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.
Eamonn O'Connor performed on October 19th, 2006. I tracked down Eamonn for a chat -
Stephen - Eamonn, you were one of the first artists to perform on BalconyTV. What, if anything do you remember about the performance?
Eamonn - I remember the walk up the stairs with a couple of other acts. BalconyTV hadn't been going too long but it already seemed like every artist in the country was looking for a slot. Which became apparent with the guitar cases and band members out the door of the top floor apartment on Dame Street. Listening to other acts play. Cheering and clapping as they finished their songs. When it was my turn Pauline did a quick interview with me and I'm sure I was nervous and unsure of what to say. I played a song off an EP I'd just independently released. We had to do two takes as an ambulance flew by sirens raging during the first. I remember everyone being cool. It was a very communal special feeling of a gang of artists from different areas working together, an us against them kinda vibe. Then a week or so later there it was up on YouTube for everyone to see. It was a very big deal at the time. Not everyone had access to a decent camera or even the Internet for that matter as they do now.
Stephen - What was the song about?
Eamonn - The song was called 'Love In Vain' and I still perform it to this day. It was all written around a single line in the second verse "The things you hold tightest in your hands are the things you'll most likely lose". You can interpret this anyway you like but it came to me one night after way too many pints. I was staying in my parents house and there's a pub two hundred yards away across a field. After finishing said drinks with friends I began the short walk home in the darkness. Knowing the single key was in my pocket and no one else was home and therefore if I lost it I'd end up sleeping outside the most sensible thing was to surely take that key from my pocket and hold it as tightly as I could until I made it home. Of course I dropped it in the grass seconds later and it never was retrieved. I ended up sleeping in the shed. The song morphed of course into something more subconscious about not taking love for granted but at the same time not smothering it.
Stephen - How long had you been playing before that point?
Eamonn - I'd be playing music and writing since I was a kid. But taking it seriously as a career I guess about eight years or so.
Stephen - What were your ambitions then, compared to what they are now?
Eamonn - I'm not sure how much they've changed to be honest. I always wanted to create and release music which I've continued doing. I guess I'm a little longer in the tooth so I don't jump at gigs as easily as I would've before. The whole "exposure" thing is fine but when you're walking across a field in the rain to play a small stage at a festival for little or no money to find everybody is at a bigger tent checking out a more established act, I think I'm well past that. Maybe I was more focused on "making it" before and now more focused on making music. I think that's fair to say.
Stephen - So you're still performing now?
Eamonn - Yeah I'm a full time musician. Between cover gigs and originals with the band or solo I play at least four nights a week and then spend most of my other time writing and recording. I love it and it took me a long time to get to this point. Of course ideally I'd love to make a living purely out of original material, I think that's the holy grail for many musicians, but I do feel pretty lucky to be where I'm at now.
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?
Eamonn - With any change comes pros and cons. When I released my first album "Together We Are All Alone" as Lucky Bones in 2011 I was so desperate for a distribution deal just so people could get their hands on it if they so wanted. By 2013 when "Someone's Son" came out there was no need. Spotify would make it possible for anyone on the planet to listen if they wanted. People have their issues with the platform and I understand this, but for independent artists in my opinion its an extremely valuable tool. I've had people from all over the world mail me simply because they discovered our music over the Internet and wanted to know more. That said I think too much focus can be put on social networking and not enough on the actual music.
Stephen - What do you make of the Irish music scene?
Eamonn - I think the talent is amazing. There really is so much great music being made here. A huge drawback I think is that the supply completely out weighs the demand. In recent years we've spent more time touring in Germany then at home. Clearly Ireland is a small country with a much smaller demographic. There's so much great music out there if more people were willing to go look for it.
Stephen - If you could give the you of 10 years ago advice, 10 years on, what would it be?
Eamonn - I'd probably tell myself to spend more time playing and writing then paying attention to online networking. I'd also tell a younger me to get into home recording quicker. There is so much can be done now for a fraction of the cost of say fifteen years ago and also I'd say to stay the course. It happens overnight for one in a billion but most original musicians have to cut their teeth for years before any real momentum occurs for them.
Stephen - What has been the best thing to happen to you in music and life in the last 10 years?
Eamonn - In music - being handed a printed copy of "Together We Are All Alone" was a very special moment, something I'd worked for years to achieve. "Someone's Son" being RTE RADIO 1's "Album Of The Week" in May 2013 would be up there too. That's the kind of little pat on the back that makes you think you aren't completely deluded. In life- meeting my missus, not dying.
Stephen - What is the one song of yours your most proud of that people should check out?
Eamonn - I think they're all amazing!! I'd probably go with "Forever With Wings" from "Someone's Son". Sometimes a song gets to the places you hoped it would when it first picks you to be its deliverer. Its also an extremely personal piece so it means a lot to me.
Stephen - Who has been your favorite Irish artist of the last 10 years, and your favorite international or mainstream artist?
Eamonn - Internationally I'd say Ryan Adams, he's just so prolific. His songs seem so effortless and he can swing from Rock to Country or Folk in a heartbeat. He recently released his version of Taylor Swift's 1989, I'm not a fan of her songs but his take on them would make me take a second listen.
Eamonn - Irish - The Young Folk, We Raise Bears, Jamie McDonald (based in Spain) and Ken Burke (Germany) are all amazing artists, great writers, great melodies and all so passionate. There's so many more but these spring to mind.
Stephen - Final question. What would your words of wisdom be for anyone starting out? Be as brutal as you like.
Eamonn - I'd say something similar as to what I'd have said to myself ten years ago. Also listen to music all the time. Not just in the background but sit down and dissect songs. Write all the time and get some home studio equipment. Spend more time practicing than on Facebook. For Christ sake don't play for free!! Musicians deserve payment. Enjoy it. Ten years goes by so fucking fast, so make every gig a belter!
http://luckybonesmusic.com/- Stephen O'Regan