Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Reader Profile: Zoë Howe

If we could design someone to perform at Bands & Books from scratch, we'd probably include in the spec that she should have written a book about the Slits and played percussion with Mick Jones.  But that would just be being too demanding right? 

Zoë is the editor of Iceland Music Export, and has written biogs, press releases and sleevenotes for artists including Bardi Johannsson, Command V, X Ray Spex and The Slits. Her writing has featured in The Quietus, Company, Classic Rock, BBC Music, Channel4Music, ITV, NME, Jazzwise, Notion, Contemporary and WENN. 

She has interviewed artists as diverse as Poly Styrene, Biffy Clyro, Mariah Carey, Pete Townshend, Macy Gray, Anna Friel, Suggs, James Chance, Wilko Johnson, Maximo Park,  Mugison, The Slits, Human League, Adrian Utley (Portishead), The Raincoats, Keith Levene, The Blockheads, Amon Tobin, The Tiger Lillies, Duke Spirit, The Twang, Pauline Black, Gareth Sager (The Pop Group) & Son Of Dave.

In 2010 Zoë made a series based on music and psychogeography for Resonance FM. The archives can be found here. She is  now working on a book  with Wilko Johnson and Cadiz Music, who produced the award-winning Julien Temple Dr Feelgood film Oil City Confidential. Her first novel is also coming to life...

Howe often appears at Gavin Martin's Talking Musical Revolutions, & she has played drums and percussion with artists including Anne Pigalle, Yumi Hara, Viv Albertine. Steve Beresford and Mick Jones. She recorded with Albertine and Jones at his Rock 'n' Roll Library in Ladbroke Grove in 2009.

Zoë has appeared as a talking head on E4, Planet Rock, BBC 6 Music, Absolute Radio, and has read at festivals including Stoke Newington Literary Festival, Un-Convention, Ladyfest, Writing On The Wall & Secret Garden Party. She is on the She is on the advisory board for Un-Conventional Women, a music event which takes place at the South Bank Centre in 2012.

Zoë has dedicated a YouTube channel to classic music writing: Rockanory - the Jackanory for Music Lovers. 

Zoë's latest book, 'Looking Back At Me' - the oral history of Wilko Johnson - is out on May 30th via

'There's no official guide to rock'n'roll parenting - the best (musicians) have is 'How's Your Dad?'.'  The Independent
'Howe does a superbly comprehensive, humorous job. Lively, warm and sensitive.'  **** Kris Needs, Record Collector

'Possibly the most important Brit-rock book of the year.' Gavin Martin (Daily Mirror /  NME / Rock's Family Trees) 
'A perfect representation written in the same spirit as them, absolutely spot-on in true kamikaze Slits fashion,'  ***** Kris Needs, Record Collector 

Having taken great pleasure in Booking Zoë for our summer party we were instantly excited about putting together her mixtape. Here's what Zoë had to say about her writing influences: 

Songs / bands that influence my writing: it depends what I am writing - if I am writing a band biog or working with a particular artist then I will listen to their music and the music they loved, were influenced by or were associated with - for example when I was working with Wilko Johnson from Dr Feelgood, I not only listened to the Feelgoods (which was no chore, I love 'em!) but also Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry (ok, I admit I was cheating, I listen to them all the time anyway...but you know). With the Slits book, I'd listen not only to the Slits but also Lilliput, The Pop Group, Prince Far I, the Raincoats, Public Image Limited, Flying Lizards - all artists who feature heavily in my record collection anyway. The Who and Pete Townshend's solo work has always inspired me, at once muscular and sensitive, questioning and incisive, and I also find the openness and often mystical bent of Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green and beyond) puts me in a good frame of mind for writing. They were all poets anyway.

You can catch Zoë at the Bands & Books Summer Party alongside Stuart Evers & bands Fountains & Tied To The Mast.  Book your tickets now!  Meanwhile, have a listen to Zoë's mixtape:

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