Interviews

Veröffentlicht am 29.05.2019 | von Sarah Tobias

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DERMOT KENNEDY – Interview

Wir haben ihn Anfang des Jahres schon im Rahmen unserer Band To Watch-Reihe präsentiert, weil wir wußten, dass er etwas Magisches kreieren wird. Dermot Kennedys Album ist seit Januar als Zusammenstellung aller bisher veröffentlichten Songs via Streaming erhältlich und er tourt gerade durch die ganze Welt. Wenn man seine Songs hört, achtet man nicht auf die Instrumente, die einem Song eine Basis geben, sondern auf seine Stimme, die sein Instrument ist. Jedes Mal wenn dieser Mann mit seiner kraftvollen und trotzdem gefühlvollen Stimme singt, erfüllt er den kompletten Raum mit einer emotionalen Energie und einer explosiven Wirkung, die einem Gänsehaut bereitet. Songs, die sich nicht nur um ein Thema, wie Liebe oder Trauer, handeln, sondern diese Gegensätze kombinieren. Dieses Spiel von Liebe und Verlust, Glück und Leid, Licht und Schatten, Euphorie und Trauer kann man auch in den Songs von seinem Debütalbum deutlich hören und fühlen.

Hi Dermot, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Congrats to your first album! You listed as one of the best newcomer artists 2019 and are celebrated as the ‘great, brave, new voice’? How does that feel?
Wow, it’s great to hear. Especially considering that what’s out there now isn’t even an album to me. It is a collection of songs that already existed. So the first album hasn’t even come out yet, that’s what I’m working on. I’ve been really lucky, that my fan base is built completely of people, who just love the music and I don’t have to do anything else. I get to do just music and that’s enough. That’s just great.

That’s all what you want besides football I heard (laughing).
Well yeah, that is the next thing I am going for. Just kidding. I was never good enough for a career, but I loved it. I spent all my time thinking about music, obviously, and with football I had a few hours a week, where my head was just clear. It’s like meditation.

I mean your debut was basically a rocket launch. You released your first song collection, are right now on your debut tour and millions of people know your name and songs. Do you have to pinch yourself to realize that all of this is happening? And do you feel pressured after already having such a success at the beginning of your debut?
I guess, but I would say, it is encouraging to have any level of success so far. I keep doing on what I do. It all ties into the fact, that everything has happened so far just based on the songs. As long as I keep doing that and I am comfortable I can currently, then it will be ok. Let’s say tonight for example, it’s 4000 people coming to the concert. You’ll always have that, above anything, above sales or fame or whatever might be. It is always going to be the most important thing to sing songs and if they show up it is good. So as long as I have that, I’m good. I don’t feel pressured, but I do pinch myself a bit. But it is also such a journey that takes so long. As the artist you see every single step. So someone, who heard my music a few weeks ago, bought a ticket for tonight and he thinks ‘Whoa, this guy is selling 4000 tickets and I’ve never heard of him before’. Whereas we played here in Germany two years ago for 200 people. So it really is a journey. And even to do it the first time for a few hundred is cool. That’s surprising to me. I see every step and it’s not like an instant kind of moment of being blown away by. But yeah, on this tour I’ve been a bit blown away, because it is pretty big.

You’ve been a street musician back then in Ireland. How did this step happen from being a street musician to being called the new voice 2019? Was there a special happening, moment, person involved?
There was, but it wasn’t necessary got to do with playing on the street. When I was playing on the street it was never what I wanted to do or wanting to continue doing that. This sounds awful, but it was just to make enough money going to the studio and it saved me from getting a normal job. So it left all my time free to focus on writing and everything else I needed to do for a music career. That’s why I did it. For me, the moment was on Spotify when it took off a bit. That’s what it meant, that I could sign a record deal to put on shows by myself, fund all that stuff by myself and take it really far by myself. So at that point, when I signed a deal, I was already at a certain point.

Did it teach you anything being a street musician, that you can use now in your music career? And if yes, what is it?
The main thing is, that it taught me to not care what people think. Not in a bad way, but just in a way, that when you sing and people like it, it’s great, but if they don’t that is also fine. If you play for three hours on the street, there is probably a couple of thousands people, who don’t care. So that is a good way to build up. You’re playing either way, whereas they stop or they don’t stop. It also helped me figuring out how to be loud. I think I wrote songs that are loud now, because of that. I spent so much time in the street tried to be heard.

What feeds your creativity? Is there a special place or a time, when it’s the most inspirational for you to write songs?
Yeah, it’s funny when you are touring all the time, cause you don’t really necessary live a normal life. Like today for example. I’m in here, at the concert location, for the whole day, in rooms, which are not the most inspiring thing. You’ve got to constantly feed that side of your brain and if you got time go to museums, go to the cinema and read to keep that creative side of your brain taking on. That’s hugely important. And of course, there are certain things that have happened in my life and these are always things I use for songs. Just beside that you tour a lot and don’t live a normal life, there will be still life events that make you want to write songs. But on a really practical level, the best thing you can keep immersing yourself is art, somehow. When you get the chance.

Some of your songs are already well known, some a bit less and as you said, it is a collection of songs. Was there a criteria to decide on which songs to add to the album?
I put them in that order completely on purpose, that’s how I wanted it. I don’t view it as an album at all. On Spotify, Apple and all of those things I could just kind of see they got more popular and that’s how it went all together.

