On my radar: CMAT’s cultural highlights

<span>CMAT, AKA Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson.</span><span>Photograph: Sarah Doyle</span>
CMAT, AKA Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson.Photograph: Sarah Doyle

Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, who performs as CMAT, was born in Dublin in 1996 and grew up in nearby Dunboyne. She formed a band at 18 but quit after three years and later reinvented herself as a solo artist blending country music with pop and other influences. Her 2022 debut, If My Wife New I’d Be Dead, won the RTÉ Choice music prize for Irish album of the year. The Observer described her follow-up Crazymad, for Me as “one of the finest” albums of last year – “about as much fun as a record about a toxic power imbalance can be”. CMAT plays the O2 Forum Kentish Town on 16 May and Sheffield’s Kelham Island Museum on 18 May.

1. Architecture

Yankee Stadium, New York City

I went to see the Yankees play the Miami Marlins the other night at the Yankee Stadium, way uptown in the Bronx. It’s an incredible stadium, beautiful from the outside and the inside. It felt so warm and inviting and easy to navigate, and you can see so much sky – it doesn’t feel claustrophobic like some other stadiums. I love baseball, it’s my favourite sport now. I love watching lads throwing balls real fast. The Yankees absolutely flattened the Marlins. I’d like to go back and see another game. It’s the best sporting experience I’ve ever had.

2. Music venue

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, California

Pioneertown was built in the 1940s as a shooting location for westerns. We played there last month at an amazing music venue called Pappy and Harriet’s to about 250 people who had all travelled hours to get there because it’s smack-bang in the middle of the desert. The vibes were absolutely immaculate. Everyone was invested in American country and western culture but loving the campness of being in this make-believe village. Lucinda Williams was there the week before and Paul McCartney has played a number of times. It’s the best place in the world and people are obsessed with it.

3. Restaurant

Chez Janou, Paris

I’ve eaten there every time I’ve gone to Paris. It’s just the most insane place. You can go in at midnight with eight people who’ve just finished a show – which is how I came across it in the first place – and they don’t bat an eyelid. It’s bustling and gorgeous and the people who work there have big personalities. The food is amazing too: one of my favourite dishes is tuna steak on a bed of braised fennel. For dessert, the chocolate mousse is basically unlimited and served from a massive bowl. Ten out of 10.

4. Novel

Liarmouth by John Waters

This is a wonderful book. I’m a huge John Waters fan – he is the most singular artist of our time. I don’t know anyone who does anything even close to what he does. This is the first book he’s written and it’s not possible to summarise. The only thing I can say is that the protagonist is a woman who lies compulsively and her lies get her into a lot of trouble. And there’s a talking penis. It’s a masterpiece. You can almost hear him laughing to himself as he’s writing it, because some of the things are so fucking stupid, and yet it’s beautiful and joyous.

5. YouTube video

Leonard Cohen at Austin City Limits in 1988

Leonard Cohen has taken over my life recently. I didn’t listen to a single note of his music until about a year and a half ago. One day I was Googling him and the first thing I landed on was First We Take Manhattan, and I was just like, this is the best song that’s ever been made – a sexy, funny, electropop banger about the nature of terrorism. I was hooked. A couple of weeks ago I found this live performance and I’ve watched it probably 20 times. It’s the best lyric-writing: dense and literary but also fun and accessible.

6. Pub

Brady’s, Dunboyne, County Meath, Ireland

Brady’s is the centre of the universe as far as I’m concerned. It’s been a factor in my life since I was a child, eating Taytos and drinking Fanta in the corner. It’s a traditional long-hall Irish pub in the centre of the village, with framed GAA [Gaelic Athletic Association] posters everywhere. There are four sections connected by a long bar. The first is where the music sessions usually are. I sit at the back with my family where it’s a bit more craic. I’ve never had a better pint of Guinness anywhere else. And it has not changed since the 1980s. It continues to be perfect.