Following a run of sold out shows earlier this year, global star on-the-rise Dermot Kennedy will return to stage in support of upcoming debut album, Without Fear. 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 has gone on to rack up a staggering 55m million streams on Spotify encounting. ‘Moments Passed’, now with a spectacular video directed by Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar collaborator Nabil has continued his success.
With a full stage show including video playback showcasing the talent of this songstress, The Amy Winehouse Experience will take you on a journey through the emotional roller coaster of her song writing, guaranteed to have you singing and dancing along throughout the performance.
I really love Eminem I love his storytelling. I’m a big fan of Paul Simon I love Leonard Cohen I like Citizen Cope a lot. I listen to a lot of different types of music, I also really like System of a Down I listen to a lot of rock music and stuff. Pauses. Oh, I love Coldplay too.
Equal parts rustic folk and soulful grit, Ireland’s Dermot Kennedy offers his own blend of passionate, introspective songwriting in a vein similar to fellow countryman and forebear Glen Hansard.
That was cool. Mike Dean was on his laptop texting Travis Scott, because that was in the middle of them working on Scott and Quavo’s collaborative album Huncho Jack. He had to mix that as soon as I was gone, and so he was in constant contact with Travis Scott. He was actually texting Travis Scott while he was doing his remix of Moments Passed.” If I were to play a song for Travis Scott it would be that one anyway—it’s got this crazy intro of these pitched vocals. So, Mike got on FaceTime with Travis Scott, and then I was on FaceTime with Travis Scott, just talking about music. That was the best for it to happen, with Mike Dean just handing me the phone, because otherwise I’d freak out.
He said: The first CD I ever bought, it was a live album by an Irish band called The Frames. It’s Glen Hansard’s band from when he was like 19 to this day.
The EP opens with “Glory,” an emotional, infectious tour-de-force that solidifies Kennedy’s status as a vocal powerhouse with equal parts grit and grace. Densely stacked harmonies meet minimalist instrumental production on the track, which is propelled forward by hypnotically off-kilter percussion loops. “I’ve learned that doves and ravens fly the same,” he sings in a subtle nod to the two life-altering events that underlie each of the EP’s four songs: falling in love and facing the death of someone close to him.
Streaming success stories might be increasingly commonplace, but it’s not often artists build a global following solely off the platform, before getting signed or even having management. Put into perspective, Kennedy is still more popular across America than he is in his native Ireland. He is, of course, now signed to management (which, by the way, he shares with Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey) and he also has a label. But as with so many shrewd young artists these days, he waited until exactly the right time to sign. Sign too early and musicians are at the mercy of overbearing execs who at best can push their own vision for the music and at worst can shelve them completely. But build a brand first and artists like Kennedy get to call the shots in their careers. The leverage you can have if you are already growing and proving it is massive. The shows we did in LA and New York sold out. No one else unsigned was doing that,” he says.
That was pretty crazy. I didn’t really know what to expect. I think the seven-year-old, tiny, afraid me would have thought no one comes, but a lot of people came and it was really bizarre. I feel like I have moments every once in a while where I’m just like, this can’t be real. That was definitely one of those moments.
People who are popular here, like Post Malone, are massive in Ireland, but the music scene there has always been really strong. It’s really cool in the sense that people just care that they come to your show and you do your thing, and it’s good. That’s why I look up to Hozier so much. He had this worldwide success but stayed so grounded and committed to his craft. He didn’t buy into the celebrity. He just hid away and made an album, and it’s always been about the music. That’s really important in Ireland. It’s all about the music and people don’t care about anything else.
It was early-ish last December. I basically had a bunch of songs that I loved but I knew weren’t going to be on an album, so we decided to just put an EP together. It was just crazy to be in his house for a few days and see how he works, and also to have his engineers listening to one of my banjo-driven songs, and to see Mike Dean working on it. I wasn’t really happy with that song for a very long time, but it helped to see that they were into it.
