zoë howe

book things, radio things, art things, music things, other things.

 

‘Zoë Howe is one of our favourite writers – she can make the essence and magic of the dark stuff seem so alive…’ 

JOHN ROBB, WRITER, BROADCASTER

'Highly recommend Zoë Howe's excellent Jesus and Mary Chain biography - a touching story of kids in the music business, recalled by their adult selves. A cut above....' 

EUAN McCOLM, The Scotsman

'The best rock bio I've ever read.'

ED MITCHELL, THE BLUES MAGAZINE (on Lee Brilleaux: Rock 'n' Roll Gentleman)

“One of the UK’s great biographers.”

DR SIMON WARNER, TEXT & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL

"Interviewees trust her, as they should...A beacon of modern music writing"

GLENN AIREY - LOUDER THAN WAR

'One of my favourite music books...'

LAUREN LAVERNE on Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story.

'A stunning reinvention of the memoir format. Five stars.

DAVE COLLINS, VIVE LE ROCK (on Wilko Johnson: Looking Back At Me)

‘Howe is a strong artist in her own right, one with the confidence and spark to return a sense of dignity, relevance & sparkling artistry to the tradition of biography.

JACQUELINE HOWLETT, STEP ON MAGAZINE

'Britrock book of the year...'

GAVIN MARTIN, Daily Mirror (on Typical Girls? The Story Of The Slits)

'This woman is a rock star.'

KINSI ABDULLEH, Write Idea Festival / Numbi Arts, London

 
 

BIO

Image by Michael White, Spring 2020

Zoë Howe is an internationally published author, broadcaster, musician and visual artist. Best known as a music biographer, her most recent book is the acclaimed Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, created with the late X-Ray Spex star’s daughter Celeste Bell. (The pair are alsocollaborating on the documentary 'Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché', with director Paul Sng). Zoë’s debut novel, 'Shine On, Marquee Moon’, was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction in 2016. Zoë's next book (appropriately her 13th) is Mind/Body/Spirit title 'Witchful Thinking' (Llewellyn, 2021).  Other books include the bestselling ‘Stevie Nicks – Visions, Dreams And Rumours’’Lee Brilleaux – Rock ‘n’ Roll Gentleman’,‘Barbed Wire Kisses – The Jesus and Mary Chain Story’,  Typical Girls? The Story Of The Slits’, ‘How’s Your Dad? Living In The Shadow of a Rock Star Parent’, ‘Florence + The Machine – An Almighty Sound’ and ‘Wilko Johnson – Looking Back At Me’. 

Zoë is a contributor to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow, taking up her position at Newnham, University of Cambridge in Autumn 2020. In 2015, the UK's first music writing festival Louder Than Words (founded by John Robb and Jill Adam) announced Howe as their 'Festival Luminary'. For details, click here. 

As of 2021, Zoë will be available as a writing mentor to a limited number of private clients, from authors to aspiring journalists. Email wjpress@icloud.com for further details and your enquiry will be forwarded.

OTHER WRITING: Howe was part of the research / editorial / curatorial team on ABBA: Super Troupers exhibition at the O2 Arena (now open until September 2020), curated by Jude Kelly. She was a contributing author to Aurora Metro books ’50 Women In The Blues’ (published Spring 2020) and ‘British Beat Explosion – Rock ‘n’ Roll Island’ and wrote the ‘fairytale’ sleevenotes for the award-winning Julien Temple documentary The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson. In 2015, Zoë joined the Doc 'n' Roll Film Festival jury.  Nothing if not diverse, she was the editor of Icelandmusic.is for five years, championing Icelandic artists on behalf of Iceland Music Export, and was also a rock ‘n’ roll agony aunt for The Blues Magazine and the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably - Dr Pop) using tough love and tunes to 'fix' readers' problems. 

Zoë has written biogs & sleevenotes for artists including the Jesus & Mary Chain, Wilko Johnson, Bardi Johannsson, Keren Ann, JB Benoit (Air), Command V (Pat Irwin & Bush Tetras’ Cynthia Sley), X Ray-Spex and The Slits (Peel Sessions). Her writing has featured in The Quietus, The Amorist, Channel 4 Music, Company, Classic Rock, BBC Music, ITV, NME, Eye, Notion, Gigwise, The Blues Magazine, BBC America and Contemporary amongst others, and she was commissioned to contribute an essay for The Roundhouse's anniversary website.

