❉ Getting to know rising indie star, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Keir.
Earlier this month, We Are Cult shared Bristol-based solo artist Keir’s recently-released new single Blood In The Water, and its striking video by analogue video artist Harry Steel. This is a teaser for Keir’s as-yet untitled debut album due early 2023 – sure to be Keir’s big breakthrough year – and the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has already been championed by BBC Introducing as “an artist who changes everything”.
Keir’s music defies lazy pigeonholing, and the singularly-monickered artist has claimed as musical inspirations genre-bending enigmas such as David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and Prince as well as the millennial pop of his childhood years – all human life is here.
When writer, publicist and friend of the site Jane Savidge – author of Lunch with the Wild Frontiers and Here They Come With Their Make-Up On – excitedly told We Are Cult of this rising indie star we immediately recognised Keir as a creative spirit whose ethos is a perfect match with our self-proclaimed focus on ‘all things wayward, leftfield and independently-minded’, so an opportunity to find out about all things Keir and revive our ‘Cult Q & A’ spotlight feature was a no-brainer. So, “without further ado”, as they say on YouTube, here is Keir…
You’ve recently released your single ‘Blood In The Water’. Can you tell us about how the single came about?
Essentially I had fallen in love properly for the first time. But it wasn’t to be. During lockdown I sussed something was changing and they were heading back home to Prague. The problem was… How can you survive heartbreak?
After it had all been realised and I had come to terms with the world ending, stopped eating, started eating, stopped sleeping, started sleeping, finally I wrote this song. It’s very simple really. Pain is something that you can’t imagine has an ending. But also the torment is not something to be wasted! I loved her. In some way. I needed to write to be able to understand the present.
All in all I love the song. It’s sad but somehow defiant. I feel power in it. It’s very emotional and really does take me back to the time.
I remember writing it with George at my parents place in Corsham. George’s girlfriend had arrived at the end of the day to head back to Bristol, so Amber, my mum and dad (and George and I) all listened to what we’d made. I burst into tears and felt embarrassed. I don’t feel embarrassed now though. I think it’s really good.
So how did your life in music begin and what inspired you to make a career out of it?
I don’t think it ever really began; I didn’t really choose it, I just couldn’t do anything else. I worked as a support worker for people with autism for about six years but it was always so obviously music music music that was in my head. Even when I was doing that. From really young I got obsessed with writing, I never wanted to be doing covers. I remember my mum bought me this white electric guitar and I would spend hours trying to figure it out. How can I make a song?! I’m still figuring that out now I think. Songs songs songs I’m just obsessed with the creativity. So I guess the things that inspired me were: Avril Lavigne, my brothers, Jimi Hendrix, shitty school subjects, boredom, my mum and dad, the white guitar that I couldn’t play, S Club 7, Bowie.
What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
To be able to play the songs with my brother (drums) and to be able to write about real life things but mythologise them into secret worlds within a song. A friendship is just a friendship in real life, but a friendship inside a song is an untapped world for the listener to dream about. For me its also satisfying to have completed any song, there is so much self-loathing as part of the process so when a song is mixed mastered and ready to go its nothing short of a miracle.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career, and how has that person changed your life?
My mum and dad, they don’t laugh at me for creating. When really it is quite a funny thing to be doing with your time. But it’s very important to have those people around you that say you are good, you are doing good. They changed my life because they made it possible to dream and keep making things, in addition I do think they would tell me if they thought what I was making was shit.
Who were your heroes growing up?
Bowie, Avril Lavigne, Prince, Aretha, Little Richard, Patti Smith, Amy Winehouse, Enrique, Busted, Joy Division. I loved pop but found stuff with a bit more… integrity shall we say, afterwards. I love all the enigmas.
Which other singers, musicians, or producers have inspired you over the years?
To be honest anyone that is a little more difficult to pinpoint I love. Anyone who defies description. I’ve been obsessed with Bowie for the longest amount of time because he does exactly that and more. I also love theatre in music. A little Shirley Bassey. I enjoy artists like Patti Smith, Nick Cave, D’Angelo.
Do you think it’s true that you should never meet your heroes?
I don’t think it matters really. Mystique is important for the human spirit I reckon. Like you may create an idea of an artist/enigma that you love and aspire to live a little like, so meeting them might completely tear all those beautiful notions up. The imagination is what really makes a pop star or hero, the last thing we want to know is that they are mortal. So I don’t know really – I guess I’m torn. I also have this vague annoyance with the idea of fame, even though I have heroes of my own. I think if I could have had the chance to meet Bowie that’d be nice, I’d say something like “Hey”.
What’s the best bit of advice anyone has given you?
It’s not advice but it’s something Patti Smith said: “No one expected me, everything awaited me.”
What are your best and worst qualities?
Worst: Self Loathing
What was the last film that you watched?
What film could you watch every day?
Daisies (Sedimikrasky) 1966 – Vera Chytilova
Which film, book or record last disappointed you the most?
Nothing is that disappointing to me, if something’s been made then that’s cool, even if I don’t feel it a million percent.
Which record would you recommend and lend to a friend?
Scott Walker – ‘Scott 3’
Which record wouldn’t you let out of your sight?
I have an old old old Edith Piaf one that I love so much.
Which book would you save if your house was on fire?
Tender Buttons – Gertrude Stein
What’s your definition of what makes something cult?
If its subversive and secret from the general public… for now.
What are you reading at present?
Kathy Acker – Blood And Guts In High School.
We are at a bar, what are you drinking?
Red wine and a Fanta.
What are your three favourite cities?
Bristol, Berlin, Paris.
What do you do to chill out?
I play a lot of tennis.
What would you like to be your epitaph?
I wouldn’t like anything really, an unmarked grave, a nice tree, sprinkle me in the sea.
Do you have any other upcoming projects aside from the debut album that you would like your readers to know?
Not really no, I would like to put out a book at some point but let’s get the album done first i think.
How can our readers discover more about you and your work?
I am Keirsalad everywhere.
Thank you for your time!
Keir will be announcing UK live dates before the end of the year. Keir’s debut album will be released mid-2023.
❉ ‘Blood In The Water’ is out now through Vertigo/Universal: https://umg.lnk.tt/BloodInTheWater
❉ Jay Gent (he/she/they) is the editor and owner of We Are Cult, a freelance graphic designer and digital marketing and social media assistant, and a theatre critic for Wales Arts Review. Jay is a featured writer in the publications Shooty Dog Thing: Doctor Who Fans Writing On The Wall (2010), You & Who: Contact Has Been Made, Volume One (2013), Blake’s Heaven: Maximum Fan-Power (2015), 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die (2016), You and 42: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Douglas Adams (2018) and Scarred For Life Volume Two: Television in the 1980s (2021). In 2019, Jay Gent co-edited and designed Me and the Starman: Remembering David Bowie (Chinbeard/Cult Ink, 2019), a non-profit charity anthology raising funds for Cancer Research.
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