Five Minutes With Alt-Pop Songwriter Andrew Keoghan
Discussing his new album, musical inspirations, and life in the Big Apple.
Ahead of Andrew Keoghan returning to New Zealand and hitting the road in celebration of his new single 'Something Going On', we caught up with the singer-songwriter to discuss musical inspirations, being back in his homeland and what made him move to the Big Apple.
Concrete Playground: So, you live in America now?
Andrew Keoghan: I do, I moved there four years ago. I lived in New York for three years and the past year I've been living in LA.
CP: What made you make the big move?
AK: In 2011 I spent a couple of weeks in New York to play the CMJ music festival and I just fell in love with the city. I knew then that I wanted to spend a bit more time experiencing more of the city and challenging the way I make music and seeing new things. New York is one of those cities that has everything.
CP: How old where you when you moved?
AK: I was the ripe old age of 32.
CP: That's quite an unusual age to make such a big move. Most people flee the nest in their twenties.
AK: Most of my friends had moved to London in their twenties and I stayed in New Zealand. I think I was quite late to leave but it just felt like the right time for me. I'm not too sure how people manage to survive New York in their early twenties.
CP: New York is the total opposite of New Zealand. How do you cope with that change?
AK: Well it certainly took some adjusting for me. I'm now living in a shoebox with a lot of people around all the time, where as in New Zealand most of us enjoy space and the greenery. New York has that but you really have to get out of the city to find it. Thank goodness for the parks.
CP: How are you finding being back in New Zealand for your tour?
AK: I'm in Auckland at the moment and I'm enjoying the tail of summer. I'm really looking forward to the show, we've got five including one in Australia which will be good.
CP: From what and where do you take inspiration?
AK: I think from a song writing point of view, I do like to walk the line between drama and humour. Our lives are filled with ups and downs, things that are serious and things that are less serious, but I think there is also humour to be found in some sad situations. A lot of songs are my observations of sometimes quite intense things like relationships, friendships and how we go about and navigate life.
CP: What artists inspire you?
AK: David Bowie always had a glint in his eye with most of his songs even with some of his darker material. I'm inspired by his inventiveness. He was a big influence especially when making my second album Every Orchid Offering. I was listening to his album Heroes a lot because to my ear it was equal part pop, experimental and filmic. David Bryne and The Cure are also big influences to my music. I also grew up listening to Brazilian bossa nova and samba. My sister was an exchange student in Brazil and when she came back she would bring lots of tapes with her all in Portuguese and I would listen to them a lot.
CP: Is there a story behind the title of your second album Every Orchid Offering?
It's about a poster I saw a few years ago in Auckland of an older rock star returning to New Zealand. The poster made me think the challenge for him is he has obviously lived the life and enjoyed rock and roll success and here he was attempting this more straight line approach and it got me thinking about the challenges he must face and the temptations he must think of. It got me thinking more broadly about the choices we make in life and whether we decide to constrict ourselves or how we deal with it. It's essentially about how we deal with the opportunities that we are given.
CP: Tell us about your new single Something Going On. What's the thought process behind it?
AK: It's about a long distance relationship. The underlying sentiment with the song is trying to work out how to communicate whether that be texting, emailing and FaceTiming the person that you're in love with on the other side of the world. The notion of being with someone forever, especially nowadays is something that is not necessarily something that we desperately need to hold on to if we are unhappy.
CP: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
AK: The producer Brian Eno would definitely be one. Someone from the past… that's such a tough one. David Bowie would be pretty cool.
CP: Do you have a favourite musical genre?
AK: It changes all the time. A couple of years ago I was into electronic music, but more recently I've been coming back to more minimal acoustic folk and piano. Last night I listened to Radiohead's OK Computer, which always blows me away. It's an album beyond its era, it's definitely ahead of its time. I also love Brazilian music. Anything which focuses on the melody and the vocals really.
CP: Who are you favourite artists at the moment?
AK: American artist Cass McCombs, his album Mangy Love, I can't stop listening to it. Rodrigo Amarante's new Brazillian album Cavalo is also great!
CP: How would you describe your style of music?
AK: I don't know really – it's always hard to describe your own music. It gets described at alternative pop with an orchestral beat to it.
CP: Where is your favourite place in New Zealand?
AK: Bay of Islands is stunning! There is an island there called Urupukapuka and it feels like you're in the tropics or the Caribbean. It's so beautiful!
CP: Any plans on moving back to New Zealand in the future?
AK: I don't think so. I absolutely love it here and when I do come back every summer, I do find it hard to leave, but home is California now.
Andrew Keoghan embarks on his 'Something Going On' tour on April 21. He plays Wellington's Meow on April 27 and Auckland's Tuning Fork on April 28. For more information and tickets, visit andrewkeoghan.com.