As we approach BalconyTVs 10th anniversary, I thought it would be interesting to interview some of the first artists that performed on the show and find out what has happened to them in the time since.
Declan De Barra performed in October 2006. Here is our catch up....
Stephen - Declan, you were one of the first artists to perform on BalconyTV. What, if anything do you remember about the performance?
Declan - I remember that it was fucking freezing and I was hoping I didn't fuck up the guitar too badly. I think it was one take, which was good because there is nothing worse than having to do it again when there are cameras. A weird pressure.
Stephen - What was the song about?
Declan - Well I'll leave that to the listener. But I can tell you that I wrote it walking back to Rathgar while it was snowing, I had the first line when it started to snow, and by the time I was at my gaff the snow was pissing down. I went inside, picked up the guitar and wrote the music to go with the melody in one shot. I usually have to battle it, but the best ones are always one shot for me.
Stephen - How long had you been playing before that point?
Declan - I have been singing since I was 17 or so and living in Australia. I think I was 30 or so in that vid. I picked up guitar much later when I got pissed off with bands imploding and returned to Ireland.
Stephen - What were your ambitions then, compared to what they are now?
Declan - I just wanted to make music everyday and be able to survive on it, touring and playing to new audiences as much as possible. I was lucky, I was able to do that for a very long time and it took me all over the world, even if it was a hand to mouth existence for most of the time.
Stephen - If you’re not still playing, what are you doing now?
Declan - I am no longer touring. I am living in Los angeles writing for a TV show called The Originals. I will still put out music but I doubt I will tour it.
Stephen - The internet has completely transformed music in the last 10 years. When we started out, YouTube was just starting and MySpace was the thing. How have you found dealing with the digital revolution?
Declan - All my opportunities to tour etc came from the net, but being able to survive on the road by selling cds died off and it became pretty much impossible to tour as a small indie artist and survive from the income. I think spotify has paid enough for me to buy a sandwich and maybe a drink over the years. You can still survive, but you have to tour constantly and that can become a grind eventually, forget having a relationship or a family.
Stephen - What do you make of the Irish music scene?
Declan - I love it, it was never very interested in me per se but that's fine. The best part is the camaraderie and musicianship. I got to work with so many brilliant musos who played with me on records and for shows, no egos at play. There is a definite way of thinking in Ireland, not just in music, that is conducive to creating. An acceptance of the surreal that I miss a lot.
Stephen - If you could give the you of 10 years ago advice, 10 years on, what would it be?
Declan - Invest in Tesla.
Stephen - What has been the best thing to happen to you in music and life in the last 10 years?
Declan - Touring. Playing with great musicians in different cities, sometimes in anarchist squats sometimes in 15th century theatres. You can't buy those experiences, sharing a moment with an audience, standing off stage singing without a mic and connecting with a person you will probably never meet again in your life.
Stephen - What is the one song of yours you’re most proud of that people should check out?
Declan - I like Red Forests, it was an accident that took life.
Stephen - Who has been your favorite artist of the last 10 years?
Declan - There are too many, each day you feel like listening to a different piece depending on your mood. One day it might be Jape the next Yurodny or Kíla. Right now I'm listening to Devildriver.
Stephen - Final question. What would your words of wisdom be for anyone starting out? Be as brutal as you like.
Declan - Find your own voice, fuck what your heroes sound like. Find the unique and unmistakable quality or tone that could only come from you and your experience.
Stephen - Thanks Declan!
- Stephen O'Regan