Ailish Breen – Two’s Company

Ailish writes this month’s guest blog on the theme of our next event, Two’s Company

If you’re an only child like me, you know that the world believes us all to be lonely, spoiled, and socially inept. You will be used to the knowing wince that crosses people’s faces when you tell them of your plight, and you will be used to never revealing your solitary state until pressed.

You may or may not be used to the prevailing feeling of being a bit of an outsider. Only children tend to mature a bit quicker than their peers and this can be isolating. Plus, other families always just seem to be so busy; full to the point of overflowing with love and people. In my case it left me with a lifelong desire to be part of something; to be in teams and gangs because I didn’t have the ready-made one that most kids did. I became good at making myself sociable and amenable so that I would hopefully always be welcomed in. Now, I long to always be included and put enormous value on my friendships because they are the closest relationships I have to brothers and sisters. (Although I’ve never in my life pulled anyone’s hair, am I missing out?)

Ailish performing at First Draft

Ailish performing at First Draft

Anyway I never had to share a room or vie for my parents’ attention. I was used to spending large amounts of time in my own company, and still crave that space now. Though I like being part of a big team, I do less well in smaller groups. When it comes to working closely with one or a handful of people I get stressed out. I’m too focused on myself, assuming most of the time that I am right or I know best. Performing as a singer-songwriter felt like a pretty natural route, therefore, when I decided I might like to play music. You are the songwriter, the lyricist, the creative director and sole performer. You don’t have to share any of the duties or any of the reward. You don’t have to impress anyone. You can practice on your own. It works. It’s bliss.

Until the first time you’re part of something.

You might have said ‘hey let’s give this a go’ or you might have played a few bars and someone joined in spontaneously. For us it occurred when Jenny was reading me some early lines of Written on a Theme and I wouldn’t stop playing guitar long enough to listen. However it happens, suddenly someone else is involved and it just sounds a hell of a lot better. It’s bigger, it’s richer and it’s got layers and textures that you just couldn’t produce on your own. You grin at the other person and you realise that you’re having more fun than you’ve ever had playing music and you never want it to end. You’re so proud of the noise that is coming out of the two of you; it sounds strong and meaningful. You stop playing, or you step off the stage and you grin at each other some more. The reward, in that moment, is joy. You have to share the reward now, but there’s so much more of it anyway that you don’t feel like pulling each other’s hair over it.

Two's Company - poster by Jordan Bolton

Two’s Company – poster by Jordan Bolton

Ailish is a writer and musician. You can catch her performing at Two’s Company with writer Jenny Browne on Monday 21 April at The Castle Hotel

Watch Ailish and Jenny’s last performance together at First Draft

Watch Ailish’s music videos, This Could Happen and Skyscrapers

You can also follow Ailish on Twitter


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