‘A social justice fire is burning in me’: Laura Elizabeth Hughes muses

by James Hendicott

Librarian by day, ambitious and imaginative songwriter by night, Laura Elizabeth Hughes is working on the idea of her twin passions meeting in the middle.

She’s always been into writing. Lyricism is key to her work, but she also jots ideas in the more conventional sense, and is working on bringing her music, and other music, into libraries, too.

Her passions make for a disparate fusion, but it’s one that’s working: the Dubliner’s YouTube channel is closing in on three million views, her music giving that sense of an ambient canvas against which her voice can paint a stark, emotive picture.

“Lyrics are something people will take different things from,” she tells us.

“People connect in different ways, and it’s very personal to me. The human condition can be very individual, but also universal, so I think I just have to put myself out there and hope it connects.

“It’s a singles and EPs game at the moment, but I’m focusing on getting back into the game. There might be an album one day, but 8, 10, 12 tracks is a lot to ask.”

There’s a philosophy to the way Hughes has risen in recent months, and it’s one, perhaps unwittingly, that might sound familiar to fans of the comedian Danny Wallace.

‘Saying Yes to Things’

Wallace, feeling frustrated with life, decided to say yes to … well, pretty much anything he was asked.

The resulting book led to a Hollywood movie, and changed his life.

“I’ve been of the mind, since summer last year, to just say ‘Yes’ to things,” Hughes says, echoing Wallace’s thesis.

“It’s created some wonderful opportunities. I spend my days in Dublin libraries, telling stories to kids all day. Two years in libraries has opened my eyes.

“The kind of people who go to libraries, there can be a lot of outreach, and it opens your eyes to privilege and changes your worldview.

“I write a lot of unpublished stuff, and there’s a real social justice fire burning in me at the moment.”

In fact, Hughes adds, she could easily release an album if it were only down to having the music.

It’s a question of both sticking to the very highest quality stuff, and keeping some of the tracks to herself.

“Sligo Tourism asked me to use a song on their adverts, which was a bit of a no-brainer for me,” she says of a busy year.

“But a lot of my work is about writing and never makes it to music. I ‘ramble-write’ a lot in my journal, and the subject matter informs my music.”

‘Pressure’

Speaking about her forthcoming headline show in The Sound House – part of a longer headline tour – Hughes admits there is a pressure.

“I’ve played there as a support slot before,” she says, “but that’s different – you can just play and there’s no real pressure.

“I do worry it’s just me and my guitar, playing quiet music, and that I might be swallowed up.

“There’s more pressure with headlining, but you do at least know that they’re there for you, which is nice, too.

“I’ve only just started doing [a] full bands show, and I do like the idea of having two ways of playing – one that’s just me, and one that’s a bit more.

“At the moment, it’s all about milestones and hitting those little moments. I have my goals, but they’re not about those big ideas of success, they’re more about crossing little borders. I want to connect.”

Laura Elizabeth Hughes plays the Sound House, Eden Quay on April 9. Tickets, priced at €12.50, are on sale now.

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