One of Ireland’s biggest successes of 2019 has to be Dermot Kennedy. He’s been working hard and honing his craft for the last few years, but this year Dermot has reached new heights and really hit the big time.
Despite being relatively new to the music scene, Dermot Kennedy has already toured venues throughout the US and Europe. He’s appeared as part of the lineup at festivals such as SXSW and Coachella In many cases, he plays to sold-out crowds.
Oh my gosh. My relationship with all of my early songs has changed. I only get them out on very special occasions. When I listen back to the songs and the lyrics, I do feel a bit silly at some of the lyrics. I feel like they’re kind of immature and they’re a real marker of that time, where I feel like I didn’t know anything about anything and I would write a very naïve perspective of what I thought love was. When I think back to those situations, I think that actually was me a lot of the time in the raw or me doing something stupid. In the song, I maybe portray it as differently or the other person’s fault. I do think about my old songs a lot in that way, but I don’t regret writing them. Once time has passed, I keep having to move on with songs. They’re real markers in the book that I keep writing. It’s very hard for me to go back in time with them, but “Anything Could Happen” is a big favorite because I just remember being in such a happy place when I wrote it.
Since the release of his stunning April 2017 EP, Doves and Ravens, and follow-up single ‘Moments Passed’, Kennedy has shot to over 300m plays on streaming platforms and been hailed as a big, beautiful and bold” new voice by Beats 1’s Zane Lowe.
Yeah and that’s also because hip-hop is top of the game now, and pop means popular,” so it is pop technically. And Kanye is going for the rock Grammy for his song with Kid Cudi Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2)”, so I definitely think it doesn’t matter. I think that’s evident in the way my sound came to be. I would never try to use a certain ingredient from a different genre because I think people will like it. It just took shape that way. And I’m happy for it to go any way: It can be a song like Moments Passed,” with that Kanye-sounding pitched intro, or just a song on a piano for three minutes. I feel really free, creatively. It’s not surprising to me that Kanye West and Bon Iver worked together, because what’s the difference? Genres are as loose as ever.
Sometimes I’m like, “God, do I really want to write this about this person?” but sometimes I just have to tell the truth and even if it shows how emotional I am or shows my true colors or whatever, it just has to happen. That was one of those moments with that song. I’m proud of all the songs I’ve written. I’m proud of the huge cheesy pop songs and I’m proud of the more obscure weird ones, like when I first released a song called “Under the Sheets” on an EP with a song called “Fighter Plane,” and I’m proud of how I was thinking at that age. I was maybe 20 and I was already writing in a somewhat mature way. Laughs. I’m having a proud moment.
With over 300 million worldwide streams under his belt, Dermot Kennedy has a captivating show in store with ‘ Young & Free , ‘ Moments Passed ‘ and brand new singles, ‘ Power Over Me ‘ and ‘Lost’ set to make for an unforgettable night.
The album brings all these cultures together and more to produce something bracing and original. Kennedy doesn’t want the album to be just one thing – we’re trying to push things, sound-wise,” he confirms. His standards are, he admits, very high now. I never, ever want to be seen as somebody who took a shortcut because it seemed like a good idea.” But fans who know him know that a shortcut is the last thing he offers. Indeed, the release of Without Fear will provide them with an even deeper connection to Dermot Kennedy’s world. And he needs the fans, he admits, as much as they need him.
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.
DERMOT Kennedy has come a long way from busking at the top of Dublin’s Grafton Street. It’s like the songs are the chapters of your life, and while the stories are super specific to you, so many people can relate to them.
I think subconsciously I’ve always written with other people in mind. Not in the sense that I want to please people, but I love the idea of providing people with a resolution, or with some kind of consolation for what they’re going through. Music is one of the most powerful things in the world and we all speak its language. When I write lyrics, I understand how much of an impact they can have on people, so I’m always aware of that. When I’m writing about a breakup or I’m writing about the state of the world or the planet or whatever, I try and make it hopeful. If I could be described as being a musician that gave people hope, then I’d be really happy.