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Haunting pop voice of Elaine Mai belies her heavy metal past

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 08-Jun-2011

There is a haunting tenderness to Elaine Mai’s softly enunciated vocals and gently overlapping harmonies that offends the notion that the Galway-based songwriter might once have fronted a heavy metal band.

But when she first took to the stage in Galway around seven years ago, strange though it might seem, it was to lend her voice to a local metal quintet called Idle Hands.

“I used to listen to that kind of music,” admits Elaine. “I was a narky teenager there for a little while. Especially being from Mayo – we’re so misunderstood!

“Idle Hands was me and four guys who were absolute gentlemen and I had so much fun with them but I think, while it was a really good experience and it built my confidence and showed what I could do, the style that the guys were into didn’t really suit my voice,” she says.

“It was pretty heavy, it was pretty hardcore and my voice is kind of sweet, I suppose, for want of a better word. I don’t know if it really suited that.”

Her voice is sweet indeed and has since been put to better use in the form of her personal brand of acoustic pop as a solo artist that includes the effective use of a loop pedal to create enchanting, multi-layered harmonies, as well as a glock and a guitar.

In addition to her solo career, Elaine also sings with the popular Galway-based band Go Panda Go and has also performed with Laurie Leech and the Words. There are pros and cons to both playing with a band and performing solo, according to Elaine, and she is glad to have the opportunity to pursue both.

“There’s a good bit of difference musically,” she explains. “My solo stuff is mainly based around guitar and vocals and I do a lot of vocal harmonies and stuff with the loop pedal. With Go Panda Go, we’ve got four singers and we all pitch in here and there. I play synth in the band and I play the glock as well. So, it is very different.”

But perhaps the biggest difference between playing as a member of a band and performing alone on stage for Elaine is a tendency to suffer from nerves which belies her commanding and powerful live performances.

“Nerves have always been a huge thing for me,” she says. “I’ve always been extremely nervous. The first gig that I did on my own – my first solo gig – was just about 10 or 11 months ago and my housemate at the time, who is also the drummer from Go Panda Go, had to try to calm me down because I was absolutely freaking out and I didn’t think that I could go on and do it.

“But I did and, hard and all as it was, I was really glad that I did and it has gotten much easier since but I still do have nerves, definitely. Getting up on stage is the hardest part but once you get up there once you do the first song, it’s ok. I usually make that song one that I’m really ok with and one that I’m confident with so it will settle me down and I’ll get more into it.

“I’m looking forward to getting to the point where I can just really enjoy it. At the moment I’m still just a little bit nervous,” adds Elaine.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Galway Bay FM News Archives

Appeal for information following Portumna crash

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 08-May-2013

Gardai are appealing for witnesses following a single vehicle crash at the Portumna bridge this morning.

The road from Nenagh to Loughrea reopened shortly after 11 this morning following the completion of a technical exam.

Four men were travelling in a van when they hit the Portumna bridge around 6:30 this morning.

Gardaí, ambulance and two units of Portumna fire services rushed to the scene, and one of the men was taken to Portiuncula hospital in Ballinasloe.

He is being treated for head injuries, which have been described by Gardaí as serious.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Portumna Garda station on 09-097-42060

 

 

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

President Higgins among GMIT’s first ever honorary fellowships

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 10-May-2013

GMIT is to honour seven outstanding individuals including President Michael D Higgins with Honorary Fellowships at a special ceremony later this month.

It’s the first time in the 40 year history of the Institute the Governing Body of GMIT has decided to award honorary fellowships.

The GMIT Honorary Fellowships will be conferred at the g Hotel in the city this day two weeks Friday 24 May at 2.30pm in front of 200 invited guests.

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Galway Bay FM News Archives

Galway commuters hold their breath as LRC intervenes in bus strike

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 13-May-2013

Galway commuters are holding their breath as there has been a potential breakthrough in the Bus Eireann dispute, as both sides have agreed to talks at the Labour Relations Commission.

The LRC intervened this afternoon, on day two of strike action that has seen 95 per cent of bus services disrupted across the country.

The LRC’s Director of Conciliation Services, Kevin Foley, says the National Bus and Rail Union and the company have agreed to meet for mediated talks at 8 this evening.

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