Arts Q&A: Folk singer Ciara O'Neill on Glen Hansard, Damien Rice and Haruki Murakami

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Belfast folk singer Ciara O'Neill

Ciara O’Neill launches her new EP as part of Out to Lunch Festival

1. When did you think about a career in music and what were your first steps into it?

I'VE been singing my whole life and got singing lessons while at school. At university I missed having music in my life and joined my first band, from there I joined other bands and collaborated with lots of different artists.

I then started learning guitar and writing my own songs which led me to releasing two albums, The Ebony Trail in 2016 and Arrow in 2018. Over the last year, I've released two singles, Le Soleil and La Lune, and my new single and EP L'Etoile will be out this month. Music has created so many brilliant opportunities in my life which I'll be forever grateful for.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Glen Hansard at Belfast's Grand Opera House in 2019. The energy and passion he puts into his songs is just mesmerising. And my own gig at Nashville's Bluebird Café in 2016. It's one of the most prestigious music venues in Nashville and to sing in a place which has seen every songwriting legend grace its stage was very special.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

A mixture of Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

O by Damien Rice. His songwriting and the harmonies created by Lisa Hannigan are something special.

5. And the book you'd take to a desert island?

The 1Q84 trilogy by Haruki Murakami. It is huge and would keep me entertained for days.

6. Top three films?

Good Will Hunting: the storyline and acting is amazing and that scene with Matt Damon and Robin Williams gets me every time.

Once: it's very low budget which adds to its charm and the music, including another Glen Hansard performance, is incredible.

Finally, Manhattan: I love the humour in this film and New York in black and white, what's not to love?

7. Worst film you've seen?

The Keith Lemon film. Just awful.

8. Favourite authors?

Isabelle Allende, who can weave politics and fantasy into her family saga's with such ease, and Haruki Murakami. I first got into his writing about 10 years ago and loved it so much I ended up going to Japan on holiday.

Japanese culture just fascinates me. I've read all his books and he is one of the only authors I can go back and re-read again and again.

9. Sport(s) you most enjoy and top team(s)?

Yoga. I've practised yoga with Chandra Mauli (Love Serve Yoga) in Belfast for about eight years. It has improved me physically and mentally. I love it.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

I love travelling. I want to go to Copenhagen and Vietnam as soon as I can.

11. Pet hates?

Arrogance, bullying and when someone takes up two parking spaces.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Thai green curry.

Dessert? Hot chocolate fudge cake and ice cream.

Drink? French Martini or a good cup of tea.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

My friends Niamh and Michelle. We have known each other for 20 years and are still great friends, even though we don't see each other a lot. Also another musician friend, Amanda St John. We have spent many an evening laughing and putting the world to rights.

14. Is there a God?

Unsure. I was more religious when I was younger but I've fallen away from it. It's something I do wonder about though, but as long as I try to be a decent, good person I don't think it matters if I believe.

:: Ciara O'Neill will be appearing at the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in May. You can follow @ciaraoneillmusic on Facebook and Instagram.

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