Interview with Donovan Keith

What made you decide that music is the right path for you?

After studying acting and theatre for a few years and realizing my much stronger emotional connection to music and its performance. I also made disproportionately more money and garnered quicker admiration playing music than I ever did doing theatre.

What’s your writing process like? Do you write the music or lyrics first?

Any process is fair game. I’ve written lyrics first as well as music first. I’ve written songs purely on a bass guitar before so it’s wherever the inspiration comes from. I find if you only write on one instrument all the time with the same process, the songs end up sounding the same. So it’s important to change the perception of the writing to get more diverse sounds.

Do you prefer performing live or recording, and why?

Live performance is the sole reason I make music. Coming from a live theatre and comedy background, that audience connection is what I make art for. I record music for the purpose of its performance. If It were stuck in the studio only recording I’d be miserable so obviously COVID took its toll. But the studio just stresses me out and I don’t enjoy it as much as I probably should. There simply is no substitute for feeling and sharing emotion with a live audience.

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?

Oh my….where to even begin? I love making and performing music but I despise the industry and its control over markets and consumer behavior. If I could change anything, I would decentralize the corporate stranglehold on consumers. I’d like to also change the culture so that a wider diversity of music genre gets celebrated and we can stop the homogeny of Top 40 Pop.

What would be your dream support gig? Bonus points for place/venue.

I’d love to play the Super Bowl or The World Cup and in a close third place I’d love to play Glastonbury.

What’s the best advice you’d give to your younger self?

Trust your instincts and do everything sooner. Move away from home sooner, learn more instruments sooner, fire toxic band members sooner, etc. I’d always get the feeling I needed to make changes but it always took me a long time to act on them out of fear or anxiety. You will always land on your feet somewhere, but the longer you wait to act is time you don’t get back.

What’s the music scene like where you are from?

Austin, TX music scene is the perfect catch 22. It’s a vibrant scene geared toward local and independent music. You can always find a venue here to play regardless of level and there still remains a culture of concert goers. SXSW, ACL, and a variety of other local festivals also add to the buzz of the city music scene although it’s being overshadowed and exploited by corporate interests. It’s a comfortable place to live and so it’s hard to find musicians willing to grind and push out of the market. It’s the perfect place to grow as a musician or retire from the road and still play. But it lacks ambition.

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