AN air of nonchalance surrounds Ryan Sheridan. However, beneath the relaxed exterior of the cap wearing, happy-go-lucky musician lies a steeliness, a determination to bring his music to the masses, to succeed where others have failed.
Sheridan, the Monaghan musician whose debut single ‘Jigsaw’ has become a monster radio hit - one of the biggest of the past 12 months - has had an interesting background.
Taking himself across the Atlantic as a veritable teenager to Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Sheridan grafted and learned his trade as performer and singer while still unable to legally buy a drink in the bars he was performing in.
After that stint he formed a three piece rock band called ‘Shiversaint’ in Glasgow and later Dublin, before he decided his heart just wasn’t in it and he returned to his hometown to open a bar. However, the lure of the music scene refused to relinquish its grasp, and he returned to the capital in 2009, teaming up with Polish percussionist Artur Graczyk and hitting the streets of Temple Bar to showcase their craft.
“Busking on the street was actually the best move I have ever made in my life I think,” Sheridan tells City Life.
The duo were noticed by a management company busking in Temple Bar, were immediately picked up, signed to Irish independent label Rubyworks and were playing at major festivals before their feet could hit the ground.
It was with the release of ‘Jigsaw’ in September of last year however, that sent Sheridan into the stratosphere, major radio latching onto the catchy acoustic number, a cross between the dynamism of KT Tunstall’s ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’, the rhythm of Rodrigo y Gabriela and the intensity of Damien Dempsey - with whom Sheridan shares a similar stage presence.
He laughs and says it has been an “interesting” six months.
“The single set it off altogether and we didn’t really expect it to take off that well - we had really just decided to put it out there and people seem to have latched onto it and it is getting my name out there. People seem to be loving it,” he says.
“The past few months have been just crazy, absolutely crazy. I’ve got a record deal, publishing deal, played a lot of festivals, supported some amazing acts and it just couldn’t have been any better. It is only eight months, when you say it, it seems kind of crazy.”
His musical career has followed an interesting path, from solo artist, to band member, back to solo artist - albeit with the crucial addition of Graczyk’s percussion this time around.
“I was a solo artist for years and I decided I wanted to get more out of what I was doing, I wanted more members and I wanted bigger riffs,” says Sheridan, “and then after a while, I realised I was fed up, I’m not supposed to be in a band.” He adds: “I’m too selfish to be in a band, I think”.
Certainly his distinctive playing style, utilising a Spanish cajon guitar and integrating it with Graczyk’s slap-box and high-hat dynamic beats, has been central to his success, the duo’s unblinking rhythm an impressive feat in itself.
“I met Artur when he was busking on the street with another band, and I was busking and it was just by fate that we decided to play and we came together perfectly. He could provide rhythm to anyone on the planet, so I’m lucky its me and that we gelled together.”
“There are not that many people out there who you could be playing and jamming with and all of a sudden you could stop, and he would stop with me without me having to tell him, so we are very in tune that way together.”
The fact that the breakthrough happened organically was made more remarkable given Sheridan’s previous exertions at getting signed, and he is aware of it.
His album is released this coming Friday, and he is itching to get it out there, to see the reaction it receives. Recorded in Dublin with Joe Chester, the album adds more weight to the bones of his partnership with Graczyk, with the addition of strings, keyboards and expressive backing vocal arrangements.
“I am extremely happy with it, it exceeded my expectations,” says Ryan.
“They are songs I wrote over the last six to eight months. I was going to use older songs on the album, but the energy wasn’t there because they were on a different timeline to the new songs - the newer ones relate more to what is going on at the moment and what I am doing, so I wanted to use only new stuff, so that is what is on it.”
Ryan Sheridan plays in Dolan’s Warehouse this Sunday and will play live and sign copies of his new album in HMV Cruises Street on Saturday at 1pm.