Whilst New York’s CMJ 2011 was in full-swing, our editor-in-chief Larry Heath sat down with folk-pop artist Andrew Keoghan to talk about his recently-released debut Arctic Tales Divide and his busy live schedule.
So we are over here at CMJ in New York City – your first time as a performer. How has your experience been so far?
I’ve been blown away by the city; it’s really a great, great place. I’ve only been here for a week but it feels like I’ve taken in about a month’s worth of sights and interesting experiences.
And how much longer are you here for?
I’m here for one more week.
Are you fitting any more shows into that period?
I’ve got about five shows while I’m here, including two showcases for CMJ. We’ve done three shows so far, this is our fourth show tonight - it’s been really cool so far.
Well you’re keeping pretty busy! So you’re over here promoting your album Arctic Tales Divide. Could you talk a little about that record and how it came to be?
Well Arctic Tales Divide is my first album, so it’s sort of like a collection of experiences from the past five or six years really. I guess most of the songs are about strange encounters and kind of confused love – I guess there are a few awkward moments in those tales [laughs].
Did you record it at home?
I recorded it a studio in Auckland called the Lab Studio, with an engineer called Oliver Harmer and a producer called Wayne Bell. I did all the string parts at a home studio though.
I understand you are classically trained as a singer and developed into you playing strings – is that correct?
Well I started on violin and singing when I was pretty young and my mum kind of got me into that by dragging me along to classical lessons, for a while she had to really drag me kicking and screaming – eventually I started to enjoy the lessons. So then singing became more of the thing I spent my time on.
And how did that progress then to you starting to write your own material? Was that a natural process or a planned one?
For a few years I was writing instrumental music – which was really from just listening to a lot of singer-songwriters in my late teens and early twenty’s – Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Leonard Cohen for example. I just kind of like realised that I really enjoyed putting songs together and enjoyed the poetry of what they were doing, and that just kind of intrigued me and became something I wanted to try.
How do you feel now that you’ve got it out and you can hold it in your hand as an album? What’s that feeling like when you think back to that beginning process?
It’s great! It’s special when you just release your first album because it usually takes a while to come together. I’ve been writing some new material for the second album and everyone has been telling me how hard it is to do a second album [laughs]. I’m trying not to think too much about it - the priority right now is to get the debut album over here [U.S.A] since it’s already been released in New Zealand and Australia.
Do you feel like there’s some interest growing over here or is it too early to tell?
Yeah there are a few things going on! We’ve got some meetings over here and things are really starting to progress so it’s getting there – I reckon we’ll get the album out here next year!
Do you think that, when there is that sort of impact overseas, does that then change the way you’d be perceived back home?
I guess so. I guess that in New Zealand there is a warmth to musicians who are playing overseas, and then welcomed back. I haven’t thought to hard about that actually but there is a really cool music scene in New Zealand.
The main reason I’ve come here is that I really enjoy playing my music live, and in New Zealand there is only so many opportunities to play because it is a small place and there aren’t many cities to play in – which is why I’ve been going to Australia a lot this year.
How have your experiences in Australia been this year?
Really great! I’ve really loved the time I’ve had in Australia. I spent the most time in Melbourne and it’s a really great music scene. I’ve played to some really cool audiences in some really cool venues. I really love the music scene over there!
Will we be seeing you there over the summer at all?
I hope so!
Well best of luck with getting your record released out here [U.S.A] and the rest of the shows!