Arts Q&A: Belfast singer-songwriter Rory Nellis on Terry Pratchett, Chic and The Beatles

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Belfast singer-songwriter Rory Nellis

Belfast singer-songwriter Rory Nellis is taking part in this month's Belfast City Gardens events. Picture by Joe Laverty

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

I've been writing songs and playing in bands since I was about 16. I was hooked pretty much immediately and I've been at it ever since. We started off rehearsing and playing gigs in Giro's before graduating to upstairs in The Front Page. Both are sadly gone now, but I have brilliant memories of both. At the moment I'm enjoying the pop up gigs at Belfast City Gardens - it's fantastic being back out playing for people again.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

I saw Elbow in the Grand Opera House in 2008 and it was absolutely incredible. It was just after The Seldom Seen Kid came out and it was really special to see those tunes performed in such an intimate venue. Other favourites include seeing Paul McCartney play in the King's Dock in Liverpool in 2003 and Bombay Bicycle Club in the Barrowlands in Glasgow.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

That's easy. It has to be Chic. Nothing quite like a bit of disco to get the party started. If you're ever feeling stressed I highly recommend listening to Chic nice and loud.

4. The record you would take to a desert island?

Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus, because I still haven't got to the bottom of it. I sometimes dip my toe into playing a bit of jazz music, but it's an entire life's work to do it properly. It blows my mind.

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

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett. I've been reading the Discworld books since I was a teenager and have never got tired of them. They're full of really funny, ridiculous lines and some serious messages on life and the universe as well.

6. Top three films?

Ferris Bueller's Day Off because it introduced me to The Beatles, The Empire Strikes Back and Moneyball, because I watched it last week and I loved it.

7. Worst film you've seen?

I love superhero movies, but I tried watching Suicide Squad recently and only managed about half an hour.

8. Favourite authors?

Terry Pratchett, John Steinbeck and Philip Pullman.

9. Sports you most enjoy and top teams?

I love football and snooker. I'm a big Arsenal fan, which is quite difficult at the moment. Hopefully things will turn around soon. Saw Ronnie O'Sullivan play in the Crucible once, which was a pretty unforgettable experience.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

I've always wanted to go to Moscow so hopefully I'll manage that at some point. Either that or Universal Studios with my wife and kids.

11. Pet hates?

People jumping queues. Can't have it.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Sunday roast with lots of gravy.

Dessert? Vienetta. Affordable and delicious.

Drink? A perfect pint of Guinness, or a cold, cold Coke.

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

My wife. We met in the Limelight many years ago.

14. Is there a God?

No. Probably not.

:: Rory Nellis has been taking part in Belfast City Gardens, a pop up experience using the city's spaces for people to enjoy local musicians and entertainers. It runs each weekend throughout September at Belfast City Hall and at Cathedral Gardens, bedside St Anne's Cathedral. To find out who's playing visit Belfast One and Cathedral Quarter BID on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


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