Originally hailing from Tipperary Ireland, Elaine Howley is a vocalist and producer who merges an expansive tapestry of experimental, analogue processes with a love of classic songwriting and melodic hooks, to create a sound world that is distinctly her own.
Immersed in both the experimental music scenes in her adopted home of Cork, and the DIY ethos of Ireland’s alternative rock community, Elaine’s music grew out of years of varied, extensive collaborative practise, performance and experimentation. She has toured across Europe and the UK as the singer in the acclaimed psychedelic rock group, The Altered Hours, sharing stages with the likes of Fontaines DC, Wooden Shjips, Clinic and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Closer to home, she has played in ambient trio Crevice and folk group Morning Veils. It was through playing with these groups and performing with the improvisatory collectives The Dark Arts Orchestra and HEX and collaborating with composer Irene Buckley and musician Roslyn Steer that Elaine began to further explore vocal layering and manipulation, sampling, stretching and slowing things down to uncanny, enigmatic layers of sound.
After contributing to a host of critically acclaimed compilations, Howley released her first full length solo album ‘The Distance Between Heart and Mouth’ in 2022 through Touch Sensitive Records (David Holmes, Cherrystones, Documenta, Vox Populi). Pitchfork praised the album as “a spectral slow burn that refuses to trip over itself to get anywhere in particular. By absorbing the wisdom of the process, Howley permits her craft to resound deeper than ever”.
Elaine uses tape to process voice, drum machines and synthesizers, creating production that works in tandem with her songwriting to weave an intimate sonic tapestry that feels warm and esoteric all at once. The Distance Between Heart And Mouth was born out of a ritualistic practice of going to her home studio first thing in the morning, creating a daily audio-diary as soon as she woke. It’s unsurprising then that the resulting album emanates an intimate quality; blending deep synths, whisper-soft melodies, echoes, loops, beats and murmurs, recalling the likes of Trish Keenan, Tirzah and Leslie Weiner, while Elaine’s unmistakable voice cracks through the analogue gauze like a crystalline glint of daylight.
Electronic Sound Magazine praised The Distance Between Heart and Mouth describing the record as “nine detailed and hugely captivating vignette’s” while Backseat Mafia observed “The music bristles with experimental edginess but that doesn’t obscure the song craft or the clarity of the statements being made. Elaine Howley’s ‘The Distance Between Heart And Mouth’ bravely tells it like it is and we should be thankful that she does.”
The album, now in its second pressing, has received praise from The Sunday Times, The Examiner, The Thin Air and has been played by Mary Anne Hobbs and Tom Ravenscroft on BBC6 Music. Elaine has been playing live across Ireland in support of the record and made her London debut at the ICA gallery in May 2023.