The composer and choir director for Green Space Dark Skies on her love of the great outdoors and reading poetry
The best time to get up at the weekend is? I work most weekends to be honest. Every day, week, month is so different for me being self-employed. I work on lots of different projects all the time and sometimes weekends are my most productive and peaceful time as there are less emails and meeting requests coming in. I get up at about 6.30 or 7am. I really don’t like lie-ins actually and I’m definitely not a breakfast-in-bed type of gal. I’d rather get up and do something or chill out in the living room if I have a rare morning off.
Breakfast or brunch?
Breakfast food is my favourite. I absolutely love brunch with friends or family. I’d probably be eating eggs of some sort, with nice bread… but my favourite is when there are lots of different bits to graze and try. I’m a vegetarian and I love cooking lots of veggie food for friends.
What does an ideal Saturday look like?
I’d probably do some writing and meet people for coffee or lunch. I don’t get to see my friends or family as much as I’d like, so I would spend the whole day with people I love. If it was my absolute dream day, I’d maybe have a gig or a recording session as well and then go out dancing afterwards.
What would your perfect Sunday be like?
For it to be sunny and to spend the day outdoors – hiking or camping or going on some sort of an adventure. I really love going to gigs and festivals too. We have such a wealth of diverse musical talent here in NI and it needs nurtured and supported. There are an incredible number of festivals happening in NI of all sorts. It’s exciting to see what’s happening especially coming out of the pandemic and we're starting to get glimpses of what life was like before.
Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors always. I love being outside so much – especially as I spend so much of my time working in a dark studio. I love camping with friends. I’m especially obsessed with mountains and have been hiking all over the world. My favourites were Kilimanjaro in Kenya and doing the Camino in Spain a few years ago. That is why I have loved working on Green Space Dark Skies. This beautiful, unique, creative project that is so inspired by and linked to the great outdoors.
How have weekends changed as you have gotten older?
They’ve definitely changed. I used to gig a lot more and so would always have been gigging on weekend nights. Now I’m more likely to be in the studio writing music or making tracks. I used to love going to Auntie Annies and basically lived in The Black Box for many years. I still love the Black Box and some of my other favourites are places like The Sunflower, The American, The Errigle and for gigs the Ulster Sports Club.
If you could eat out anywhere tonight in NI, where would you go and why?
Jumon is my favourite restaurant in Belfast I think, so I’d go there. It’s so, so good. I also love La Taqueria.
What would you have?
Literally one of everything in Jumon – the food and drinks are delicious, and all vegan. In La Taqueria my favourites are the celeriac tacos and margaritas.
At weekends you’ll always make time to…
Drink nice coffee and see my fiancé as much as I can. He works in music too so our schedules are always all over the place but we try and make good quality time for each other. We are trying to plan some trips this year and we love going to gigs and festivals together. I think festivals will be especially exciting this year.
Do you sometimes work at weekends?
I was very excited to work on the Green Spaces Dark Skies event at Lagan Valley AONB. I was attracted to the project as it celebrates nature, our responsibility to protect it and everyone’s right to explore the countryside. Taking music out into this landscape and bringing hundreds of people to sing together was a very special moment. So too was gathering at dusk with the participants called Lumenators who carried a low impact light into the landscape to create large scale artworks. There was no live audience and we kept the exact location secret to protect the landscape. But even if you couldn't be there, the creative adventure has been filmed and will be available to watch for free, shortly, on the Green Space Dark Skies website.
W ho would you most like to go for a drink with and why?
My wee brother Graham, who is in Scotland. We don’t get to see each other very much these days. Also Jameela Jamil – I’d love to pick her brain and I think she’d be great craic.
Are you a weekend cook?
I do really love cooking – it chills me out and is a total departure from writing. I have less time for it now but some of my favourites to cook are Mexican food like quesadillas or tacos and anything with sweet potatoes or butternut squash. I eat a lot of salads and make soup during the week with whatever veg I have left over from our delivery. I used to cook a lot more but my partner definitely cooks more than me now.
What’s your dream Sunday dinner?
My mum’s nut roast with all the trimmings and good company.
Who do you normally eat Sunday dinner with and where?
I really want to start a Sunday dinner tradition. When we get our own house, I imagine hosting lots of dinners and having people round all the time.
T oo tired to cook – what are you ordering from the takeaway?
I’m not a mad fan of takeaway but we do definitely order it when we’re working a lot. I love pizza from somewhere like Belfast Woodfired or a paneer dish from Bites of India. I also really love the food in Kamakura. Oh, and the burgers from Hey Chick! Maybe I do like takeaway.
Heading for the cinema?
I go to the QFT all the time. I love the atmosphere there and the types of films they show.
I’m really not fussy with movies – I can enjoy most things. I love the spectacle. I like documentaries and psychological thrillers and mysteries and I love things that are a total escape from reality and verging on the absurd.
S taying in… what TV/streaming/catch-up programmes are on the menu?
I enjoy property shows and travel or music documentaries. Recently I have been really enjoying The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Succession. I am pretty partial to bubblegum TV too – helps me to totally switch off.
What are you reading?
I’m currently reading The Girl with the Loudening Voice by Abi Daré which is brilliant. My favourite book is probably Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. I love poetry and find it really inspiring – Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur had a massive impact on me when I first read it.
I am so bad at sleeping. I work very late and have absolutely no bedtime routine at all. In my dream life I would be zen and drink herbal tea and do yoga but I don’t really know if I’ll ever be that in reality.
The Green Space Dark Skies event at Lagan Valley AONB was developed by outdoor art experts Walk the Plank as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK. The project features thousands of participants aka Lumenators, recruited from across Northern Ireland, to help create large-scale outdoor artworks in some of the region's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The next event to take place is the Sperrin AONB on June 25. www.greenspacedarkskies.uk