Keir’s debut live show took place in 2016 at the Nest, here in Bath. Now, he returns to Bristol, his hometown, to play a show at The Louisiana. Writer Maddie Christy attended his electrifying gig on 25 April 2018 and was able to catch him for an exclusive interview ahead of the release of his newest single, ‘Sadboy’.
“Excuse me, can we make a gap please?”
Feeling a tap on my shoulder, I move to my right to see Keir, head down, making a trail through the crowd. When onstage, he crouches and the familiar intro to ‘Probably’ begins. Perhaps he feels grounded, united with the chords that ring out as the room continues to fill to the brim.
After the song ends there is a fateful glow and Keir turns his back on the crowd. Then he twists his neck to face us. His attitude returns. This is when he comes alive and the audience are held captive by his astonishing range and punctuated arm movements.
As he sings it’s almost as if he’s preaching his passion through every movement. “I was told to bite my tongue” – he lifts his hand and pulls down on his mouth. It’s rebellious, it’s audacious, it’s all contained in the person, Keir. He looks completely in his element. Any nerves are concealed behind his mysterious and authoritative manor, his assertive stare.
His energy and expressive moments have a huge impact: he is as large and as mighty as the songs he creates
Keir definitely has a presence reflective of those greats before him: Freddie Mercury and even Bowie. He hypnotises the crowd with a simple glare or a dizzy movement, staying in the small circumference of the stage he chooses to remain. He uses his microphone not only as a tool, but a prop – a way to speak to the masses through the veins of soulful, dark, pop.
Keir continues to impress us as ‘Live This Way’ begins to play. His arm stretched out, Keir looks at the crowd with a different kind of stare now… he is ready to address the audience. Pointing his finger, he is sincere as he advises us “what will be will be”. His vocals are some of the best I’ve heard in a long time, and the way he adjusts his voice to project it takes power. It ties in with his image – he is king and everybody will listen.
Two hours before its release, Keir announces that his new single will drop at midnight. It’s called ‘Sadboy’ and I’m impressed. This song is sexy, the bass is dirty and Keir manages to lay on top of every detail in the instrumentation and backing vocals. I am blown away by the tightness of the band and how well every song has been constructed. In ‘Sadboy’ we get to see another side to Keir, one more cheeky and sensual.
To follow such brilliance, Keir dedicates the next song to his mother. After all, he’s in his hometown and has a lot to owe to Bristol, his friends, family and the local music scene. ‘Mother Give me Strength to Carry on’ enlightens us to yet another side of the singer. It’s something that is less about his vocal intelligence, but more about striking story-telling – relatable to most and emotionally powerful, nonetheless.
Then, the marching pace of the kick and snare grow into the beginning of ‘Night and Day’ – one of my personal favourites because of the R&B influences and the almost spoken verses. His energy and expressive moments have a huge impact: he is as large and as mighty as the songs he creates.
‘Squeeze Me’ is the song that will end his forty-five-minute set. Crouching towards the floor – the same way he began – Keir is ready to explode. This is the most impressive song yet, and the best way to finish the night. As the chorus ascends into pure fire, he jumps up, no longer crouching, to become a wild lion. The crowd move perfectly in time with him. He holds the microphone out – an open arm to entice the crowd. This song is full of hooks and you can’t help but feel the passion, love, anguish, pain, and overall musicality flowing through everything he’s written. Before this gig, I wasn’t one-hundred-percent sure how I felt about Keir’s music. But to see it being brought to life has turned me into a fan.
Now I know: Keir is king.
Maddie was lucky enough to be invited to talk to Keir about his inspirations, music idols and of course his hometown, Bristol. His positivity and beaming outlook on life radiates through his answers. Here’s what he had to say:
Maddie: You’ve just released the second single from your new music and have a video alongside it – how does it feel to see the progress you’ve made since the Maida Vale sessions last year?
Keir: It’s cool. I like to look ahead rather than behind, but of course I feel proud and excited at releasing my songs.
M: What inspired you to shoot the ‘Night and Day’ video surrounded by friends and family?
K: It felt right to do it with all the people who I am closest to because I love them.
M: I feel as though ‘Night and Day’ holds a different element of passion that perhaps isn’t shown in, say, ‘Squeeze me’. With its almost spoken verse, a different side of you is shown – was this a conscious decision based on the subject matter of the song, or did it come naturally in the writing process?
K: It was totally out of the blue, my mates took the piss and asked if I was a grime artist now. But you know what? Fuck it, it feels good so I did it. Like most things in the studio, you can’t really plan what happens. I guess you have to leave it up to the Gods of music or, if you’re an atheist, science.
M: Your songs have a dark, soulful vibe to them. Where does your inspiration lie? Have you found that the Bristol music scene has sparked your diversity?
K: I think if you just go with what feels right and be up for getting it wrong, then you will end up finding what fits best. I love Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin and Etta James so I guess they educated me in what I like. But yes, I also love a bunch of Bristol acts – IDLES are my favorite.
M: You can see when you perform that music is a very magical experience for you. When you write and release your music, do you try to deliver this passion and understanding to your listeners?
K: Yeah there’s nothing quite like it. I prefer performing to having conversations with people. It’s weird, but I just prefer it. I don’t have to think, I can just be. I love for anyone to be in the same room, whether they are interested or not, it helps me paint the picture if there are other humans around.
M: Finally, you’ve got a line of shows coming up all over the UK. How are you feeling in the run up?
K: I haven’t had chance to get nervous but I’m sure that’ll kick in soon enough. I get it really bad to the point where I feel sick. But once we’re on, it’s cool and I’m in my element.
Keir is clearly a creative soul with a great ear and passion for music. I get the impression that within him is the need to create, to express his colourful thoughts and emotions.