A Question of Taste: Elaine Howley

Elaine Howley is a singer with the Altered Hours, one of the acts playing weekend festival It Takes A Village (April 13-15) in Trabolgan, Co Cork. She is from Tipperary Town, writes Des O’Driscoll

A Question of Taste: Elaine Howley

Elaine Howley is a singer with the Altered Hours, one of the acts playing weekend festival It Takes A Village (April 13-15) in Trabolgan, Co Cork. She is from Tipperary Town, writes Des O’Driscoll

Elaine Howley of the Altered Hours.
Elaine Howley of the Altered Hours.

Best recent book you’ve read: 

I’m reading a book by Richard Brautigan called Trout Fishing In America at the moment. Its a short novel from 1967 and is a surreal and humorous critique on America and deals too with the loss of old values. It doesn’t move in a straightforward way but you get the feel all the same and it’s very funny.

Best recent film:

The Double Life of Veronique (1991) directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski. it’s the story of a French woman, Weronika, a polish choir soprano, and her double, Veronique, a French music teacher. They do not know each other but Veronique can sense her double and they have a bond.

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

Arthuritis played recently at the Roundy in Cork. They are songwriter Arthur Pawsey’s group. It was such a great gig, the set up was synth, guitar, sax, drum machine, and bass. The music is pop, but spacey and challenging too and very funny — the performance was incredible.

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

I love the new Circuit des Yeux record called Reaching for Indigo.

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

The Grease soundtrack was the first tape I owned, aged 3. I knew all the words. I loved the rock songs but also the slow sad ones and had dances made up for the whole thing.

The best gig you’ve ever seen:

One gig that really stands out to me was Cat Power in the Olympia, in 2014. I love that venue. Cat Power was teetering on the edge all the time almost about to walk off stage and sometimes going off and coming back. Starting a song on guitar and then moving to the piano or adjusting the amp. At that gig she had no set and just played songs that she thought of as she went or songs the audience suggested. When she did settle into a song it sounded like the truest, most present thing.

Tell us about your TV viewing:

I stopped watching TV aged 18 because I was tired of it and haven’t had a TV since. I do watch some things online — mostly videos of live concerts or comedy. I really like the comedians Kate McKinnon and Tiffany Haddish.

Radio listening and/or podcasts:

I like An Taobh Tuathail on Raidio na Gaeltachta, the Blindboy podcast, and Quiet Angry Women on Dublin Digital Radio.

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

I’d love to see the Velvet Underground, the Modern Lovers, and Lizzy Mercier.

Your best celebrity encounter:

I met PJ Harvey for a short minute. I went to see her at a festival in Carlow, she was talking about making her album Let England Shake and she played one song on an acoustic guitar at the end called ‘Desperate Kingdom of Love’. I went up to say hi after and was so starstruck I had to lie in the grass afterwards.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history — where, when, and why?

I would go to Ireland when people first arrived. I would like to walk around the oak forests and hopefully not get eaten by bears or wolves.

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

The Life Centre in Cork. It’s a school for marginalised young people in Sunday’s Well. I worked there after college for three years and saw first hand the incredible difference they make to the lives of teenagers in Cork who are otherwise not given the support they need in mainstream education. The director Don O’Leary and deputy director Rachel Lucey work with heart, spirit, and integrity, and the young people that attend do incredible work too.

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

I would give women in Ireland reproductive rights, and build social housing.

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