 

RADIO/MEDIA/APPEARANCES: Zoë's monthly show, 'The Witching Hour', is on Soho Radio. Listen to past episodes here. Zoë has appeared on BBC5 Live (Up All Night), BBC 6Music, Absolute Radio, Planet Rock, BBC Radio 2 and was a regular cover presenter for Gary Crowley's Punk & New Wave Show. In 2010, Zoë produced and presented a series of psychogeographic musical explorations for Resonance FM (City by City) and she occasionally appears on Sky Arts, E4, Planet Rock, BBC London / regionals. In the live arena, she has appeared at / hosted events at the British Library, Abbey Road Studios, Barbican, HomePlace, Raindance, Louder Than Words, Scottish Book Week, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Aye Write, HumberMouth, Tallinn Music Week (in conversation with Barry Adamson, Iain & Jane etc), Stoke Newington Literary Festival (headlining w/Wilko Johnson, 2012), Talking Musical Revolutions, Metal Culture, Doc ‘n’ Roll, Essex Book Festival, Un-Convention, Ladyfest, Writing On The Wall & Secret Garden Party. 

 

She has been interviewed about her work on WNYC Soundcheck, That Eric Alper Show (Sirius FM), BBC 6Music, BBC Radio 2, Planet Rock, Teen Vogue, The Independent, the Guardian, Forbes, CBS, Diva Magazine, Rolling Stone and elsewhere. A former actor and photographic / artist's model, Zoë has worked with Nadav Kander; one of his images of her appearing in the National Portrait Gallery. She also features in his book ‘Beauty’s Nothing’. 

ARTZoë's work has featured in the inaugural Nasty Women exhibition in London, Jack Monroe's 'Art For Orlando' fund-raiser, Ply Gallery, We Built This City, White Conduit Projects, Focal Point Gallery's 21 venue, Leigh Art Trail, Estuary Fringe Festival and as part of Metal's FLUX exhibition on Southend Pier alongside artists including Billy Childish. She is part of Thames Group of Artists' show All Kinds Of Naughty, a celebration of Ian Dury, launching at Sophie Parkin's Stash Gallery, London, in 2021 www.zoehoweartist.com

MUSICZoë plays drums & percussion, & has worked with Viv Albertine, The Plan (w/ Wetdog's Rebecca Gillieron), Wobbly Lamps, Helen McCookeryBook, Steve Beresford, Charli XCX, Anne Pigalle, Mick Jones, Yumi Hara, Platypus &c.

 

NEWS / PRESS / EVENTS

EVENTS: 2020!

January 11th:  Signing copies of 'Barbed Wire Kisses - The Jesus and Mary Chain Story' with Jim and William Reid at Rockaway Beach Festival, 7pm, courtesy of Pie and Vinyl.

February 7th: Museum of London, International Clash Day - Celeste Bell and I will be discussing our Poly Styrene biography 'Dayglo'. More here. 

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COVID-19 - ALL LIVE APPEARANCES (INC EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL) POSTPONED. STAY HOME, STAY SAFE, KEEP READING!

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WORD IN YOUR ATTIC WITH MARK ELLEN & DAVID HEPWORTH

April 2020: Thrilled to be invited on Word In Your Ear's lockdown extravaganza Word In Your Attic for a bit of show and tell. Dr & The Medics, Minder and Marquee Moon feature. Expect a great deal of waxing about Detective Sergeant Chisholm, one of the great TV characters of all time. 

JUNE 10: FILM Q&A: 'UPSTAIRS PLANET'

I had a great time hosting an online q&a for Doc 'n Roll with director Graham Bendel about his new music film 'Upstairs Planet: The Cleaners From Venus and the Universe of Martin Newell'. Watch it again here! 

