Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard performing at Other Voices

The Irish success story of 2007, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s remarkable year was last month rounded off by an Oscar nomination for ‘Once’ – the low budget Irish movie they both starred in.

Nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar for ‘Falling Slowly’, a song they co-wrote, the accolade is one of many unexpected triumphs to have stemmed from the slow-burn success of John Carney’s movie.

Since its release less than a year ago, ‘Once’ has now made $14m (€9.5m) worldwide. Such a box office gross may seem paltry in relation to Hollywood standards however it marks a significant return on the film’s $160,000 (€108,000) budget.

Despite their success on-screen, it is on-stage where Irglová and Hansard feel most comfortable.

Hansard is of course best known as frontman of The Frames, while Irglová has been playing piano since she was seven. Neither sees themselves as actors, and met long before they had been cast in ‘Once’.

Now a couple off-screen as well as on, Hansard and Irglová first happened upon one another in 2001, when she was 13-years-old. At the time, The Frames were touring Czechoslovakia and the pair met through Irglová’s father, a musician and a friend of Hansard’s.

In 2005 they recorded an album together, ‘The Swell Season’, which was released in April 2006. In many ways, it was to prove partly inspirational for ‘Once’ and a number of the songs which appeared on ‘The Swell Season’ – ‘Falling Slowly’, ‘Lies’ and ‘When Your Mind’s Mad Up’ – were used in the movie.

Since the release of the film, the couple have toured the US as ‘The Swell Season’ and appeared on a number of high profile US TV shows including ‘Letterman’ and ‘Tonight with Jay Leno’.

Hansard’s year in particular has been busy, with the singer fitting in commitments with The Frames as well as promotional activities for ‘Once’. On The Frames front, a notable highlight for the band was the invitation to support Bob Dylan on the Australian leg of his ‘never-ending’ world tour at the great man’s request.

The year ahead will see Hansard work on a new Frames album while both himself and Irglová will perform as The Swell Season at the prestigious Coachella festival on 25 April and Boonaroo in Texas on 12 June. Evidently, 2008 is shaping up to be another busy year for the couple.

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