Features > Artist of the Month > December 2006
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   Irish singer/songwriter Damien Rice spent his childhood fishing and daydreaming in the countryside of Celbridge, County Kildare. Painting and writing songs inspired him as a young man, motivating Rice to put a band together. The heavy, indie rock sounds of Juniper were signed to Polygram in 1997 and "The World Is Dead" and "Weathermen" did moderately well on Irish radio. When it came time to recording a full-length album, contractual rules from the label prevented Juniper from doing so, and Rice split. He headed for the hills of Tuscany in 1999 and lived his life wandering around Europe. Rice returned to Dublin within a year to focus on music once again, scrounging up enough money to record a demo. Rice sent it to producer/film composer David Arnold (Björk, Nina Persson, Paul Oakenfold), and luckily for him, Arnold loved it. He set Rice up in his very own mobile studio to make a record. His first single, "The Blower's Daughter," was an instant Top 20 hit when it appeared in fall 2001. Shared gigs with McAlmont & Butler and folkie Kathryn Williams followed in summer 2002 when Rice released O in the U.K. The album hit the States in 2003, which earned the Irishman a dedicated group of American fans in addition to his European ones, and after satiating all of them with a collection of b-sides in 2005, Rice released his sophomore record, 9, the next year.