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Hard Working Class Heroes 2018: Spotlight — Bad Bones

Now in its 16th year, Hard Working Class Heroes (HWCH) is still a great place to discover fresh Irish talent and see a plethora of performances around the city for a really good price. On Friday night, The Circular went to Tramline to check out the line-up and chat with closing act, electronic music producer and visual artist, Sal Stapleton aka Bad Bones.

Emerging on stage in a plume of smoke and flanked by two masked dancers, Stapleton played her set while encased in an illuminated “claw cage” — which for her has been a vision realized.

Assembling the "claw cage"
Assembling the “claw cage”

     “Its amazing to get to play all these places — you totally get a buzz off it.”

Appearing at the festival last year at The Grand Social, she played just before Irish electro-pop duo Le Boom, who have since gone on to perform internationally. Last year she also released the single You, and the connections she made at HWCH have been very helpful with its promotion.

“It’s an interesting sorta festival because it’s industry based, so like a lot of people come over from the UK and they bring people over from Airwaves festival in Iceland and SXSW and stuff like that. So, it’s kinda for artists and musicians to link up with these people — the industry people. And hopefully they’ll help them in their careers.”

No stranger to gigging, Stapleton started playing drums in her early teenage years and essentially “grew up in a DIY punk scene.”

“I kinda got into electronic music I’d say about six years ago. I started getting really interested in sequencers and drum machines and stuff like that. So I taught myself how to program drums and beats and record music, and I eventually started using Ableton to produce music and that was kinda a game changer. That kinda changed my sound totally — being able to manipulate sound the way I wanted to.”


She released her first single Beg just over two years ago and has been performing as Bad Bones ever since. In that time she’s become well acquainted with the festival circuit playing everywhere from Electric Picnic, to Other Voices and Body and Soul. Taking it all in stride, she is reserved and calm saving her energy for the stage where she immerses herself in the moment.

“Its amazing to get to play all these places — you totally get a buzz off it, but I almost kind of zone out and I hardly remember any performance I’ve ever done — which is kind of weird. But I’ve talked to other artists and musicians and the same thing happens to them. It’s like they go to a different persona and then they come back… It’s really strange, but that’s always just been the way for me.”

The combination of Stapleton’s distorted vocals, electronic beats and audio/visual effects are unique unto her and lack comparison. It’s only a matter of time before she catches the eyes and ears of a larger audience. And that is the essence of HWCH —  an opportunity to witness artist development as they hone their style and prepare for bigger stages here and abroad.

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