Meet SPIDER: the catholic school girl turned rockstar who’s the ultimate DIY artist

Not too long ago, the Dublin-born songwriter would throw up at the sight of a guitar – but the power of live music changed her mind, and her music, forever.



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SPIDER’s introduction to the world of guitar music came much later than most. Having grown up in a heavily-religious academically-focused family, the Irish-Nigerian musician’s dad banned her from going to gigs. “Because I grew up knowing it wasn’t something I was really able to do, I let go of it,” she reflects. This isn’t to say that her parents hated music, they just “weren’t very creative-minded,” she adds, recalling that two of her CDs would be playing in rotation at home – Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani and Burn by Usher.

Instead, SPIDER’s gateway came when she began studying music in class at Catholic school in Dublin – but only after bargaining with her dad that she would take a science subject, too. Being in a room with pianos, guitars and “other people who were able to interact with music in a way that I hadn’t seen before” was inspiring for her, as was going to youth groups. When it came to picking up the guitar herself, she would try to learn the easiest songs possible; “I was too lazy to look up the actual chords so I would go for whatever was close enough,” she remembers.

The internet played a huge part in her adolescence, too. Not only did going online help her to discover many different genres and bands, it also introduced her to fandom culture. “I spent most of my time in corners of the internet,” she says, citing artists like Halsey, 5 Seconds Of Summer and Lorde. “That’s when I was like, ‘I want to do this as well’,” she recalls.

Incidentally, SPIDER’s first gig turned out to be a concert to see her “stan band” 5SOS but she had to be supervised. “It took two friends to convince my parents,” she says. Thankfully, they managed to – “my life was changed after that”. Although they were undoubtedly a pop band, SPIDER says 5SOS’s guitar influences were clear and, consequently, she became curious about who inspired them. She felt the same about bands like All Time Low and Green Day.


Fan Fave

While the artist who went on to become SPIDER would confidently make fan accounts for personalities in the band (“that was my thing”), the academic side of music didn’t particularly interest her. In fact, she very nearly failed music theory class. “I wasn’t technically great,” she says.

Later, in her teenage years, as SPIDER started to play keyboard and write songs, she also got into “heavier stuff” (mainly female-fronted 90s rock bands). However, having given up on guitar after one summer of lessons aged 12 (“I was really bad at it”), it wasn’t until she turned 21 that she finally started to incorporate guitars into her own music. She was also put off thanks to the “cringe-y” acoustic-guitar-led songs that would play on Irish radio in 2016.

This meant that, when she moved to London to pursue music, she “didn’t want to look at a single instrument. I was very anti-acoustic-guitar. I would throw up at the sight of one,” she laughs. Living in London and being able to go to gigs and see live bands opened her eyes, however. This introduction to live environments was “what changed my mind, slowly but surely,” SPIDER says. “I started seeing a lot of music with guitars that genuinely moved me and touched my soul, and I was like ‘wait’! I stopped lying to myself and realised that I have always liked guitar music.”


A period of self-reflection during the pandemic saw her going back and listening to a lot of music with guitars too. One of her housemates had left her guitar in their flat while she returned to isolate with her family so SPIDER took it upon herself to make use of the instrument that was just sitting around. Re-teaching herself basic chords, playing songs and writing on her guitar made her have an epiphany: “‘Oh, am I a guitar girl now?’” she remembers saying to herself.

Although she didn’t have any particular guitar heroes growing up (and still doesn’t), she says that, now, a lot of her influences are female-fronted 90s rock bands, including Bikini Kill and Hole. One artist whose story inspires her, however, having recently read about her life, was Courtney Love. “I really liked how people said she couldn’t actually play guitar all that well, and that really resonates with me because that’s how I sometimes feel about myself,” she says, “but she was still able to make some really great music.” This has given her further confidence, she says: “It’s great to know that some of the best rock songs weren’t made by people who were guitar legends: you don’t need to be a child prodigy to make a good song.”

