New album, heartfelt passion from Gareth Dunlop

New album, heartfelt passion from Gareth Dunlop

Solo artist Gareth Dunlop is gearing up for the release of his third studio album Welcome To The House Of I Don’t Know, released  via Zenith Cafe this week on June 14. SARA CLARKE chats with the Belfast singer-songwriter

GARETH DUNLOP is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, engineer and record producer.

His distinct songwriting and vocal styles have led to many of his songs being featured in numerous television shows, films and commercials.

Dunlop’s new album, released this week, Welcome To The House Of I Don’t Know follows a narrative that resonates with the songwriter’s time spent touring with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, a songwriting stint in Nashville, Tennessee, and contributing to the soundtrack for the upcoming feature documentary The Past Is Never Dead about American author William Faulkner.

During this busy creative period, Dunlop has said that “he reconnected with his vulnerable side, and began writing the album”.

Having recorded most of the instruments himself for his previous album Animal during lockdown, he brought in longtime friends and collaborators Simon 'Si' Francis (bass), Matty Weir (drums), and Pete Wallace (guitar) to play on a produce the new project.

Speaking of the writing process, Dunlop said: “I try to find songs that resonate with me - my life, and the people around me. The last record was put together during lockdown, which was mainly me working on my own, so I wanted to get in a room, play live music with some friends and go off that gut reaction.

“For me, the new record is quite reflective. It was recorded in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

“I’ve written songs about my family, from my siblings to my mum and dad. It’s about the big themes of life - love, loss, hope, and all that good stuff”.

Gareth Dunlop has explored a mixture of influences in this new album, diverting to some extent from the style of previous work

“On my first album, I was inspired by the acoustic guitar music I grew up with and classic songwriters like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits. Then with the last album, we went for a more modern sound. With this album, we were trying to retrieve this style, and there’s definitely more indie pop influences shown, like Maggie Rogers.”

Amidst frequent tours in the UK and US, Gareth has been a strong advocate for lowering ticket prices and speaking out on the closure of independent venues. From playing live across Northern Ireland since the age of 14 to supporting artists such as Stereophonics, Snow Patrol, Jeff Beck and Van Morrison, he believes it’s vital to fund the grassroots venues and ensure gigs are more accessible.

“Live music is so important. I met some of my best friends at live gigs in Belfast, and formed lifelong connections. It was where I grew up, and I don’t think you can find that anywhere else.

“Not many people my age can say they’re gonna go play with their friends - the fact I still get to say that at 36 blows my mind, and I think everyone should have access to that opportunity, and ticket prices should be lowered”

For Gareth Dunlop, it is evident that artists in the industry require accessibility to develop, in addition to giving gig-goers an affordable experience.

His touring experience over the past few years has underlined for Gareth accustomed a notable demise in venues across UK, Ireland and more, a trend exacerbated by covid and its aftermath. However, it wasn’t the live scene alone that was affected; many parts of the music industry have been affected and changed

Aiming to seek solutions for these issues, Gareth believes it’s important to continually raise awareness and provide “as much support as possible” to smaller venues. This will hopefully prevent further closures, and promote the sense of community he was able to experience.

Marking the anticipated release of Welcome To The House Of I Don’t Know, Gareth is preparing for his performances supporting celebrated Irish artist Damian Dempsey at Iveagh Gardens, Dublin (20th July) and James Blunt at The National Museum Of Ireland (24th August). “They’re great support slots, and I’m grateful for the opportunity”.

Gareth Dunlop has forged an impressive music career, garnering 900,000 monthly listeners worldwide and penning songs for blockbusters such as Safe Haven and hit TV shows including This Is Us. Since winning the Young Songwriter Of The Year Award in Belfast in 2011, he rose to international acclaim and won over fans with his charming brand of synth-pop.

With his third studio album, ‘Welcome To The House Of I Don’t Know, the artist is poised to sweep listeners off their feet with this heartfelt collection of songs.


Welcome To The House Of I Don’t Know is released this week on June 14.


Tour dates:

June 13: The Flapper, Birmingham

June 14: The Crofter’s Rights, Bristol

June 15: The Lower Third, Denmark St, London

June 18: Hallamshire Hotel, Sheffield

June 19: Gullivers, Manchester

June 20: Cluny 2, Newcastle

June 22: Nice n’ Sleazy, Glasgow

June 28: Limelight, Belfast

July 6: Parish, Huddersfield (with Starsailor)

July 20: Iveagh Gardene, Dublin (with Damien Dempsey)

July 26: Secret Garden Party, Huntingdon

July 27: Cambridge Folk Festival

August 24: Collins Barracks, Dublin (with James Blunt)

For full list of dates: