- 13 Aug 19
With a string of acclaimed, genre-defying singles under his belt, Somebody’s Child has been tipped as one of the country’s most exciting new acts. Now, he’s been taken on by industry heavyweights Steve Strange of X-ray Touring and James Whitting of Paradigm Talent Agency.
Twenty-three year-old indie-pop artist Somebody’s Child, aka Cian Godfrey, is a star on the rise. We’ve known that for some time here in Hot Press. Now the industry has cottoned on.
The former BIMM Dublin student struck gold recently, when he was signed up by two top agents in the business: Steve Strange of X-ray Touring, whose clients have included the likes of Eminem, Coldplay, Kodaline and Snow Patrol; and James Whitting of Paradigm Talent Agency (formerly CODA), who has represented Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding, Robyn and Maggie Rogers.
That’s some clout to have behind you! Add it to a strong and already highly effective management representation – and it could be the making of the young Dubliner.
“I was sent Cian’s music by his manager Aidan Cosgrave,” Steve Strange who started out as the drummer with the Belfast band No Hot Ashes – tells Hot Press. “I had met Aidan at various times over the years, including back when he used to manage An Emotional Fish, so as soon as he sent the Somebody’s Child material, I was intrigued. I said I’ll have to have a listen. And I really liked what I heard. I could tell straight away that the guy was pretty special.
“Aidan put on a show in Dublin, and I flew over for that. It was everything I had hoped it was going to be. I was very sure in my own head, in advance, that it was going to be great – and it was.”
Hot Press editor Niall Stokes has made the point that you can imagine 80,000 fans singing along to a Somebody’s Child song like ‘Make You Alright’ or ‘Distance’.
“Me too,” Steve Strange says. “That’s the way I see it going. I think it’ll be a bit like the way Kodaline have done it – I know it happened a few years ago but at that point in time the industry was already starting to change. You have to have a sort of live basis now, and that can only be built up by getting the right tours, playing the right festivals and getting in front of the right audience!”
DOUBLE THE ACCESS
Which is where a good agent comes in. But the next step wasn’t entirely straight-forward. As with any smart management play, there was already another agent hot on the heels of Somebody’s Child, and Steve Strange soon found himself battling it out with a fellow heavy-hitter, by the name of James Whitting.
As it happened, while they operate under different roofs, both Steve and James are ultimately affiliated with the same US-based Paradigm Talent Agency. Steve’s X-ray Touring partnered with Paradigm in 2017, and the American company absorbed James’ UK-based CODA Agency recently. It was time for a friendly phone call.
“It seemed a bit odd for us to be fighting for the artist, within the same company structure,” Steve says. “I get on very well with James, and I knew he was a great agent. So we decided doing it together was actually the best option. You get the best of two very good people, you know (laughs)? And it’s working well, our communication is very good with each other, and we get shit done!”
Aside from knowing and respecting the manager, what was it that Steve saw in Somebody’s Child?
“I think you look for star potential don’t you? And I saw that immediately. Otherwise, it’s down to the songwriting, really. You know, it’s the first thing that gives me that drive, when I listen to something. A good song stands out.”
No one was more delighted with the new arrangements than Cian Godfrey.
“It’s worked out great for us,” he tells Hot Press. “We’ve two amazing agents working with us, which means double the access that most other bands get. I can’t wait to see what happens with it going forward.”
Despite being taken on by major industry heavyweights, however, there is an element of a reclusive star-in-the-making about Cian.
“I take it step by step,” he says. “The funny thing is that Somebody’s Child was originally meant to be a songwriting project for other people. It soon became apparent that you need some sort of a profile to make any kind of progress in the music industry. So I thought, ‘Okay, I’m going to have to play these songs live’. But I never wanted to go too far away from the original vision.”
In a world where pop stars are plastered across billboards and social media, Somebody’s Child has taken an unusual approach, by opting for a kind of anonymity, obscuring his face in promo shots.
“There’s a vanity associated with pop music nowadays,” he explains. “Being good-looking is part of the brand, and I’m trying to get away from that. Society shouldn’t be living up to expectations that don’t really exist.”
Similarly, Cian won’t be conforming his sound to fit industry standards any time soon.
“I’m trying to avoid my music being boxed in,” he says. “All my releases have been quite different – and my next one is even more so. One thing I hated in the past was trying to come up with a sound that was consistent throughout. Once I rid myself of that, I felt so much freer to write in any way that I wanted. I wasn’t confined to the constrictions of what people associate with typical indie-rock or alternative pop music.”
A RISING STAR
With the guidance of Aidan Cosgrave, who has been navigating the choppy waters of rock ‘n’ roll with considerable prowess, alongside Steve Strange and James Whitting, Somebody’s Child is set to score serious attention on both sides of the Irish Sea in the coming months. He has been lined up for a coveted spot on the BBC Introducing Stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals. It is exactly what a burgeoning star needs at a juncture like this.
“We’ve got them coming over to England to do a few things over the next few months,” Steve Strange confirms. “Reading and Leeds is going to be a great opportunity for them to spread their wings a little more. He really has the knack for getting the audience singing along.”
The release of the third Somebody’s Child single, ‘Distance’, served as further proof of the young Dubliner’s potential. Can we expect more before the year is out?
“The focus nowadays is on singles, because people’s attention-spans are pretty short,” Cian laughs. “I’m hoping to release at least one more this year. But then again, who knows what’s going to happen in six months time?”
Whatever the case, Steve Strange reckons the future looks extremely bright for Somebody’s Child - and he says so on good authority.
“I’ve represented a lot of sizeable Irish acts over the years, including Kodaline and Snow Patrol,” Steve says. “Somebody’s Child could definitely be the next big one out the trap. I feel that very strongly.”
Of all the successes he’s had, is there one of which Steve is especially proud?
“Coldplay has been a tremendous journey,” he says, “as has Eminem. But I think the one that stands out in my mind that I’m really proud of, was building Queens of the Stone Age. To take them from 300 people, which they played to in London the first time they toured, to 45,000 sold out at Finsbury Park in advance last year – and the same sort of thing around Europe and beyond – it’s been a really great journey. When you actually represent a band that’s nearly 20 years old, and they are still getting bigger, that’s a rarity. When the act is still getting bigger 20 years after their birth, that’s amazing.”
A lot of that comes down to the willingness on everyone’s part to put the graft in – and he has been impressed with the work ethic in the Somebody’s Child camp.
“You know, as agents, if we’re going to be going through blood, sweat and tears to get an artist away, they have to love it as much, if not more than you do,” Steve says. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch is there? You have to go out and work. Having a good work ethic is incredibly important.”
Over to the man himself...
“I like to think that I have a certain level of ambition,” Cian adds. “Having some success behind me alleviates at least some of the pressure that I had felt, in terms of putting myself out there. With things moving in the way they are right now, I’ve realised that this really is where I want to be. This is where I’m supposed to be.”
Somebody’s Child plays Electric Picnic, August 30-September 1. The single ‘Distance’ is out now.