Dubliner Conor O’Brien, who heads up award-winning folk troupe Villagers, wrote his first song aged 12.
His brother had just lent him an acoustic guitar and while he was picking his way round the instrument, Conor penned his first lyric: ‘When I’m walking down these streets, I feel like a monkey in the Arctic.’ The song, called Psychic, was about being afraid of a friend who could read people’s thoughts.
Fast forward 15 years and Conor now shares a record label with Arctic Monkeys, having signed to Domino Records last year – and his songwriting remains just as bizarre and otherworldly.
Villagers’ debut album Becoming a Jackal was released to critical acclaim in 2010, and the title track earned Conor the coveted Best Song Musically and Lyrically gong at last month’s Ivor Novello Awards.
We catch up with him to find out more about what inspires his beguiling lyrics and intricate arrangements…