Stephen Kearney is a musician whose talent and passion for music have earned him a dedicated following around the world. His ability to craft catchy, memorable songs has made him a mainstay in the music scene. In a recent interview, Stephen spoke about the inspirations behind his music and the challenges he has faced as a musician. He also shared some exciting news about his upcoming projects and tours, which are sure to be must-see events for any music fan.
What first got you into music?
I guess it was family. My father was an actor and a singer and I loved to sing. Throughout my formative years I adored music.
When I was just a young child, my older brother and sisters listened to the great stars of the sixties: the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills Nash and Young. I was quite mesmerised and I started to compose a symphony, writing music in my own way – fascinated by the reaction of my parents, who hated it.
They preferred me to sing in the church choir in Worcester, where Elgar played and where he wrote.
I remember tucking myself away in the manuscript/ sheetmusic room, engrossing myself in the work of Elgar, William Bird, Johann Sebastian Bach and Thomas Tallis
The choir was a blessing. I learned to sing professionally in a disciplined way, read music, hit and hold pitch, and over the years I acted and sang in a host of productions – pantomime , comedy, musicals and so on.
Quite naturally I gravitated towards singing in rock and folk bands, and writing lyrics.
I was a DJ during the 70s and early 80s – possibly the best time in the history of music to spin vinyls! Eventually I worked as a Radio Presenter.
How would you describe the music that you typically
I guess its fair to say I have always loved music, writing and performing – in many genres – and now I enjoy singing and experimenting with Rock and Roll, Indie, Americana/ Country and Celtic styles
My music is born out of passion and life experience – made with love and fury and belief in good.
I want to entertain, capture attention, inspire action – encourage fans to listen, to reflect on what’s going on
I’m a singer, an actor and I have been a political activist all my life. So I sing it to name it – with different moods, different genres, different voices. So my music tells stories. It’s melodic and catchy – and it packs a punch
I sing it as it has been, as it is and as it needs to be.
I sing it loud – because we and things need to change.
It’s urgent! No more bullshit. No more positioning for power in systems that are failing people and planet.
What is your creative process like?
Well this is pretty personal. It often starts when I see or sense something, or a memory flashes into my mind, or I get a reaction to someone or something. Possibly seeing an interaction between people, listening to discussions or a Facebook article, a news item. A reaction irritates me goads and niggles me to a point where I have to do something about it. It then progresses to me lying on the settee or in the bath!
With my eyes shut I feel a thought coming through strongly, and one thought leads to another. I cut the world off – often with a flannel over my face! This is a precious place where no one else is welcome.
It’s really trance-like, and describing it now it sounds weird – but it’s a creative process drawn from a lifetime
The key thoughts and concepts form and emerge; I open my eyes, jump out of the water, dry off and go to sit and write and read and write.
I don’t stop until the song is complete. It can take hours, or it can take minutes.
When I read back what I’ve written, in the cold light of day, when I’m out of my writing trance, I find it hard to recall where it all came from or how it was written. This, for me, is a beautiful and rich creative process, pure and uncontrived.
If a song doesn’t flow, I bin it.
While I’m writing I start to hum and hear a melody; I like to create different versions of a song, and I then bring in musicians to develop it, arrange and produce the master.
Can you tell us a bit more about your favorite song and
what inspired you to make it?
This is a hard question, which I’ll answer in two parts. My favourite song is not yet complete. It’s called Sing, Sting, Rise. It’s a reflection on the importance of influencers who are motivated to act against hate, whatever the cost to them. Boxing Champion Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Mohammed Ali, singer Sam Cooke and civil-rights activist Malcolm X are known to have meet with NFL player, Jim Brown. Ali and Brown were set to make headlines in and out of the sporting and entertainment arena, and within a year, Malcolm and Cooke had been murdered.
I guess I’m interested in transformative power and human potential to do good, to find solutions, share the care, not feed the greed
My favourite completed song is an Americano Country track. It’s funny and dark, and it’s called For the Love of Lili.
71 year old Lili owns a roadside diner in the mid west. She is quiet and reclusive and she owns a Harley Davidson. At weekends she rides off alone, no one knows where, to hunt down perpetrators of online crime and organised abuse. She researches her victims’ obsessions and habits and then carefully plans their “accidental demise”.
I wrote this song to draw attention to systems of justice that are not fit for purpose, as this can lead to people taking the law into their own hands. Is Lili right to do what she does?
Which famous musicians do you admire?
Musically: Faithless, Morcheeba, Avicci, RL Burnside, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young – I could write a never ending list.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Ha! So what’s the definition of trouble? With Julia, my soul partner, we created a process that involved listening to thousands of people in communities, organising groups and networks that would work to solve problems and lobby politicians to actually build healthy communities people both need and want.
Well, when you lift stones, you can uncover shit, so you have to make peace between people or get ready for the reaction from those that will do anything to cover their tracks! If that’s trouble – we got into it, stayed in it and lived with it for years. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
At boarding school, we played a lot of tricks. I got into serious trouble by regularly pretending to trip up with a pile of plates that would crash to the floor in the dining room to raucous cheers from fellow inmates as we were marched off for punishment.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
I was once advised by my mentor to be creative, to find and be who I am – to meditate and to fully pursue the practice of Tai Chi (interesting as I’d dabbled in martial arts as a child). It took many years to become a full time musician and I’ve practiced Tai Chi every day for years. What wonderful advice – for developing process and flow
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on a Christmas song, which I decided to write now in season, for release next year – I’ll be recording it in the Studio in Tuscany. I’m arranging music for another 10 songs – I’ve already written lyrics for 22 – and working on developing relationships with producers and studios so that I can physically meet and spend more time with band members in Italy and Ireland.
I also want to find investors and artists to develop a collaborative show, launch a sustainable tour and nurture an online community of active fans. The music could just be the beginning!
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