Heart Shaped is the name of Kendall Bousquet, a Texas native in Belfast. She released her debut EP Second Hand in December and it’s been making waves. A poppy and fuzzy slice of indie that takes the DIY ethos to heart from its formation in households and spare rooms in Belfast and Derry to its now sold out run of cassettes. These songs have found their way to plays on KEXP across the water, BBC Across the Line closer to home and front page Bandcamp features, deserved endorsement of a release that won’t have been on many people’s radar a few months ago. Lead track ‘Sometimes’ captures the mood in a pitch perfect three minutes of power pop with guitars that are equal parts jangly and fuzzy, harmonies and vocals that just seem to reverberate, both musically and emotionally. Tracks like ‘Handsome’ and ‘Dizzy’ follow in the same, endearing vein.
Heart Shaped’s regular radio show on The 343 shows her range of musical tastes so we thought we’d get her thoughts on the influences behind her debut EP.
Teenage Fanclub – Alcoholiday
“There are things I want to do, but I don’t know if they will be with you” is one of my favorite and saddest opening lines in a song ever, just perfect. Teenage Fanclub is a huge reference point for me and kind of the north star I kept coming back to for what I wanted my sound on the Second Hand EP to emulate.
Talulah Gosh – I Can’t Get No Satisfaction (Thank God)
The first time I joined a band in high school my bandmates and I made each other mix CDs of what we wanted to sound like and this was on mine. A decade later it’s very much also on the Heart Shaped inspiration mixtape. I heard Talulah Gosh for the first time when I was fourteen and they were the entry point for so much of the music that I love now. Their songs are so poppy and accessible but with a darkly funny streak. I think a running theme of a lot of the music I love is being able to convey like misery or ennui or melodrama that has a kind of winking sense of humor about itself. It’s the same reason why country music and Morrissey are good.
Tiger Trap – You & Me
The combined projects of Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap, The Softies, Gaze, and Go Sailor especially) have had more of an impact on my sensibilities as a songwriter than probably anything else. I know that because it’s always immediately apparent to people who are into those bands as soon as they hear Heart Shaped. Like, “You really mainlined the But I’m A Cheerleader… soundtrack at an impressionable age huh?”
Thin Lizzy – Didn’t I
I play a Thin Lizzy Deep Cut of the Week on every episode of my show on The 343 Radio and for the record, this is my favorite Thin Lizzy song of all time. The yearning ballads section of their discography is severely underrated in relation to the Straight Up Shredding tunes. This one is a bit of both.
Alton Ellis – My Willow Tree
I’ve been listening to a lot of lovers rock and Alton Ellis was one of the big predecessors to that whole scene. My EP’s title track “Second Hand” is heavily influenced by this song’s chord progression. I love that it’s about finding love and saying goodbye to heartbreak and it still manages to sound so goddamn heartbroken.
Marine Girls – Honey
Marine Girls was Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl’s band when she was in school. There’s this short essay by her that gets me all choked up that I guess I came across when I really needed it. They didn’t have a drummer because they couldn’t find a girl who could play drums and they had trouble singing in tune with each other and they were teenagers playing quiet, thoughtful songs about boys to rooms full of dudes at Serious Rock Gigs. She writes about how they were trying really, really hard to sound “good” and it still always came out rough around the edges. To me their music is a reassuring reminder that things that feel honest and therefore human and therefore true always stick the landing.
K. Campbell – Every Little Thing
Second Hand was released on Poison Moon Records, a label run by my two good friends Kirke Campbell and Mandy Clinton who are both amazing artists in their own right and started out by self-releasing their own stuff. K. Campbell has been putting out 7-inches a couple of times a year that simply do not miss. He sounds like if Elliott Smith went full power-pop.
Kirsty MacColl – A New England
I love this song because it’s what got me into both Kirsty MacColl and Billy Bragg, talk about a two-for-one. I like the Kirsty version because “I put you on a pedestal, you put me on the pill” is the all-time great line. The guitar harmonies on my song “In My Dreams” were at attempt at sounding as busy and sparkling as this.
Selena – Fotos y Recuerdos
Selena doing a cumbia take on the Pretenders, truly a confluence of my interests. I feel like being from Texas, it’s hard to overstate the influence that she has had on the pop landscape there for people of all backgrounds. That fact that Solange and Kacey Musgraves have both covered her makes such natural, intuitive sense to me because if you’re from Texas that’s just your culture.
Yungstar (ft. C-Nile & Solo D) – Knocking Pictures Off Da Wall
Yungstar rapping over a bubblegum pop take on the most famous DJ Screw track, this song is undeniable. I’m from Houston, Texas. Houston hip-hop is massively, globally influential but DIY to its core. So I say I got my DIY ethos from growing up going to punk shows but the only radio stations anyone ever listened to were the university station KTRU and whatever the in-favor hip-hop station was because they were going to be the ones playing local, up-and-coming artists doing more interesting stuff than anybody out there. Houston rapper B L A C K I E is the best noise artist in the world and I’ll stand on Death Grips’ coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that. I met my friend and golden boy of Houston hip hop Fat Tony way back when we were kids going to punk shows. I feel immensely lucky to have grown up around such an eclectic independent scene and it’s a gift to not feel precious about only drawing inspiration from the genre you’re assigned to.