A question of taste: James O'Leary

James O’Leary founded the band Interference with the late vocalist Fergus O’Farrell. The remaining members of the band will be joined by special guests for a gig at Cork Opera House tomorrow night as part of the Right Here Right Now series of concerts at the venue over the weekend.

A question of taste: James O'Leary

Born in Stockholm to a Swedish mother, O’Leary now lives in Dublin with his wife and three boys. He also works as an architect.

Best recent book you’ve read:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. A surreal and scary fairytale for grown ups.

Best recent film:

Arrival. I love science fiction. This was a great twist on the alien ‘close encounter’ genre with a beautifully crafted soundtrack by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson.

Best recent show/exhibition/gig you’ve seen:

Stars of the Lid at the National Concert Hall last October. This band create epic ambient soundscapes live with walls of guitar loops, a vintage Moog synthesiser the size of a house and a string quartet. A light show of lasers and projections light up the concert hall... awesome dude!

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):

Art Blakey’s A Night in Tunisia (Blue Note Records). I started listening to more Jazz after seeing the movie Whiplash (which is also in my top recent movies).

First ever piece of music or art or film that really moved you:

Queen in the RDS 1984. I think this was the first proper rock concert I went to when I was a kid.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen:

U2’s Zoo TV in Rotterdam in 1992.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

BBC Four, science, arts programmes, Scandi dramas (Borgen, The Killing, The Legacy etc.). Stranger Things on Netflix was great, really looking forward to the next series. Can’t Cope Won’t Cope was a standout homegrown production.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

I’m a bit of a news junkie in the morning, evening time its RTÉ, Arena, washing the dishes to John Creedon.

You’re curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?

Talking Heads, Jimi Hendrix, 70’s era Bowie (with Mick Ronson and Robert Fripp on guitars).

Your best celebrity encounter:

I met BB King (in 1986 I think) when Interference appeared on RTÉ’s Borderline and he was appearing on the same show. BB chatted with me briefly backstage about us being guitar players (like you do!), and gave me a plectrum, my lucky plectrum (which I lost shortly after).

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event?

The passage tomb at New Grange has just been completed, dawn is breaking on the morning of its first winter solstice. Head honchos in attendance, weather conditions optimal... phew!

Do you have any interesting family or ancestors?

Great great Uncle Waldemar on my mother’s side who, having been cast off to Australia by his family in the 1890s set up an (unsuccessful) religious cult and rode around on a horse in a white cape, in the end living out his days as a hermit on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Unsung hero – individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve:

Brú Columbanus, who provide a ‘home from home’ accommodation for relatives of seriously ill patients in any of the Cork hospitals and the hospice; and the Respite Care Unit of Schull Community Hospital.

You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?

I read recently the story of the Cape Verde Islands where in the late 1960s a cargo ship carrying a very large consignment containing hundreds of the latest synthesizers and organs destined for Brazil ran a ground. The leader of the country seized the equipment and declared that instead of giving it back the equipment should be distributed to all the schools on the island, influencing the indigenous music of the country in a weird and wacky way ever since. So something like that... free synthesizers to be given to all the schools in Ireland.

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