Behind the music – Bonneer

Meath singer-songwriter Bonneer (Blathin O’Connor) has released her debut single, Strangers. We asked her the BIG questions . . .

She discovered her love for music at the age of four when her mother started teaching her classical piano and was also taught violin by her late father.

The 38-year-old grew up in a home where music was a big part of her day-to-day. She remembers her parents listening to the likes of Brahms’ German Requiem in the kitchen, while anything from John Martyn to The Bangles would be blaring from her brother’s room at the opposite end of the house.

She began singing as the lead soloist in a local youth choir directed by the late Sir Colin Mawby, founder of the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir.

In May 2018 her best friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was given just five months to live. This was the catalyst to Bonneer’s creative explosion. Wanting to let her friend know how dear she was to her, she composed a piece of piano music in her honour, which was played on the day of the funeral.

Speaking about Strangers, she says, “I suppose it’s about what life can do to you. How those you allow close to you will often disappoint you. How the ups and downs can shape you and often change you as a person; for better or worse.

“There’s a dance track I listened to a lot when I was younger, called Clubbed to Death by Rob Dougan. When I listen to Strangers, I can definitely hear some similarities, so I think subconsciously that might have had a bit of an inspirational influence here.”

Tell us three things about yourself?

My favourite colour is green. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones. I have three kidneys.

How would you describe your music?

This is such a hard question to answer, but here goes: I would describe it as… classically ‘balladistic’ songwriting with a syncopated edge (think I just made up a word). I love a huge range of music, from the blues to classical, to dance, so my music has many influences. I’m really interested in rhythm and harmony and finding new ways of combining them.

Who are your musical inspirations?

I first heard Dummy by Portishead when I was 10 years old, and I remember being so blown away by Beth Gibbons’ voice and just their overall sound. And that’s actually when I first started thinking about songwriting. But my big love is classical music. It can be so emotive; no other music moves me in the way it does. It can literally make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I love that feeling. So, I try to write music that does that too. I was also big into dance music once upon a time, and I think you can particularly hear that in my new song, Strangers.

What was the first gig you ever went to?

Homelands, in Mosney. Great fun, great day!

What was the first record you ever bought?

I think it was a dance album called Gatecrasher. I was about 13. I remember listening to it on loop. Drove the house mad.

What’s your favourite song right now?

It’s more a piece of music as opposed to a ‘song’. But it would have to be the opening movement from Patrick Cassidy’s The Children of Lir. The whole album is incredible but that piece in particular speaks to me for some reason. I could listen to it over and over. So gorgeous!

Favourite lyric of all time?

‘Did you realise no one can see inside your view?’ – Strangers by Portishead.

If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Another tough one, but off the top of my head I’m going to say Nantes by Beirut.

Where can people find your music/more information?

My debut single Strangers is available on all major platforms and there’s a little bio up on my website if anyone wants to have a read. For those who might be interested in my social media, it’s @bonneermusic on both Instagram and Facebook, @therealbonneer on Twitter and my YouTube channel.