Arts

Q&A: Annie Kinsella on Emmylou Harris, Peter Gabriel and husband Kieran Goss

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, singer Annie Kinsella, wife of Co Down singer-songwriter Kieran Goss

Husband and wife duo Annie Kinsella and Kieran Goss will be performing in Derry and Belfast next month

1. When did you think about a career in music and what were your first steps into it? My sister learned guitar at school and when she sang, I would sing harmony to her without knowing that that was what I was doing. I was about six or seven at the time. I joined my first band when I was 18, playing drums and singing background vocals. While I was working a day job in the civil service I was offered an audition as a singer in an a cappella group. I got the gig and immediately gave up the civil service job, which I hated. I've been singing ever since.

2. Best gigs you've been to? The Blue Nile at The National Stadium, Dublin, September 1996. If you know The Blue Nile's music you can imagine… it's incredible to hear that sonic panorama in a live setting and they're a powerful live band. When the last song ended there was absolute silence in the room for a few seconds as if the whole audience was holding its breath. Then everyone in the room got to their feet. It was an almost religious experience. Also, Emmylou Harris at The Olympia, Dublin, 1997. Emmylou had not long released the album Wrecking Ball, well into her long established and respected career. It was an album that alienated some of her original fans, but brought a whole new generation of people to her music, myself included. Her voice in that new setting was perfection. She owned the stage that night. It was a vocal masterclass.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band? Tower of Power, with David Garibaldi on drums.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island? So by Peter Gabriel. That album is such a trip… it's full of great, great songs and every time I go back and unpack it, I'm struck by how beautifully constructed it all is. The album was my introduction to Kevin Killen's work. Kevin engineered and mixed So. Me and Kieran [Goss] both loved his mixes and have followed his career over the years. It was a dream come true for us that he agreed to engineer and mix our latest album Oh, The Starlings.

5. And the book? I don't read a huge amount of poetry, but Seamus Heaney's Opened Ground would be my desert island book. His ability to condense huge themes and emotions into the small spaces of everyday language and experience breaks my heart.

6. Top three films? Some Like it Hot, Wayne's World and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

7. Worst film you've seen? The Lord of the Rings. I'd read the books and loved them, and in fairness it was a huge ask to transfer a story of that magnitude to film. How do you capture the vastness, the sense of time passing and distance travelled on film? I was disappointed, but not surprised.

8. Favourite authors? Seamus Heaney, John McGahern and George Monbiot.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team? If I have a gun to my head and have to watch sport on TV, it'll be women's gymnastics, or diving or ice skating.

10. Ideal holiday destination? New York. I love the energy of the city, the constant buzz, the history, the food, the people… everything about it. Kieran and I spent a couple of months in New York recording our new album, so I was in the happiest of places during that time.

11. Pet hate? Litter. It's just so very dumb.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? I'm vegetarian and I love Italian food, so anything that ticks both of those boxes.

Dessert? Chocolate cake.

Drink? Pint of Guinness please.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other? Is it corny to say my husband? I don't care. It's my husband. He's the person I most want to spend time with.

14. Is there a God? I don't know. I hope so. I hope there's a heaven. There are a lot of people and animals I'd like to think I'll see again. Either way I think it's best to live as if this here and now is all we've got. We might be better people for it.

:: Annie Kinsella and Kieran Goss will be performing material from their debut duo album Oh, The Starlings at The Playhouse, Derry (derryplayhouse.co.uk) on June 8 and Belfast's Lyric Theatre on June 9 (lyrictheatre.co.uk).

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