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Tune-In Tuesdays #14: Keying into KEEF

By: burgundy bug

KEEF with his guitar in his home studio

Source: KEEF

KEEF is an indie musician based in the Northwest United Kingdom (UK), an area with a rich musical background, serving as the origins for bands such as The Beatles and The Smiths, as well.

With just a few days until his debut single, Only Human, KEEF and I spoke over the phone to discuss the track as well as his personal history with music.

Only Human trailer

Source: KEEF – Only Human (Out April 22nd) | KEEF

How long have you been making music for?

I’ve been making music since I was about 17 or 18-years old.

I started with playing the guitar. Being a guitarist, I was really into recording riffs and instrumentals at home with whatever equipment I could get ahold of.

I discovered writing and singing a bit later on.

How did you get into music?

I first got into blues; Jimi Hendrix and stuff like that.

I’ve been artsy from a young age. I was really into drawing and painting. I just have a passion for anything creative.

The first time I ever wanted to play guitar I was on holiday at a campsite in France. This guy on the acoustic guitar was playing Creep by Radiohead. Sitting around the campfire, I could really feel the passion he was putting into it.

I really enjoy the creative side of it. Creating something from nothing, watching it evolve. Whether it’s painting or making music, it’s good to feel and express yourself.

KEEF in his home studio

Source: KEEF

On your Facebook page, you list bands like The Smiths, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Verve, and The Velvet Underground as a few of your inspirations. How did you get into their music?

The Smiths and The Beatles, they’re sorta local to me, as I live in between Liverpool and Manchester.

If you grow up in this area, all the lyrics are based around being in Northwest England. You can connect to them and relate to the songs.

My favorite bands are from Manchester, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Joy Division.

What does your process look like when you produce a song now?

A tune can come from nothing. Once I’ve got the melody or beat I’d like to use for a song, I’ll work on it, the lyrics and what not. The song evolves from there.

A melody could just come into my head while humming a song or something, or it could be a lyric first that I jot down while walking down the street.

Do you produce your music at home or in a studio?

I went to studios in the past ‘cause I’ve been in bands. Over the years, I’ve learned how to record and produce myself, so I’ve got a little studio at home now.

I’ll usually record it all at my home studio and get someone to master it at a professional studio.

How does being a solo artist differ from being in a band?

It can be quite difficult in a band. You have to consider everyone else’s time and commitment. If you’ve got a gig or things coming up, you have to arrange it among the group.

Being a solo artist, you can manage everything yourself.

KEEF producing music in his home studio

Source: KEEF

How are you feeling about your debut single, Only Human, releasing on the 22nd? Are you excited? Nervous?

I’m a bit nervous since it’s a first single and it’s a bit of a different release. I haven’t done a charity based single before, so obviously I want it to do quite well to raise a lot of money for the charity.

With every single, I think you’re a bit nervous because you don’t know whether people are gonna like it or understand it.

I wanted to do something a little different for a first single. I don’t think it will necessarily be for the upcoming album.

What inspired you to donate the proceeds to a charity?

Every time you go to Liverpool, or Manchester, you walk around the city and you see [people living on the streets]. I think there’s been an increase in homelessness in the area lately.

The UK is a growing economy and it’s pretty shocking this still happens.

You always feel guilty walking past [anyone who’s homeless], especially in the winter when it’s freezing, but you can’t help everyone. Donating the money to a charity that will use it more effectively felt like a better way to go about helping the cause.

This charity, White Chapel Charity, does a lot of really good work for the homeless. They try to understand the main cause as to why they’re on the street and give them food, clothing, a place to stay.

Using your creative ability to write a song about the issue is kind of essential to raise money and get the message out a bit more.

Sometimes, people are so busy, they just walk past and sort of forget that those on the street just want to be apart of society and connect with people, too. Even just saying hello is better than blanking them out and pretending they don’t exist.

Obviously everyone who is homeless is still a person. They still have feelings like everyone else.

What went into making Only Human? How long had you been working on it? What did you learn from the experience?

I started writing Only Human last winter. I was working on it for a few months, finishing the lyrics and changing it the structure of the song.

I learned It’s hard to know when to call it a day and say enough is enough.

I’m quite critical of my own stuff, really. As an artist, you always feel like you could improve the song.

[Only Human] is sort of different from what I normally write. It’s a charity based single, so that’s why I’m a bit apprehensive about it.

I’m aiming to release a single off the album next.

Only Human cover

Source: KEEF

Are you currently working on an album?

Yeah, I’ve got all the songs written for the album. I’m currently working on the first single off of it.

The plan is record three or four singles off the album and release [music] videos, as well.

I want to try releasing a song every month or two. I know it might be a bit difficult, but I want to get the music out there.

I’d also like to plan a tour in the future and start gigging again.

I’ll be posting updates on social media, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

On your Facebook page, you talk about your music serving as a reflection of your emotions and experiences. Do you ever find it difficult to be so raw and vulnerable in your lyrics? Has there ever been a song you were apprehensive to record or share?

I’m always a bit apprehensive about sharing music in case people don’t get it. Like I said before, you always feel like you could improve the song.

It can be hard to be so honest and direct the message, but sometimes it has to be direct so it doesn’t go straight over people’s heads.

What message do you hope listeners take away from your music?

I hope the music makes listeners question things; make them think, open their eyes, just feel something.

Whatever the song is about, whether it’s happy or sad, I want listeners to feel it.

When I first heard Radiohead, for example, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. If anyone feels like that from my music, then I’ve done my job.

KEEF playing the guitar

Source: KEEF

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burgundy bug

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The bug behind the blog… A cynical optimist, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, and main photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's got nothing on the bug. Her work embodies a wide variety of topics including: ecology, biology, neurology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. If you are interested in learning more about the bug behind the blog or working with her, please visit our contact page.

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