Fears: “My openness might catch people off guard”

In a refreshingly frank interview, electronic/acoustic artist Fears talks to Ellie Hanagan about overcoming stage-fright, being admitted to a psychiatric hospital and the death of her grandmother.


Fears wears her heart on her sleeve. You can tell that just by listening to her emotive, ethereal music, which combines haunting vocals and acoustic samples with reflective electronics. Every single track on her debut artist album ‘Oíche’ is based on her own experiences, taking the listener on a journey that’s so emotional you feel like you’re going through the ups and downs of her life with her. 

The Irish artist, musician and producer seems totally unafraid to show her vulnerability and is refreshingly unaware of how brave that is. “There are times when I get nervous at being so vulnerable and putting myself out there,” she admits. “But I get so much out of creating music, and to me that’s the main goal. It’s nice that other people listen to it and enjoy it – or don’t enjoy it – or have something to say about it, but that’s not really what it’s about for me.”

Everything about Fears is open and honest. Even her stage-name is a heartfelt admission of self-doubt. “When I started the project, standing on a stage in front of people was something that absolutely terrified me, so I wanted to choose a name that would be something I could have an emotional relationship with and hopefully overcome.” She doesn’t hide behind anything – and that rawness is reflected in the music she makes. It’s almost like she’s letting you read her diary. “I don’t know how to write about things I don’t care about,” she says. “I don’t understand how someone’s brain can work like that. I mean, fair play if that’s something you’re capable of doing, but my creative process is so linked to my feelings, emotions, experiences and values, that I’m not able to separate that out.” This is demonstrated throughout the album, which features a recording of a conversation she had with her grandmother, who suffered from dementia. “Brighid is a recording I made of my late Nana, Brighid, taken in her back garden after my Granda had passed away,” she explains. “We were very close up until her death in 2018. She had dementia which impacted her short term memory, so talking about her early life became incredibly important for her sense of identity. I love this recording because you can hear her sense of humour and personality, as well as details about her family history.” 

A few years ago Fears experienced a trauma so great that she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. During that time, she wrote the album’s intro track ‘h_always’. “I wrote it at a time when my feelings about a traumatic situation were quite confused, and it’s interesting for me to look back on it now and see how much has changed; both literally and emotionally,” she reflects. “I [also] remember that when I came out, I told people where I’d been and they were like ‘Wow that’s so brave’ and I was like ‘That’s not brave to me, that’s just not having to live some fake story about me being on a cruise for the past six weeks! It’s so much easier for me to just say ‘I was in hospital, that’s what happened, and thankfully I’m doing so much better now’.

“I do have an understanding that [my openness] might catch people off-guard but that’s more to do with them than it is to do with me,” she continues. “I mean, everybody has their own personal relationship with mental health, and how they’re going to respond to it is their prerogative. But I think it’s really important when you’re sharing these things to be sharing them from a space of comfort within yourself so that you’re not relying on approval coming back.”

Fears’ first two singles ‘Tonnta’ and ‘Vines’ are out now, with her ‘Oíche’ album scheduled for release on May 7 2021.


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