February 23, 2020 at 1:39 pm PST | by John Paul King
Scottish songsmith ONR announces EP and tour, drops new single

ONR (Photo Credit: Brian Ziff)

Rising Scottish pop musician ONR has a new album on the way, and he’s dropped the first single to celebrate its upcoming release.

ONR (pronounced “honor”) is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and self-taught producer hailing from a sheep farm in the Scottish Highlands. Born Robert Shields, he spent his childhood being inspired (not to mention bored) at his family’s farmhouse on cliffs overlooking the North Sea; as a means of escaping the rural isolation, he began writing and performing his own songs around the age of 12 or 13, teaching himself piano on a battered instrument missing half its keys that he uncovered in the family shed. While still in school, he won a songwriting competition judged by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and was later offered a place at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, founded by Sir Paul McCartney. He declined the invitation.

Instead, the young musician honed his craft – which he was intent on perfecting – on his own, and his early, self-released efforts caught the attention of a manager who flew him out to LA – his first time out of Scotland ever – culminating in a label war. Still not feeling ready for the heat of success, mentally or physically, he turned it all down again.

He continued to fine-tune his songwriting and perfect his live show, performing hundreds of gigs across Europe. Eventually, he found himself touring with acts like Bastille, while immersing himself amongst Scottish hit-makers Lewis Capaldi and Calvin Harris. Now, Shields says he has finally figured out who he is as a songwriter, and is making music that is true to himself – something of which he says he is “proud.”

ONR now continues to carve his own lane in pop with new track “Sober” (feat. Carina Jade), which he dropped on Friday. Aglow with an ‘80’s-inspired throb, “Sober” is his debut release on Warner Records and the first from his forthcoming EP, “Must Stop,” which comes out on May 15. The EP will feature “four sparkling synth-pop gems with an anthemic rock undertow,” almost entirely written, played and self-produced in Shields’ home studio in Dumfries and Galloway.

In addition to the new track and EP, ONR has also announced a UK/European tour with Jake Bugg, which will play venues in Liverpool, Edinburgh, and more before taking the stage at the prestigious Reading & Leeds Festival this August.

You can watch the video for “Sober” below.

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