Cutting his teeth at open mics and singing other people’s songs on the streets, the Rathcoole native would carve out his own path, powered by empathetic singer-songwriter bruises and a cannon in his throat.
dermot kennedy tour setlist – New York Metro
Dermot Kennedy’s rapid rise is nothing short of astounding. It was awesome. It’s the first time in a long I’ve performed at a festival and the first festival I’ve done in the U.S. When I first started making music I had the opportunity to do a couple of festivals abroad. But those are actually tented, so it felt like I was inside. This is the first festival I’ve played that was open air. I had a great time. I’ve never been to Napa before, it was beautiful.
Born in 1991 in Ireland, Kennedy was attracted to music at a young age, picking up a guitar at 10 and taking the plunge into songwriting a few years later, at 14. Before long, Kennedy was performing at open mics around Dublin; eventually he found himself busking — playing music on the street for money — in cities around the world. After high school, he studied classical music at the university level for a few years, but ultimately decided to pursue folk music. Kennedy’s big break came when he won first place in a major upset at the South County Song Contest at St. Finian’s GAA Club, putting him on the radar of industry professionals and singer-songwriters around the world.
The massive audience brought on by his streaming success has enabled Kennedy to sell out his own shows in Dublin and London now, but when it came time to record ‘Doves & Ravens,’ he eschewed any temptation to repeat the same musical formula that had brought him past popularity, instead pushing himself further artistically and personally than he’d ever gone before.
Kennedy got his first guitar aged 11, and got serious” aged six years later, before a chance encounter with another of his musical heroes gave him his first big break. Beloved Irish songwriter Glen Hansard had been walking through Dublin when Kennedy spotted him one day in the street, around the time of his first recordings. I invited him to the studio,” Kennedy recalls. “He couldn’t make it, but he called back and offered me ten minutes onstage at his sold-out Christmas show.” The youngster performed his 2016 single ‘After Rain’ and the response was immediate: the track went on to rack up a staggering 33m million streams on Spotify. ‘Moments Passed’ – now with a spectacular video directed by Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar collaborator Nabil – won’t be far behind.
I feel like everyone who’s ever been single, especially when you’re young, where like every one of your friends isn’t single, you just kind of want to punch someone in the face. When they’re like talking about, “Oh and then he did this and it was so cute.” I don’t want to know. I don’t care. I don’t relate. Like leave me alone, I’m going to punch you. That’s kinda what that video is about and what that song is about.
I was talking to someone recently and the name Without Fear came up. I had already named the album but they said, is that the way you live or is it a wish. I was like, it’s probably a wish and it’s a message to myself to try and just live that in every aspect. In terms of the way you love somebody. In terms of how you make art and all that. In terms of how you carry yourself in general.
I figured if you put too much music around that or if you had these big arrangements, you’d lose that intensity or that intimacy and the power of the lyrics getting across. Bon Iver were huge for me in terms of realizing the amount of people on stage can grow, the arrangement can grow, and you can still keep that closeness between you and whoever’s listening. That helped me get out of my own way and start working with musicians and wanting it to grow. I was lucky enough in the last few years to start working with producers who could bring that to life.
Bloom stressed that Kennedy’s musical direction was his own choice. While Kennedy is a streaming artist, 69% of week one sales were physical. Bloom is confident that his debut artist is reaching a wide audience.
This is a singer with a rich, reverbant voice, epically emotive songwriting skills (think Ed Sheeran , but darker, more melancholy) and above all a serious knack for making money. Whether it’s luck, savvy or a combination of both is hard to know – he’ll have you believe it’s luck – but Kennedy has defied the struggling young artist stereotype from the very start. Soon after distributing his first songs to Spotify , one got picked up by Discover Weekly – the playlist of songs that automatically appears on every users account each Monday – and soon it was doing so well that the heads of Spotify were notified.
Dermot Kennedy’s rapid rise is nothing short of astounding. In two short years, he has gone from playing his first US club show at Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn, NY to announcing his debut at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, along with his longest North American tour to date. The 2020 North American tour is produced by Live Nation and takes place in 33-cities.
The 27-year-old Irish musician chatted exclusively with Access Hollywood about his upcoming debut album Without Fear,” which drops Sept. 27, and why he doesn’t put too much weight on the praise.
The venues. The venues are getting better and better all the time. It’s this really lovely way of gauging how your career is going, too. It’s really cool. I try not to take it for granted because I know some people can come and tour the U.S. and play to 10, 15, 20 people, and so I’ve been so lucky that gigs sell out. It’s that lovely thing of you play to, say, three hundred people and then come back in a few months and you play to a thousand people. It’s this beautiful way to watch the rooms grow.
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Her latest single, ” Hate Me ,” released June 26, showcases her prowess as a collaborator with rappers. On the new track, the songstress links up with rising rap star Juice WRLD , as the pair stands up to unappreciative lovers.
The album’s title track finishes with a hint of hope. Well, as hopeful as Kennedy can get: Now I really think you’re heaven sent, ‘Cause you’ve been forcin’ all these hollow hearts to feel again. Now I really think you’re heaven sent, ‘Cause there’s a beauty in being broken, I’ve been seein’ it”.
And even though this life, this love is brief, I’ve got some people who carry me,” Kennedy sang over a stark acoustic guitar, when suddenly the audience turned around to see what the ruckus in back was all about.