JULY 9: FILM Q&A 'CARMINE STREET GUITARS'

Truly lovely to host the Q&A for Ron Mann's beautiful music doc 'Carmine Street Guitars' for Curzon Living Room, featuring Ron himself, Rick Kelly and Cindy Hulej from the shop itself and the mighty Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith Group) who even sang me a little 'thank you' song at the end (OMG). We had so much fun. Click here to view.



 

NO MORE WORKHORSE INTERVIEW 

Jolly nice of No More Workhorse's Killian Laher to invite me for a chat about my rock 'n' roll 'year in review' - a few surprises.... take a gander!

FLORENCE-RELATED Q&A!

Just found this long-lost interview conducted by the lovely people at the Florence + The Machine Fan Club (PL). I have a quick chat about writing 'Florence + The Machine: An Almighty Sound' (Omnibus Press). Have a look.

MAY 7TH 2020: BBC4 9pm...

BAFTA-winning director Norman Stone’s 2008 film ‘Florence Nightingale’ is on, feat class act Laura Fraser as Flo, Roy Hudd (RIP), Andrew Harrison & YES, ME, playing Queen Vic. T'was a thrill to be in this production, not least because I’d already moved into writing & this would be the last thing I did in that respect, thanks to makeup artist Ann Fenton remembering me from a shoot & recommending me for an audition. Thank you Ann! Behold the trailer.

PODCAST FROM THE PAST

Thrilled to be a guest on Postcard From The Past's excellent podcast alongside the marvellous Andy Miller (Backlisted, Tilting At Windmills). The episode is called 'I've Got A Haunted Postcard Of Keith Moon' (I do) and here it is. Download them all, subscribe! You'll be glad you did.

BRILLEAUX BOOK IN SHORTLIST 'GREAT ROCK BIOG' FEATURE

My Lee Brilleaux book has just been featured by Shortlist as a 'great rock biography'. Thanks to Robyn Law at Blackwell's! I also joined the dashing Mark Ellen and David Hepworth for a Brilleaux / 1971 Word In Your Ear sesh at The Islington on April 12th - check out the Word podcast here. 

BIG ISSUE / LOUDER THAN WAR

Thanks Big Issue North for inviting me to write an 'Off The Shelf' column (it's about girls and gigs!), and to Bryony Hegarty at Louder Than War for this lovely review of 'Shine On, Marquee Moon'. 

Q&A - THE MUSE UK / PENNYBLACK

Thanks to The Muse UK for featuring me as their latest 'In Conversation With...' personage. Here's a link. I get a bit ferocious. And here's a nice interview with Penny Black Music! 

WOW24/7 'WOMEN IN MUSIC'

Thanks Wow24/7 for inviting me to write about women in the music biz. Here's the link! It's short & sweet (salty). 

'SHINE ON' VALENTINE'S INDIE PICK!

Big thanks to Self-Publishing Magazine for interviewing me about the book (and my decision to go DIY)! Read sensational revelations about stupid trousers, broken biscuits, dangerous plastic cups and MUCH, MUCH MORE!

VELVET SHEEP / SONG FOR EWE

Thanks to Nick Hutchings at Velvet Sheep for inviting me to contribute a 'Song For Ewe' - take a gander / a listen! 

BRITISH LIBRARY INTERVIEW

Chuffed to bits to be interviewed by the British Library, a place I like to spend as much time as possible for all sorts of reasons. Here I chat about how I used their archive when I was writing the Slits biography 'Typical Girls?' over a decade ago.

LLEWELLYN ACQUIRES 'WITCHFUL THINKING'

Super proud to reveal that the historic occult book publisher Llewellyn Worldwide has signed up my next non-fiction book, 'Witchful Thinking' (appropriately my 13th book project) which will be out the second half of 2021. A bold step out of the broom closet! Stay tuned... 

GLOOMY SUNDAY MARY CHAIN MAGIC!

Honoured to take the 'Celebrity Gloominess' spot on artist Sadie Hennessy's final 'Gloomy Sunday' radio show. I share my favourite gloomy song (well, one of them) which may or may not be Mary Chain-related. Have a listen! 

SOHO RADIO: THE WITCHING HOUR RETURNS

My magical monthly Soho Radio show The Witching Hour has returned - in a ‘lite’ lockdown format for the time being.

