With her second single (G.O.T.Y.O.U) from her highly anticipated debut album ‘Power Out’ released only yesterday and a tour underway, we sat down with former hothouse artist, Sarah Heneghan, to talk all things solo drumming, electronics and light shows.
1.) ‘Power Out’; a ‘solo show of live drums, electronics, and lights.’ Please tell our audience more of what they can expect from what sounds like quite an exciting performance!
Sure, in a bit more detail, Power Out’s music tends to be in the experimental, nu-jazz, electronic realms. It combines improvised drumming, soundscapes, and dance music elements to create a set that is (hopefully) quite engaging and entrancing at times. Accompanying the music is a fantastic light show, partially built into the drum kit and around it, which is programmed to certain aspects of the music and creates a beautiful visual realisation of the music. I have lighting designer Will Monks to thank for that!
2.) What were your influences, musical or otherwise, when it came to creating the show and the music? Where did the idea come from?
The idea came from a colleague at the time who challenged me to write music for solo drums, as I was feeling creatively frustrated at the time. I also want to challenge my own ideas of what ‘good solo drumming’ should be, and also how to hold space as a solo drummer. We drummers so rarely play by ourselves, so I wanted to explore that. Big influences for the music and lighting definitely come from artists like Ian Chang, Fever Ray, LUMP, Sylvan Esso, and Bonobo, to name a few. Also, just memories of nights listening to techno and warehouse nights – my love for electronic beats will never die, even if my preferred bedtime clashes with the timings of warehouse nights these days.
3.) ‘Power Out’ will be touring all over the North of the UK. Are you excited to be heading back out on tour? Do you have a favourite memory from a previous show?
Definitely excited, and just so happy that I get to have these opportunities to create and share. It’s easy to forget these milestones as artists, because we can get caught up in the next big success and goal, and comparing ourselves to seemingly more successful artists. I’m trying to take stock. A favourite memory from a previous show would be at Shambala Festival, definitely. Nothing like playing in a hot sweaty tent to a group of people covered in glitter and mud, dancing like crazy.
4.) Sarah, you were one of our former hothouse artists. How did you find the experience influenced yourself as an artist? We are currently recruiting the next cohort, if you could give them one piece of advice, what would it be?
Hothouse, and the people running it, were responsible for so much encouragement and self-discovery that I needed in order to germinate my growth as a new artist. The mentorship challenged me, too, particularly with limiting self-beliefs I had at the time. As a result of hothouse, I’ve received funding twice from Arts Council England to do really exciting things I care about (check out Key of She, a music improv night I run exclusively for women & marginalised genders!). My main advice is: be really clear & realistic in your proposals. Show the panel that, basically, you’ve got a plan, and you’re going to do it with or without them, because it has to happen! I think people are drawn to someone’s excitement and confidence, so will be more likely to invest in it.
5.) And finally, thank you for your brilliant performance with Paint or Pollen at mjf2023. How did you find the experience? And what was your festival highlight?
Thank you for having us, it’s such a nice opportunity to share new projects, and I really enjoyed the gig and where we played. Perfect relaxed Sunday afternoon vibes. I’d say a highlight for me was catching Rory A. Green’s set; I really liked the Bon Iver-esque, cinematic atmosphere of his music. As a result of connecting with him, I depped for one of his gigs at Brume, and it was a gorgeous night. Definitely check him out, and the lovely musicians he works with in that project.
Catch Sarah and her show ‘Power Out’ at local Manchester venue, The Peer Hat, next month (25th October). Full tour dates can be found here. ‘Power Out’ the album will be available to listen on Spotify Music, on the 23rd November, 2023.