Other Voices first welcomed Kennedy to the stage in St. James’ Church in Dingle in 2017 and since then he has gone on to play numerous sold-out shows in Ireland and around the world, and perform on shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
No, not at all. Before that, I did all my own gigs, but it was never more than a 200 people kind of thing. Then, he invited me to play with him and his band and he was the most accommodating person ever. He basically was like, It’ll be your 10 minutes at my gig and you can use the band or not. It’s totally your platform to do whatever you want to do.” I think there were like 1,500 people there.
For those of you who just can’t get enough Dermot Kennedy in your life, we’ve got some good news. Kennedy has 10,155,156 monthly listeners on Spotify , fuelled by playlist support.
It’s so funny because even when you tour, and every night you’re like, oh, my vocals were okay but not on it. But if you listen to that album, it’s like every single thing is perfect. It’s super demanding music vocally and he just nails it. And the first concert I went to, which I won’t talk about much at all, was Westlife It was because of my sister, I had to go.
Want to catch Kennedy on his North American Tour in a city near you? Check out the cities the singer-songwriter will be hitting below. In keeping with recent artist breakthroughs, Kennedy’s No.1 follows years of development, touring and streaming support.
And Boston,” a song Dermot Kennedy wrote about a summer spent busking in the U.S. city while on a student work visa, combines folk with spacey R&B synths and jazzy percussion. The songs equally recall fellow Irish songwriter James Vincent McMorrow, English alt-rock band Alt-J and Dublin indie rock band Bell-X1. All of those artists blend poetic songwriting and storytelling with untraditional organic and electronic instrumentation.
And then Skrillex, when I first met him, he was a pioneer in electronic music. Actually, I really feel like he was a new sound, he was refreshing and I was completely fascinated and completely enthralled by what he was doing and I just wanted to be a part of that. I have such an affinity for electronic music and since I was a kid, my mom listened to lots of rave music and dance music and we had a very specific phase in the U.K. in London, especially of dance music.
The 2020 North American tour is produced by Live Nation and takes place in 33-cities. Beginning on January 24th in Vancouver, BC, Dermot will play his biggest shows thus far in venues, including the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York City, The Wiltern in Los Angeles, The Masonic in San Francisco, and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The tour will also make stops in Dallas, Atlanta and Miami, among other cities, before wrapping up on March 18th at Aragon Ballroom in Chicago, IL. The shows in the new year will follow the previously announced leg of his nearly sold out 2019 run of dates beginning on October 11th in St. Paul. MN.
He has seen his past and present cross over. “I played a festival in Ireland called Electric Picnic. I remember me and my dad drove to it once when I was a kid and parked just outside the artists area just to see what was going on”he reminisces – “I thought how cool it would be to play the festival and hang out there and then I did it all this summer – it was surreal, one hundred percent.” With over 100,000 tickets sold in 2018 and including a sold-out 42-date headline World Tour, Dermot announced new dates for Spring 2019 in October which sold out before the year was finished – including a date at the legendary O2 Academy Brixton and four nights at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.
No doubt, these live dates were buoyed by the fact that he counts none other than Taylor Swift as a fan. In the run up to her fifth album, ‘Reputation’, the singer added DK to a Spotify playlist of her favourite songs.
Maybe the biggest challenge is getting adjusted to life on a tour bus. I was in a tour bus accident three years ago. That was a really short tour. This is the longest period I’ve lived on a tour bus, for almost seven weeks. I didn’t realize how much that affected me. That was the first real near-death experience that I had. So getting back on a tour bus and have dreams about it and stuff, that was the hardest part. Just getting adjusted to living life on the road. That was difficult.
With massive success already at home – his most recent single Outnumbered peaked at number two in the Irish charts – he is the latest in a long line of earnest and Irish male singer-songwriters to make it big at home and abroad. But rather than exploring the political in borrowed blues like Hozier or playing it safe with daytime radio hits like Gavin James, Kennedy is cut from a different cloth as he gets deeply personal with songs that run like a tortured inner monologue.
At the tail end of 2018 and with the success of single ‘Power Over Me’ still rolling, including 30m+ global streams to date and over 10m+ YouTube views, Dermot was hailed as NPR Slingshot’s ‘Best New Artist of 2018′, as voted for by readers and US fans. Alongside this accolade Kennedy was also included by the BBC’s Sound Of, YouTube, Ticketmaster and MTV Push as one of one their key artists to watch for 2019.
And then I think when Lorde’s first album Pure Heroine came out it just blew my mind. Because it was the first pop music that I’d heard ever in my whole life that wasn’t about, you know, like this wild fantasy life that I couldn’t relate to. It was about being in suburbia and I grew up lower-middle class. So I, you know, I didn’t relate to those other songs and that’s the first time I was like, oh my God, this song is about me. Like I relate to this. All I do is sit in the car and that’s what she wrote about. So yeah, she was a big point for me.
Kennedy poetically expresses his inner thoughts in a way that makes each song on the record deeply personal and authentic. ‘Rome’ translates almost as a diary entry, while ‘Outgrown’ blends hip hop influences with the anthemic timbre of his voice, perfected during his days busking.
On Monday night, singer Roy Blair is bringing his electro-indie-pop sound to a sold out Larimer Lounge crowd. Blair’s music is known for its intriguing nature as it blends together a variety of genres. In 2017, Blair released his debut album Cat Heaven and more recently celebrated the release of his latest single Dennis” back in 2018. Although we haven’t heard much from the artist in recent months, this show will be a good one to catch.