Interview: Declan McKenna


On Wednesday 22nd March, hotly-tipped young Brit musician, Declan McKenna, will be taking over The Wedgewood Rooms on Albert Road.

Declan McKenna is an 18 year old indie singer-songwriter, best known for winning Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015. He later released his first single ‘Brazil’, a social commentary on the ethics of FIFA hosting the World Cup in the poverty stricken country without addressing the situation that desperately affects many people of the nation. Far removed from the emotional lyrics of other popular teen artists, ‘Brazil’ touches on the important topics of money, power and corruption. The song quickly gained popularity across the globe and reached number one on the Alt 18 Countdown in January 2016.

After finishing up recording his first album earlier this year and beginning a hugely successful UK tour, Declan is now heading to Portsmouth to perform for his South Coast fans. We got the chance to catch up with Declan before the show.

Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
I guess I got into music through my family. Music played a big part of my life growing up and I’ve always been surrounded by it at home. My parents and most of my siblings play instruments, and while my family has influenced so much in my life, music is one example of that.

For those who are new to your music, which three tracks would you encourage them to check out and why?
Brazil – because it’s the most popular one.
The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home – because it’s my favourite I’ve released.
Isombard – because it’s Gary Barlow’s all time favourite track!

If I were to turn on your iPod right now, what three artists/songs would I see on your recently played list and what is it about those artists that appeal to you?
MF Doom – because I always listen to lots of him. His music is good for any situation, he’s one of the best rappers ever.

Dirty Projectors – because I loved their last couple of records so I’m trying to get into this new one. I’m not hooked as much as before but I reckon it will take a few more listens. Some really incredible moments on this one though.

De La Soul – because I’m going to see them soon so I’ve been hitting the new record pretty hard in anticipation. I’m really glad this one stands up with their classic records, and I love the collab with David Byrne.

In 2015, you won Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition. Could you tell me more about how that came about and how it felt performing at such a prestigious festival at such a young age?
Basically I signed up for it online, it got whittled down from 6000 entrants to 8 to play in a battle of the bands in Pilton in April, which I won. It then got me two slots at Glasto which was unreal. It’s like no other place on Earth, and being able to perform there was – cringeworthy as it sounds – a dream come true.

Over the years, has your approach to songwriting changed, and if so, how?
Much like anything, it has changed. You just get better at it over time, you learn about yourself and how you are best at working with things. Mostly, I think I’ve learnt to not be afraid to take influence from songs or artists I like and compare myself to them.

You have to try and make music that stands up with the best in the world, even if you don’t it’s what you have to aim for to make something good.

While on tour, do you get very much time to explore the towns and cities that you are playing? If so then I can certainly recommend a few spots in Portsmouth / Southsea.

It depends really. Some days I wake up in a city and I can go and do a bit of exploring, feeling all artsy and cultured and that. Other days I arrive, go straight into soundcheck, find food, play the show and then it’s off to the next city.

I like to do as much stuff as possible, otherwise just doing the same show routine everyday drives you mad.

For those fortunate enough to have tickets to this tour, what can they expect from your live show?
Lovely, wholesome fun.

If you would like to see Declan perform at the Wedgewood Rooms then there are still a limited number of tickets available. More information can be found at www.wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.

Website: www.delanmckenna.net
Twitter: www.twitter.com/DeclanMcKenna
Facebook: www.facebook.com/DeclanMckennaMusic
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thedeclanmckenna


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