Spend the Night
Robert O'Connor is on a mission to make his mark in the music world, and there is very little that can stop him - he has after all, endured a struggle during the past year, which saw him exit his first record contract with a label that was as Robert says "all talk and no action". While trying to figure what he would do next, Robert wrote, "a whole bunch of songs", which would become the bricks and mortar of his debut album. One of those songs, "SPEND THE NIGHT", is Robert's debut single. Coupled together with "TEN YEARS TIME", O'Connor's take on a little-known Gabrielle track - a jem he's been sitting on for over a year - it seems that Robert's debut single will be well and truly worth the wait. So where did it all begin, you might ask? Truth be told, O'Connor was never going to be anything other than a recording artist. At the age of two, Robert was playing his parents' 12" records - Bon Jovi, Blondie, The Bangles. Not only would he listen, but also he would rehearse, and go on to perform numbers by all of these bands in the living room of the family's Dublin home. This always took family friends aback, as Robert was a shy child in general, but like so many greats before him, his shyness seemed to be forgotten when performance time came around. Noticing his appetite for singing and dancing, Robert's mum decided to take him to the Billie Barry Stage School, Ireland's premiere school for dance and drama. But his parents were not stage parents, not pushy like you might imagine - they didn't need to be. Soon, Robert was performing in The Gaiety Theatre, singing and tap dancing his way through songs that had become classics before he'd been born. Modelling opportunities arose at this point, but Robert shunned most of them, preferring performance to posing. A role in the theatrical production of THE KING & I, directed by Brian Merriman, came next. Following his audition for the show, an aged 9 Robert told his mum, "I have this one", with a tone of certainty. He would be correct on this occasion, and Robert starred alongside Gemma Cravern and Susan McFadden as a young prince in The Olympia Theatre for two months during 1995/1996. Aged 8, Robert had started to take lessons in playing keyboard, which he would continue for over ten years and at age 19, allow him to teach students in the school he had been a student himself. Although he attended a convention five-day-a-week school, academic studies played a smaller part in Robert's life. Music proved to be a distraction and by the time Robert's first major exams came around, he had left the Billie Barry Stage School, unable to deal with the combined pressure of getting auditions as well as good exam results. Feeling depressed having left what he considered to be his real life behind; Robert decided to leave school before the next set of exams presented themselves. "I was extremely lucky in that my parents supported my decision", Robert says today. "I knew that I simply wasn't going to do what had to be done in order to get into a good college, so I figured I should apply myself to music - to performance - where I felt my talents lay". During the following two years, Robert trained vocally, as well as attending a course at the critically acclaimed Gaiety School of Acting, previously attended by now famed Irish actors Colin Farrell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Also at this time, Robert signed a modelling contract with Celtic Talent and started to shoot his portfolio with photographer Andrea Benedetti, known for his work on Vogue Italy. Within months Robert was given the opportunity to attend IMTA 'Hooray For Hollywood', a convention that would take place in Los Angeles during January 2006, bringing agents and managers from the US and Europe to watch a select amount of models and actors showcase their talents. The convention has acted as a springboard for household names Katie Holmes, Ashton Kutcher and Brandon Routh, amongst many others. Robert accepted the offer, seeing it as his natural next move, and trained with acting and modelling coaches during the closing months of 2005. With his portfolio in one hand and his Louis Vuitton travel bag in the other (Robert has a weakness for designer items), Robert flew to Los Angeles and walked the runway, shot test commercials and sang on front of the panel of judges. He left Los Angeles weeks later with not just his portfolio and luggage, but also an award for "FASHION PRINT/RUNWAY MALE 2005", which acknowledged both Robert's photogenic look and his presence on the runway. Together with this he had offers of contracts in Japan and Los Angeles. O'Connor turned down the contract offers, deciding, almost bizzarely, to instead start building a foundation for the music career he now held hopes of. Fast-forward two years and Robert is still building, and believes he has found 'his sound' after much experimentation with different producers. When recording "TEN YEARS TIME", the first track to be recorded for his debut album, Robert chose to work with Billy Farrell, an Irish producer who produced three tracks on The Corrs' 'In Blue' album. Keeping things Irish, Anthony Drennan played guitars on the track. "Anthony played on Gabrielle's version of 'Ten Years Time', and neither of us knew this until we met at the studio. I didn't need to tell him I wanted him to change the arrangements - I think he knew I didn't want the copycat sound", Robert comments, with a grin. "SPEND THE NIGHT", recorded several months later, was co-produced by Robert together with Steve Hogan, a talented drummer-turned-producer, and Fionann DeBarra, the man responsible for producing much of Moya Brennan's (formerly of Irish band Clannad) solo work. "I have a clear vision of the album I want to create", Robert says, with an air of confidence. "And when it's ready, you'll know about it".