Interview with KEELEY

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

Neither. The song writes itself. I’m present for it to flow through me, but out of the 900 or so songs that have written themselves in my presence, not once have I ever sat down and tried to write. The song writes itself, or it doesn’t. I never, ever force it. I never even have to try. I just have to be present, and provide the song a landing strip whenever it falls out of the sky. It’s the easiest and yet the most magical experience in the world. But most other songwriters I’ve read about describe their writing process as sounding like building a fucking Airfix kit, so clearly mine involves a very different process to theirs.

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

For artists to get paid. Everyone else gets paid. Even those considered the lowest of the low in society, such as sex workers and drug dealers, they get paid. Artists don’t get paid, period. There’s an idea prevalent throughout the music biz that artists will still “do it for the love of it” and that’s true, but that allows artists to be constantly manipulated and expected to work for nothing. Money is never, ever my motivation for doing what I do, and I’m someone with extremely modest needs. All I need is one room to live in, and basic food and electricity. I don’t drink or do drugs, I’m permanently and deliberately single, I don’t do “bling”, I have no interest in going on holidays as that would involve walking up and down a beach wishing I was back home making music. I live my life purely to facilitate the creation of the art. I don’t need possessions, some of my clothes that I had when I was 9 years old still fit me, and I don’t need any more clothes than the ones I’m fortunate to have. But there’s an idea among the music biz that food and sleep are irrelevant for artists, that they can live on nothing so they should be made to live on nothing. I’m so frugal and resourceful that I can live on almost nothing. But not absolutely nothing. So that’s something that ought to be overhauled and fast. Alas, it won’t be.

If you could collaborate with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

Inga Maria Hauser
. If she were alive, I’d insist on expanding our band to a five-piece to be able to include her. But then that would be weird, because all the songs are about her. Still, I’d love to do it.

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

Something that took me years to learn is the importance of focusing every possible second of your time on your music, your art. Getting involved in relationships will only derail you from pursuing your art with the maximum ferocity, demonic drive and laser-focused devotion it needs. There is no such thing as security, nor should there be. The security that people seek in relationships is actually a path to far more insecurity, and worse. Time is a precious commodity in life. Giving another person all your time, or a significant portion of your time, and putting them in a position where they can stab you in the back on a whim whenever they feel the need, is a suicide mission. What people don’t realise about relationships, especially in the so-called “modern world”, is that it’s effectively an unwritten contract that basically says, “You are going to make me blissfully happy and content 24 hours a day seven days a week – or I will kill
you. And even if you can make me blissfully happy and content 24 hours a day seven days a week, which is impossible by the way, I might still kill you anyway”. That’s terrifying. But that’s what’s going on the world over, to hundreds of millions of people, right now. So my advice to my younger self would been: Avoid relationships and romantic entanglements forever and focus 1000% on your music, your art. Ever since I followed that dictum, I’ve found true happiness and fulfilment. The answer is within you, always. You’ll never find the answers in anyone else, only more questions. And most of those questions, you’ll end up wishing you had never asked.

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