Expect midsummer magic and news about the upcoming Sunday Salons from Magickal Women Conference, advice about cream teas, a nod to the stunning Magpie And The Wardrobe book plus the beautiful music doc ‘Carmine Street Guitars’. 

Tunes from Billy Stewart, The CureLouis ArmstrongMaddy Prior & Tim Hunt, Dr John, Jim Jarmusch’s group SQÜRL, Spinal Tap & more.

Light the candles, pour a cup & listen again to the July 17th show (and all previous ones) here!

'ALL KINDS OF NAUGHTY' SHOW POSTPONED

The Thames Group of Artists' group show 'All Kinds Of Naughty', inspired by the lyrics of Ian Dury, has been postponed until further notice. Find out more about the show here.

OUT SPRING 2020: 50 WOMEN IN THE BLUES

Proud to have contributed the introduction to this special Aurora Metro Books publication, '50 Women In The Blues' (big thanks to Sister Cookie, Ed Mitchell and Deitra Farr) feat. the photography of Jennifer Noble. What a subject! The blues is a woman <3

https://aurorametro.com/product/50-women-in-the-blues/

JAMC / BRILLEAUX BOOK NEWS!

'Barbed Wire Kisses' and 'Rock 'n' Roll Gentleman' are out now as new editions, both containing additional material (the former inc my unabridged interview with both Jim AND William Reid, conducted for Psychocandy Live.) BWK is now available via the Jesus and Mary Chain's merch store! 

STOP PRESS, MAY 2020: THANKS TO THE JAMC tor publishing the first chapter of my biography of the band 'Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story' on their official website. Cockahoop!

NME LISTS 'SHINE ON' IN 'OBJECTS OF DESIRE' COLUMN

Thrilled to hear that 'Shine On, Marquee Moon' has been included in the NME's 'Things We Like - Objects Of Desire' list! Should YOU desire it, click here.

DEBUT NOVEL SHORTLISTED FOR VIRGINIA PRIZE FOR FICTION

Amazed to hear my debut novel 'Shine On, Marquee Moon'was shortlisted for the Virginia Prize. 'Shine On, Marquee Moon' is out now (Matador). Order the paperback or buy an audiobook here! 

BIGMOUTH PODCAST!

My biography of Stevie Nicks - 'Visions, Dreams & Rumours - is out now in paperback via Omnibus! Check out the ace Bigmouth podcast, which features a chat about the tome. The b-format edition of 'Lee Brilleaux - Rock 'n' Roll Gentleman', meanwhile, was released with a Warners box-set this summer, sleeve-notes by yours truly.

KINO REVIEW / THE STINGER

Darren Johnson wrote a lovely review of my Talking Musical Revolutions book event at Kino, St Leonards, curated by the ace Gavin Martin. And here it is! 

IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW ON 'STEP ON'

Big thanks to the super cool Step On Magazine for being so supportive and writing this amazing piece! Features a Q&A too. Bottoms, tutus and Sherlock Holmes feature. As does my new book.

ACADEMY GROUP BLOG FUN 

The Academy Group asked me to write a blog for them about how to write a rock star biography for Read A Book Day. And so I did! And here it is!

MYTH-BUSTING ON CHICK LIT CLUB!

Cheeky piece by moi on 'We Heart Reading' about novel-writing. Take a gander!  

'STORIES FROM THE SHE-PUNKS' - 

Much fun hosting this with Helen McCookeryBook, Gina Birch (Raincoats), Tessa Pollitt (Slits) & Jane Woodgate (Mo-Dettes) at British Library. Post-Q&A the merry throng - myself included (on cardboard box) - performed 'Oh Bondage, Up Yours'. Poly Styrene RIP. I'm also thrilled to have recently recorded drums on a song of Helen's, watch this space! 

SPEAK / READ GERMAN? CHECK OUT MY ROCKETTE 'INSTAVIEW'!

The fab folk at Swiss music site Rockette conducted a Q&A with me based on their findings on my Instagram! Check it out here. 

CONTACT

for enquiries or to buy a signed book direct from the author, please email: wjpress@icloud.com

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