ‘I want to introduce you to a guy at the top of the road here, he’s a musician as well’ — it turned out to be Ben Castle,” says the multi-instrumentalist, smiling.
The two struck up a friendship and began meeting up for coffee and chats at the end of their road. Eventually, Richie pitched the song to Castle. “Through the conversations I’d had with him he sparked an idea — he told me he played sax — I was trying to find lines for him then to play,” says the songwriter.
Castle’s inclusion was fortuitous and inspired. His solo at the back end of the track is exquisite and offers another dimension to the song.
‘Learn to Live’ came together in exceptional circumstances which. were unfamiliar to the Cry Monster Cry singer as he worked around restrictions to craft his first solo effort. Used to sculpting songs alongside other artists in big sessions, the Dublin-based singer had to adapt to having collaborators come in by themselves to lay down their parts.
Richie was also separated from his collaborator, brother and the other half of Cry Monster Cry, Jamie. The mandolin player was on the north side of the capital while Richie stayed in the south. “It forced me into a place I hadn’t been before,” says the musician.
“When you work as a songwriting duo you don’t get that luxury. You just fall into this bracket where you’re used to working with someone. You always have someone to throw an idea off. When I was forced to stay in a room by myself, it was a very different thing, y’know? I got there in the end and that’s where the song came about,” he adds.
The song isn’t without a touch of family, however, as Martin’s wife provides backing vocals on the track.
“We had to work with what we had. By hook or by crook we just got people,” says Richie.
‘Learn to Live’ was born out of a pressure cooker of Covid-19 complications but Richie Din Martin found a way to make it a natural process.
“It happened very organically,” he says. “It’s very interesting because I’ve never worked like this before and I really enjoyed doing it. I think it brought a lot more to the track than if I had just gone the previous route. The fact that my friends and family feature on the track is a very special thing.”
The Irish folk star also has further plans down the line with his solo career — including new material and hopes for live shows. “I have the songs but I’m taking my time to kind of figure out the way to put them together,” sys Richie.
“I’m working on some new material at the moment. I’ve got a couple of new tracks to come out in a similar vein [to ‘Learn to Live’]. More upbeat stuff than I’d be known for previously with Cry Monster Cry. At the same time I’m trying to experiment as much as possible and it’s a brand new road for me.”
The guitarist is also hopeful to be playing these new tracks to a live audience as soon. “When I write songs I always visualise playing them in front of people. I’d love to be able to share that moment with an audience; being able to sing together. Hopefully that will happen soon enough.”
‘Learn to Live’ is Martin’s first step as a solo artist and is an answer to many of the questions Richie himself and his listeners may have been asking themselves since Leo Varadkar made that vital announcement.
“I think it’s important to remember the message from this song after the past 18 months we’ve had,” he says.
Listen to ‘Learn to Live’ below.