SPIDER photographed with a Squier Stratocaster

Proper Job

SPIDER’s introduction to the world of guitars may have come a lot later than most, but she’s certainly made up for lost time. On her new, third EP, an object of desire, she played all the riffs herself. Having spent an entire summer teaching herself how to produce guitars by watching intently at studio sessions and “making the worst beats on earth,” she also ended up self-producing three out of its five tracks. “It was really important to me,” she says, “because before then I didn’t really know how to”; although she produced her first EP and some of her second, there was a big difference – she wasn’t playing real guitar on those. “It was VSTs and a MIDI keyboard with stock plug-ins, trying to envision what a guitar would sound like in my head, and recreate that,” she reflects.

Those studio sessions also helped SPIDER to find her own sound, which combines elements of punk, grunge, rock and pop, as well as pop. “5,6,7,8 was the first song where I thought ‘this is good!’” More than anything, she says, “I didn’t want to have to rely on a guy,” recalling previous studio sessions. “I had this weird thing about being the alt girl having to go to the guys’ studio to make her alt music. I don’t know why.”

In the future, SPIDER’s aspiration is “to become a proper guitar player.” While at the minute her process is “fucking about, doing whatever and recording what I think sounds cool,” she would love to play the guitar at her live shows, too, but feels “intimidated” by that idea. “Playing real guitar is a studio thing for me, because I can be bad at it in the privacy of a studio,” she says. “I don’t worry about actually playing well, it’s more worrying about if it sounds cool and is inspiring me.” Approaching the guitar this way “takes so much pressure off me,” she adds. “It might take a while for me to get there, but my final form will be really cool to play guitar on stage.”

SPIDER photographed with a cross pendant

Catch Yourself

Talking of live performance, a gig environment is where SPIDER and her music really thrive. Jumping around and getting people fully involved is “more fun for me,” she says. “A lot of the music is so upbeat that it just makes sense for me to be in people’s faces,” she says. When Guitar saw her perform at The Great Escape festival in Brighton several years ago, she quickly won over the arms-crossed audience. As she had been told not to expect too much at that particular gig, she says she went into it with the attitude of ‘I’m going to do whatever I want’ and has carried this energy forward to all her shows.

Something that SPIDER – who has already supported BLACKPINK, Connie Constance and Lynks – has noticed is that the audiences at her own shows are often much older than her. “It’s mostly dudes, so sometimes I feel like I have to assert myself a bit,” she says. “I can’t leave any room for them to question if I’m shy. On the stage, it’s like ‘I am indeed here’.”

While she says she loves rock music, as a genre, she was “daunted because I wondered if I could even claim that space if I can’t play a guitar all the way.” What has helped her, though, is viewing rock and alt as “more of a mindset than ability. A lot of people know guitar skills and chords, but it’s about people being from the outskirts of society and uplifting that. If your mind is not alternative then are you?”


A big, unexpected foot in the door for SPIDER has been TikTok, having had, as she modestly puts it, “a few small moments on there.” But, because of some of the people (or types of people) that have found her videos, she says, “I have a love/hate relationship with that damn app.” While she appreciates the fact that it “levels out the playing field a lot… being a woman of colour doing alternative music,” she has faced a lot of online hate along the way. “When you cast your net that wide to catch your audience, you’re also gonna catch people who hate your fucking guts,” she says in a very matter-of-fact manner, referring specifically to the white nationalist corner of the platform.

She’s not let the haters get her down, though. If anything, it’s had the opposite effect, having spurred SPIDER on to speak her mind even more. an object of desire, her freshly-released third EP, is a personal exploration of topics such as intimacy, desire and objectification.

“What is the line between them?” she asks rhetorically. “As a young woman navigating the dating scene and just being somebody with a body interacting with other people who have bodies, I had a lot of questions that I felt no-one was answering.” By sharing how she’s feeling, she hopes that people will be able to relate to the topics and “give them permission to feel a certain way. There’s so much taboo around these types of things, and I’m hoping the EP helps to remove that.”

As for big ambitions, SPIDER is aiming high: “I definitely want to be one of the biggest rockstars in the world,” she manifests, “but I never want to put pressure on one specific project to take me there.” A goal that she hopes to achieve far quicker is using her platform to “open up that avenue for other girls, other girls of colour… and people who can’t really play guitar that well.”

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