Belfast based DIY solo act Heart Shaped- AKA Kendall Bousquet releases the ‘Second Hand’ EP tomorrow. Kendall chatted to Sam from The Jumble all about the process of creating music, learning guitar as she went along, the ‘gig at the end of the universe’, and what made her fall in love with Belfast after moving there from Texas.
Okay, so to start off do you want to just introduce yourself to readers?
Yeah, so my name is Kendall Bousquet and I have a project called Heart Shaped. I guess I started it up because I just wanted to take a kind of DIY approach to making something that encapsulated what I was into and what my tastes are.
So you’re originally from Houston Texas- what made you gravitate towards Belfast?
Yeah, so I’m originally from Texas and I came over to Belfast two years ago to do a master’s at Queen’s University, and then just started working full-time shortly before I graduated. I figured that I should probably just stick around considering I liked Belfast so much.
That bleeds us nicely into the next question- how do you feel about Belfast’s creative scene?
Um, I think in Belfast and in Ireland in general it seems like a pretty exciting time to be making music.
There’s a lot of good stuff coming out and I think it’s like a special moment that people are going to look back on as being a really good time for music on the island. Especially during this kind of lock down situation-there’s been a lot more projects sort of popping up.
One of the themes of ‘Second Hand’ is dealing with unrequited love, and it has a really nostalgic sound to it, could you talk a little bit about the EP and what inspired you to make it?
I’m excited to be putting out this EP because it’s nice to just have a distillation of the stuff that I’ve been writing right after picking up the guitar. I played bass kind of on and off since I was about 14, but I actually only started playing guitar about a year ago. This meant that the songs that I wrote on the tape were kind of a learning experience. I was learning as I was writing it and I think that it’s a bit of a capsule of that point in time.
As far as themes go, you’re right – I’m interested in the topic of unrequited love and infatuation. While writing the EP I Was thinking a lot about the ways that we
Create narratives or stories about love in our own head that very much belong to us- but at the same time, those narratives are very biased to our own perspective. They’re our own at the end of the day.
Who would you say were your biggest inspirations for this EP?
I was listening to a lot of my favorite artists while I was writing it… bands like The Softies and Orange Juice. They’re both huge points of reference and I think you can hear that in the music.
I know what probably feels like it’s an unavoidable question but how has this year been for you?
It was interesting because I played my first show as Heart Shaped on March 13th- at the single launch for Sister Ghost’s song ‘Bruised Fruit’ so it was literally like just before everything went crazy. It feels like I sort of said goodbye with that show too. Like ‘ I’ll see you when this is over…. Whenever that is…’.
“You know, we have jokingly referred to it as the gig at the end of the universe- that’s kind of what it felt like for us at the time.”
I knew I wanted to do an EP- but the way things turned out means that I’m releasing it a little bit later than I intended.
I think all the time alone gave me an opportunity to write more songs and get better at guitar -when the first lock down started I couldn’t even play bar chords. So I spent a lot of time on the couch aspirationally working to get better. Writing songs that I couldn’t really play yet- I had to learn as I went along.
Are there any other local artists that you’ve been loving at the minute?
I loved Pillow Queen’s last album- I’ve been listening to Gemma Dunleavy’s latest tape a lot too, as well as Buí from Belfast, and His Father’s Voice from Limerick. There’s just so many amazing things happening on this island right now.
Where and when can people check out the EP?
I do a radio show on the 343 radio on Thursday nights from eight to ten- so tonight, December 3rd I’ll be hosting a listening party for the EP if anyone wants to check that out: http://www.the343radio.com/listen. The EP will be fully released on December 4th.
You can keep up to date with Kendall and Heart Shaped on Instagram and listen to more music on Spotify.
Interview by Sam Dineen