Set to perform alongside John Cummins, Valerie Francis, Holly Pereira, and Lime & Fancy DJs this Friday to kick off Hennessy Lost Fridays at the RHA, Bad Bones, aka Sal Stapleton, talks us through her influences, artistic vision, live show, and more.
What was it that drew you to making electronic music in the first place? Can you tell us a little bit about your influences early on?
When I realised what a drum sequencer was, I instantly wanted to use one. I’ve been playing drums since I was 12, so I could listen to the repetitive loops and samples for hours. It’s one of my favourite things to do. When I eventually added synths and vocal manipulation to the mix, the musical possibilities were really exciting to me. I love learning new things and would take a stab at anything, I guess that’s the D.I.Y punk in me still. So, what originally started out as an enjoyable project in my spare time, turned into Bad Bones.
From an early age I’ve always loved chant and choral songs. There was always great music playing in my house growing up. Every genre you can think of. I was in lots of punk bands growing up but the likes of Enigma and Sacred Spirt were some of my favourite records. I’ve always loved that fusion of electronic music and chanting.
Your expressed your love for gear before, what is that you find appealing about analogue and do you find it as easy to work with as digital instrumentation?
There’s something really nice about having a piece of hardware that makes a unique sound. Every musician has some piece of equipment they always go back to. Especially when writing music, certain pieces can evoke more from how you feel. However, I do use midi instruments a lot more these days. Being able to bring up any instrument sound in seconds and not having to bring around so much gear when playing live is really amazing!
I have an ever growing library of sounds and samples that I’ve collected over the past couple of years, but I always go back to my hardware for inspiration.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Do you find that your tracks are formed from sketches, so to speak, or do you generally have fully-formed ideas that you commit to record?
Songs can come fully formed or in bits and pieces for me. A lot of the time I will be walking or in the shower and get an idea for a hook or melody. I record it into my phone and then later I will record into Ableton and start working on it. Most of the time I start with a drum sequence and vocal take, than the rest of the instruments and sample build around that. I manipulate every sound I have and create different layers with them.
Obviously, given your background in design, aesthetic plays a large part in your music – do you find it challenging to find common ground between audio and visual mediums, or is it an organic part of your performing?
Sound and vision come hand in hand for me. As I am making a track I automatically see what its visual will look like. I can exhaust either of these practices at times. I always try and start producing audio first, than visuals will follow after I’ve tired out that part of my brain. Sometimes it’s hard to get the visual side across live as a lot of venues don’t have the projection facilities needed. That’s why I have my dancers. It’s a plus when both can be done.
Who, if anyone, in Ireland is making music that you’re enjoying at present? And, if so, what is that’s appealing to you?
Talos and Saint Sister are some of my favourites at the moment. Their voices are beautiful and the production of their music complements them so well.
How have you been developing your live show over the past year? Is there anything you’re particularly excited about showcasing in the coming months?
As a visual artist, live shows are much more appealing to me if they have a strong visual element accompanying the music. I always want my live show to feel like a performance that would feel at home in a theatre or in a basement. My dancers are free to interpret the music in anyway they feel. Their movements can change from set to set. The shows where I do have the visual projections are my favourite to perform. That way it’s a full artistic expression. The live show has developed organically over the past year and more additions will surface in the coming months.
Friday’s show will be your first of 2017, what can we expect to hear from you during your performance – have you been working on new music?
You will hear my songs from the last year and also some new material that I’ve been working on. I’m excited to share it with you.
Finally, can we expect to see Bad Bones more in 2017? Have you got plans to tour or play any festivals?
You will see a lot more of me in the coming months. Looking forward to what lies ahead.
Tickets and more information for Hennessy Lost Fridays at the RHA can be found here.