When you write your songs how do you start usually? Are you a person, who writes on paper, are you using a laptop or do you record things?
No, I write. Sometimes I forget a notebook and I have to do it on my phone. I don’t like that. I remember being on a session in LA and the guys I was with literally couldn’t believe I had a book and a pen, because they write everything on their phones. Apparently, it is old school. That was surprising for me. It’s never one set way, that I kind of write songs. Sometimes it will be a lyric, that shows up first and I write the song. Sometimes you can literally write a poem and put that to music. And sometimes you’ll be in the studio with a certain musical idea, that will inspire you and you just want to write to that. I quite like that last way, when it is with the music first, because if you get a feeling and if the music you are working with can sort of show you certain colors and show you certain moments and things like that, it gets easier. All ideas work.

You studied for some terms classic music. Is this influencing your music in any kind of way?
I don’t think the music did, but I think I was influenced just by being around such high level musicians and it was college too. I always knew I wanted to do this. So I wasn’t very good as a student. I stupidly thought I was wasting time on a music career by being in college. The genre isn’t relevant, but in that instance if you’re studying, it’s just a privilege to be around really top class musicians. If I could, I would go back to it and really go for it.

You worked with Mike Dean and something special came out of it. Is there any other artist you would like to collaborate with? And if yes, who is it and why?
J. Cole! He is the dream. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he will.

Well, maybe. Never say never. And now you officially told us about your secret wish.
It would be the dream. I think he is great, because I am so inspired by Hip Hop. Hip Hop is this weird genre, where people don’t care about lyrics and people that are all about money and weirdness. J. Cole seems to be this very conscious and intelligent guy. So, I would love to do that.

Let’s see what happens. So, your name is Irish and has the meaning of a „free man“. Do you still feel free when you are writing and playing your songs or do you feel forced in any way by the music industry?
Yeah, it would be a lie to say, I just get to do whatever I want. It is always a balance between trying to be the best artist you can be and also trying to make progress within the music industry. It is this weird battle. I am lucky in a sense, that I never ever feel bored playing the songs, ever, which is great and the most important thing for me. What it means is, whatever I wrote them about, I can still go to those memories and I can still imagine what it was like at that certain moment in my life. Cause if I’ve written stuff that would actually not mean anything to me, I couldn’t be on the stage. So when you are on a gig 300, the song is dead. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen. So, I am always connecting it to certain moments in my life. Even if there is a day you feel crap, you can close your eyes and imagine that moment and it will give you something.

When I think about the industry, I feel really free creatively. It is a funny one. The stage I am at, especially just after having a few songs, took me to a certain level. Obviously it would be stupid to bring out an eight minutes song, that was just total for myself. You have to make certain decisions, but you always have to do it on your own way and make sure it is good. I enjoy going back and forth with my songs.

What do you feel when you listen to your own songs?
I never listen to my own songs. When I have to listen to mixes, it’s weird. I would never go on Spotify and do it, ever.

The contrast between nature and urban shines through your songs. They are soulful, emotional, rustic pieces underlined with electronic elements and contemporary beats. Are you connecting your roots of Ireland with something else or how did that come to life?
I guess the most rustic side of things come from where I’m from, the Irish part. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, which was beside the forest in nature. That was always my environment. When I wrote songs first, it was very much guitar and vocal and it was this singer- songwriter thing. And then, the more urban side of stuff and production showed up a few years ago. It was when I was in London working with someone called Carey Willetts. We were just putting stuff together and we had this song, that was a guitar song and more of an acoustic thing. He put this really heavy intense Hip Hop beat on it and it just felt awesome. But don’t get me wrong, that wasn’t the first ‘Oh, I think, I might like this’ moment. I’ve been listening to Hip Hop for years, but I was just almost like an outsider, thinking that this is great, but I am very different to that. Whereas at that moment, we thought we can mix both these things. You can always take production elements and put it in and still be a singer-songwriter. But, I always try to remind myself to be a songwriter and where I am from and that is why I write songs like that. It was fun to start that kind of production.

How often do you go back to your hometown Rathcoole? What does it mean to you?
I think it is really important to ground yourself. I’ve been there a bit lately, which is great, but not much in the last two years, at all. I think it is hugely important, because you can loose running yourself really fast. I am really lucky with the friends and family I’ve got. They always kind of let you know, if you are being stupid, to bring you down to earth. I’ve got friends, when we meet, we don’t talk about anything, we just talk about bullshit.

I’ve read that you once said, that you think that NY is the most exciting place in the world at the moment. Why do you think so? Would you like to move there at some point?
I was there for a few months, I got to live there for a bit to put the album together. I like to move there, but it’s funny, because it is the total opposite to where I grew up. There is something about NY. There is a collective attitude. You know, when you are in LA and there are millions of people, but no one is really on the same page. There is no real connection. And with NY, it is a feeling that is shared among the city, an excitement and a vibrancy that exists within the city. I think it is really beautiful.

And last but not least. What kind of music are you listening to lately?
I always balance Hip Hop and singer-songwriter music. What I’ve been listening to lately is a band called Matthew and the Atlas from England. There are super folk and lovely. And then, I am always listening to Meek Mill. I think he is awesome. Then Drake and J. Cole. I’m always kind of aware, what these guys are doing.


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