Key will Rock you

An­drew Ka­vanagh of Ir­ish rock­ers Key­west on the band’s stun­ning new al­bum, True North, and their unique bond with their fans. In­ter­view Or­laith Nic Aidhne

Hot Press - - Music World 4205 -

It’s been quite the week for Key­west. Their new al­bum, True North, was re­leased at the end of March, and the band are fresh off the thrill of play­ing a sold­out show at Dublin’s Olympia. In­deed, they’re still com­ing down off that buzz, de­scrib­ing it as a gig last­ing two days; a blur of cheers and sup­port from friends and fans.

The­mat­i­cally, True North fo­cuses on find­ing one’s true self amidst the noise and clam­our of mod­ern life. “It’s a mix of per­sonal re­flec­tions and our ex­pe­ri­ence as Key­west,” singer An­drew Ka­vanagh ex­plains, as he dashes across the city with his phone pressed to his ear in search of some­where quiet. “It’s our ef­forts to find where we fit in the in­dus­try. Bands have a con­stant in­ter­est in find­ing out where they’re go­ing and what they’re do­ing. You’re look­ing at other groups, see­ing the com­pe­ti­tion.”

“For us, it was find­ing out who Key­west are and where we fit. But ob­vi­ously, ev­ery­body goes through that – com­par­ing your­self to one per­son and the other, while be­ing on a path of self-dis­cov­ery. The quote we set­tled on for the al­bum over­all was find­ing your au­then­tic self amongst the noise. And that’s be­cause it’s so nec­es­sary at the mo­ment. So­cial me­dia has made ev­ery­thing very messy, cre­at­ing so much in­ter­fer­ence, from see­ing high­lights and the best mo­ments of other peo­ple’s lives. But we’re try­ing to fo­cus on how to be okay with your­self amongst all that.”

As he re­flects on the band’s tran­si­tion from buskers to bona-fide stars, Ka­vanagh has a no­tice­able zeal in his voice.

“Our own sound was cre­ated on the street,” he says. “The more we played, the more we built to­wards what we are now. The way we write songs, based on rhythm, all stemmed from our play­ing on the street. If a song wouldn’t work in that en­vi­ron­ment, it wouldn’t go on the al­bum.”

This at­ti­tude has meant that Key­west have thrived at fes­ti­vals – where peo­ple ex­pect catchy melodies with big beats. They don’t get fazed by the wild sur­round­ings.

“When we bring what we do to any stage,” says Ka­vanagh, “the trans­la­tion is huge, be­cause you’re talk­ing about a crowd that’s there for rea­son. Peo­ple are drink­ing, danc­ing, ev­ery­one’s re­laxed and hav­ing a good time. It has the feel of what we’d do on the street. It gets ev­ery­one go­ing and forms a huge con­nec­tion be­tween the au­di­ence and our­selves – which comes from busk­ing, be­cause you have to con­nect there. Bas­ing our sound around the kick drums and the acous­tic gui­tar is some­thing we’ve al­ways done too. Now we’re just a lit­tle big­ger, a lit­tle bet­ter.”

With his per­sonal favourite track on the al­bum be­ing ‘True North’ it­self – a song that deals with men­tal health – Ka­vanagh says he feels very close to the mes­sage it de­liv­ers.

“The re­ac­tion from fans for the con­cept has been phe­nom­e­nal. We’ve been get­ting mes­sages say­ing they’ve been play­ing it on re­peat. We’ve got such loyal fans, in­clud­ing some who’ve been with us since our very first show. They tend to be in it for the long haul, like us.”

When asked what plans Key­west have for the rest of the year, there’s a long sigh.

“We’re up the walls with it to be to­tally hon­est... Push on, just keep go­ing.”

True North is avail­able now, via Spo­tify, iTunes, Google 2lay and on %& at Golden &iscs.|

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