Moncrieff Appearing At The Folly Festival

Moncrieff to appear at The Folly Festival 2022

We are thrilled to confirm that Moncrieff will perform at this year’s Folly Festival @ Cullohill Castle.

Listening to his songs, it’s hard to imagine that point in Chris Breheny’s life when he wasn’t fully committed to music. It’s true though: Until he was about 15 years old, the up-and-coming songwriter from Ireland was on a different path. Chris aka Moncrieff was into music, sure, but if you’d told him that a few years down the line even Elton John and Avicii would be into his tunes, he wouldn’t have believed a word of it. After all, music wasn’t a given where he was from, in fact, it was almost sneered at. “I was a bit afraid to pursue it, because in that part of Ireland, in the countryside where I grew up, music was something that was pretty much looked down upon … I guess just hanging out and doing sports was the thing to do if you wanted to fit in,” says the young musician who really took his time to come up with his very own definition of honest, profound singer/songwriter-pop. 

“Music has always been a lens that I use to look at the world … and to process my feelings.”

Moncrieff

Based in Berlin since Spring ’22, Chris’ musical journey really began at the age of sixteen with the tragic loss of his sister. “I would skip school every couple of days, drive my brother’s moped to the most deserted place I could find and listen to music on my own for hours,” he remembers. Although he was yet to write a single song, music was quickly turning into a consistent source of comfort and consolation, an increasingly important outlet. After all, “you don’t really have the tools to express yourself as a young teenage boy – so music became really, really important in my life from then on.” 

Two years later, life dealt him another bad blow, pushing him deeper into a hole – and closer to songwriting: with the sudden passing of his older brother. “At that point I shied away from school even more, joined a little band with my friends in school, and we’d just play cover songs in the local pub.” It was buddies and beers. Cover tunes and compromises. “We were terrible, you know? But yeah, it was great.” 

“… music was becoming something that was essential to my life. I wasn’t even conscious of it.”


In hindsight, the setbacks and the emotional turmoil were important, as they came with a silver lining: they made Chris become a songwriter. Seeing his siblings go so early, seeing his family fall apart, music had become the vessel that Chris used to process emotions that at that point were threatening to overwhelm him – it was the only remedy to fight his demons. The whole idea of a classic 9-to-5 style career and an ordinary, textbook-like life: it all seemed so wrong and pointless all of a sudden, a waste, just as fragile and volatile and meaningless. So he dropped out of school, quit his law studies. “I realized that everything can change in a second, you know? I just needed to continue doing music – and I needed to write as much as I could. I knew I wanted music to be my life. So I moved to London and began writing songs for a really long time. Trying to get better and to find out who I was and what I had to say…”

“… even the terrible songs I was making back then were an avenue for me to express emotions that were threatening to overwhelm me.” 

The new-found focus felt good, he did everything to learn more about the art of songwriting, and yet London wasn’t always welcoming. Things were okay initially, he was busy meeting people, building a network, playing live at open-mic nights. Obviously, his bar job was barely enough to cover expenses, and after the initial excitement had worn off, he realized that people in London weren’t as friendly as they were back home in Ireland … 

However, there was one Londoner who offered encouragement when Chris needed it the most. This guy “who looked like a banker” approached him after yet another open-mic session, bought him a beer (and then another). The stranger had also experienced loss, so he could relate with Chris’s song about losing his siblings. “It was one of those situations that felt like the universe or the world was speaking to me through somebody,” he continues, amused about the fact that the voice of the universe, flanked by a fiancée in a suspiciously flirty mood, was by no means sober that night. “It was exactly what I needed to hear at that point, because I was about to leave and go back to Ireland. Everything he said about pushing forward … that was exactly what I needed to hear.” A crucial moment, so crucial that Chris chose the banker guy’s last name as his moniker: Moncrieff. “That night was the first time I had a smile on my face – in London!”

Although not always welcoming, London was certainly the right choice in terms of inspiration: “I think London really helped me to find my voice because I was exposed to so many different things in so many different genres. You just find new influences all the time,” says Moncrieff who was into Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Etta James at 16 – “because their voices are so incredibly huge and they carry so much emotion.” 

Call it luck or coincidence, fate or providence, call it whatever: someone certainly had greater plans for the budding songwriter and made sure that even some of the greatest got to hear what he was working on: “I got this text. A friend was asking if I was available to do backing vocals for Adele in this BBC show. (…) So yeah, there’s probably still some footage out there with baby-faced me and some friends singing backing vocals for Adele…” Once his first single “Symptoms” was released in early 2018, another pop icon – Elton John – immediately took notice and played the track in his show. And then, not much later, Chris was already making plans for a trip to Los Angeles to work with Avicii (1989-2018) on a song, but sadly, another painful reminder of the fleeting nature of life got in the way… 

“Honesty is honesty in any genre. Vulnerability is vulnerability – in every genre.”

Moncrieff released his debut EP (“The Early Hurts”) in 2019, using the last couple of years to further hone his craft and to come up with a unique sound that he thinks shouldn’t come with a specific genre tag: “I’ve always struggled with the whole concept of ‘a sound’,” he says. “It just never really made sense to me. This whole trying to box yourself into a certain number of characteristic traits …, you know? I’ve always slightly rebelled against that – and just made the music that I wanted to make. After all, honesty is honesty in any genre. Vulnerability is vulnerability – in every genre.”

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