A few words with: Declan McKenna

By Matthew Prudham

Palatinate Music catches a minute with indie-rock artist Declan McKenna amidst his UK tour.

The response to your debut album was quite something and extremely positive – did you expect that?
Not at all really: I didn’t know what to expect, and I definitely didn’t think I’d have such an immediate positive response. I barely thought anyone would bat an eyelid!

A lot of your songs touch on emotional themes, especially ‘Paracetamol’ – how do you select these themes for your tracks?
It’s not really a selection process, it’s more writing based on your own emotional response: it just happens.

How was performing with Blossoms at the BBC Introducing 10 gig?
Yeah, it was cool: they’re good pals and it was nice to perform together after playing so many shows on the same bill.

Do you see yourself as the voice of a generation that has been failed by politicians?
Not really, I’m one of many voices. The youth is as full of varied individuals with as vivid a life experience as anyone else. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can voice my concerns.

If you could give the Prime Minister one piece of advice, what would it be?

How hard did you find it to break into the music scene after winning the Glastonbury emerging talent contest?
I couldn’t tell you really. I guess it’s hard to pinpoint at what point you’ve “broken in,” it’s all a gradual process I suppose, and I struggle to say conclusively that I’ve done that in the first place.

Your new video for ‘Why Do You Feel So Down’ is in the style of a workout video – what was the thinking behind it?
The song revolves around conflicting emotions, and the video is very high energy and overly happy, but also kind of awkward and forced in parts: that was the basic theme.

How was working with Rostam Batmanglij on ‘Listen To Your Friends’ – did he add something different to the song-writing process?
Yeah, I mean it’s the only track I wrote with someone else. To me, the tune has a noticeable Rostam taste, and as a fan of a lot of his work as well as a collaborator, working on the song [with him] was very new to me. But [it] was really cool, and we came out with a track that I love.

CD, MP3, Streaming or Vinyl – which platform do you prefer?
It depends [on] where you are – if you’ve got time to sit down with a record player, vinyl is nice but nobody does these days – I stream a lot because it’s so convenient, as much as I hate a lot of the culture [streaming has] created.

Are you excited to be playing in Newcastle? Do you have any memories of playing in the North East before?
Yeah, our last headline at Think Tank was wicked, one of my favourite shows from that tour. I’m looking forward to a hopefully as lively show this time around.

After the conclusion of this tour, what are your future plans – writing, recording or more touring?
All of them, on repeat, forever.

Declan McKenna is on tour now; you can catch his show at Northumbria Institute, Newcastle on Friday 27th October.

Photograph: Simon Neal at Chuff Media

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