10 Years On - Heather Thompson / The Sensors

10 Years On - Heather Thompson / The Sensors

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.

Heather Thompson performed with her band The Sensors on October 27th, 2006. I tracked down Heather for a catch up -

Stephen - You were one of the first artists to perform on BalconyTV. What, if anything do you remember about the performance?

Heather - Doing three takes because first an ambulance went by and then a very noisy truck. Also, trying to remember to make eye contact with the camera.

Stephen - What was the song about?

Heather - Feeling trapped in the city, wishing I could put my feet into the dirt, and struggling against lethargy and depression.

Stephen - How long had you been playing before that point?

Heather - Oh man. Well personally I started playing guitar at 15, maybe 8 years before, but I think the band had been together two years at that point?

Stephen - What were your ambitions then, compared to what they are now?

Heather - Back then I wanted to be a rock star, a full-time musician; popular enough to be respected by my heroes but not so famous that it interfered with life. Crazy specific, huh? Nowadays I'm an artist and I couldn't give a shit about fame; I create because I have to, it's a compulsion.

Stephen - Are you still performing now? if not what do you do now?

Heather - Off and on. The band finished in 2007 because of physical injuries and I started studying journalism full-time at university, which I rather threw myself into. After that I took up tribal bellydancing, but I'm only onstage a handful of times a year, usually performing with Ledbelly. Mostly I paint. My first solo exhibition will be at the Bernard Shaw from June 23rd. ( https://www.facebook.com/events/1013538062094044/ ) I find drawing to be the form of expression where I can most get into "the zone". Barry Quinn, the guitarist in the Sensors and my co-BalconyTV-er, is also quite an accomplished artist and I am proud to own his book and one of his paintings. You can see them here - https://www.facebook.com/barryquinnart/

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?

Heather - It's absolutely amazing. As a consumer, I am exposed to new music (and undiscovered old music) at a much quicker pace than ever before. And as an artist, I can show my creative process and expose my art to a much wider audience than without the internet. The tools of the online world are much more sophisticated now -- I remember spending hours on MySpace 10 years ago, adding "friends" who I thought would be useful. Now we have hashtags and sharing sites like Tumblr so that people who are genuinely interested in your creations can organically come to you.

Stephen - What do you make of the Irish music scene?

Heather - Well it's a hell of a lot better now than it was 10 years ago. The acoustic folk scene of Kitt and Casey was absolute death. The Irish music scene is way more vibrant these days and it makes me happy -- Le Galaxie, White Collar Boy, Girl Band, Enemies, etc.

Stephen - If you could give the you of 10 years ago advice, 10 years on, what would it be?

Heather - Less Strokes and Libertines. Much, MUCH more Suicide and Einsturzende Neubauten. Buy a drum machine. Stop worrying about whether other people will like your songs or not. Jamming is not just for stoner bands and would do you a world of good.

Stephen - What has been the best thing to happen to you in music and life in the last 10 years?

Heather - Changing my personal situation hugely and growing in confidence as an artist, no matter the form, whether it's musical, or performance art or drawing. Finding my voice. "She's been everybody else's girl; maybe someday she'll be her own" - Tori Amos

Stephen - What is the one song of yours your most proud of that people should check out?

Heather - I'm very proud of the lyrics to 'The Soldiers', a song I did locked in my room for hours and hours with a guitar and a violin that I didn't know how to play. The vocals are the best I've ever done, too, very different scale structure than anything I'd done before.

Stephen - Who has been your favorite Irish artist of the last 10 years, and your favorite international or mainstream artist?

Heather - I love Le Galaxie. They are world-class and there's nothing like ending the night with a bit of Jurassic Park.

Heather - Internationally, as far as artists who have emerged in the last ten years, I can't get enough of Moderat, the Black Angels, Iamamiwhoami, Jamie XX, the Knife, Son Lux, St Vincent...sorry I know you asked for only one but that's seriously impossible :)

Stephen - Final question. What would your words of wisdom be for anyone starting out? Be as brutal as you like.

Heather - Don't do ANYTHING just because you think it will please the audience. Never forget that as a musician, you are an artist, just like a sculptor or a novelist or a dancer. The important thing is to have fun.

Stephen - Thanks Heather!


- Stephen O'Regan