His direct, political, but heartfelt songs have won him audiences worldwide. “That’s what people like — they know it’s honest. I’m not doing music for financial gain or to be famous. I’m doing it as a form of expression to help me. It has really helped me through life. Writing and singing songs is like oxygen for me,” he says.
From Donaghmede and the youngest of three boys, Dempsey’s comes from a political family. “We would have always been opinionated about politics — more than other families. If we were going for a pint, we’d talk about what’s going on in the country they’d be fairly heated discussions,” he says.
Dempsey turns 40 next year and has yet to settle down. “I’m in an on-off relationship. I’m going away for three months to Australia and England — it’s tough. Maybe when I get a bit older, and do less travel, I’ll be able to have a proper relationship,” he says.
In good shape. I’m doing a bit of boxing in my local club, in Ballymede, sparring with my two giant brothers — one is 6’ 4”, the other is 6’ 7”. I’m the runt of the litter, at 6’ 2”. I like sparring, because nobody gets hurt. It’s a great way to keep fit and get a bit of anger out of you. Also, I do a bit of swimming off the cliffs in Howth. I go all year round.
I’ve allergies — pollen, dust mites and cat hair, grass, hay, and stuff like that. It’s not easy to sing when you’ve allergies.
I always have fruit in the morning. I also eat tuna and drink lots of water — I’m drinking wheat grass now. When I’m not on the road, I try to eat healthily. I get free-range, organic meat, rashers and chicken. It’s a nightmare on the road.
Pepperoni pizza, Tayto or King crisp sandwiches — and it has to be Brennan’s white bread and Kerrygold butter.
Coffee, tea and chocolate. I drink herbal tea after six.
Going to the cinema. I also like to watch good documentaries, like on indigenous tribes from around the world.
Michael D Higgins, James Connolly, Boudica — a Celtic warrior queen who took on the Roman Empire — Nina Simone, Luke Kelly and Bob Marley.
The sea — especially in the summer. You think, you’re going to be in the sea soon, floating free of your clothes, free of your gravity, just freedom. You’re back in nature, you’re in the moment. It clears your head.
You are what you are — there’s not much point in trying to change what you can’t change. Maybe, I’d like to be a little slimmer around the waist.
After I watched 12 Years A Slave. I came back here to the house and listened to Marvin Gaye: Live in Montreux. From the slave trade... they turned it into something incredible — beautiful soul music.
Lack of empathy.
Lack of confidence. It’s an old colonial hangover. But you can face your fears and get over it. I’ve kind of proved it.
I do. I give thanks for everything good in my life — my family, my health, the roof over my head and enough to eat.
Writing a song.