After Success, Romance of ‘Once,’ Irglova Sings a New Beginning
You probably recognize Marketa Irglova from her role as unnamed “Girl” in the 2007 hit film, “Once.” She was just 18 when she starred opposite Irish musician Glen Hansard in the film, a love story about a Dublin busker (Hansard) and a Czech immigrant (Irglova) who meet and make beautiful music together. The duo wrote and performed all of the music for the low-budget film and won an Oscar for their song, “Falling Slowly.”
In the months following their Oscar win, Irglova went from small-time musician to indie sweetheart. Her movie romance with Hansard had morphed into a real-life relationship. The two continued to perform as the folk rock duo, the Swell Season, heading out on a grueling, two-year worldwide tour. A recent documentary, also called “The Swell Season,” follows their intimate and at times rocky journey as they deal with newly discovered fame and romance.
“We were very busy then because we were trying to walk through all those open doors and to make the most of it, and that was absolutely the right thing to do,” says Irglova, adding, “But I was growing confused and a little bit crowded out because I wasn’t giving myself the space and time to digest everything.”
Irglova and Hansard decided last year to go their separate ways, both personally and musically. “Eventually we all took time to just be still and contemplate,” she says. “After going inward for a little while and processing everything, then I was ready to go out into the world again.”
Now focused on doing her own thing, she has toured as a vocalist with the band Iron and Wine and is helping prepare the Broadway version of “Once.” The classically trained Czech singer and pianist also released her first solo record in October, called “Anar,” which means pomegranate in Farsi.
“It turns out the pomegranate is perceived as a symbol of fertility in a lot of religions,” Irglova says. “It was a very creative and fertile time in my life, writing all those songs, so it seemed like it summed everything up really nicely.”
The fruit of Irglova’s labor is an album of intimate and contemplative songwriting. She also has a new collaborator in Iranian singer-percussionist Aida Shahghasemi, who is currently on tour with her, adding the daf (a frame drum) to Irglova’s thoughtful, piano melodies.
For Irglova, her solo record is just the beginning. She envisions “Anar” as part of a trilogy, with work already started on the second album, which she hopes to release in 2012.