ONE of my favourite artists has been busy this last year…
ensuring the music world keeps her majesty firmly in mind. Having reviewed Street Art previously (her album released last year) I was excited to catch up with Dana and see how her year has gone. Halcyon has recently been released and is an album that showcases her immense talents as a songwriter and singer/Beatbox artist. Few musicians have such a range and unmistakable ability as the Maltese wonder. Halcyon shows just how diverse, passionate and stunning Dana is and a very promising sign as we head into 2016. The rest of this year will be busy for the young talent as she embarks on gigs and plans new material.
Hi Dana. I hope you are well. How has your week been?
Hi Sam, I’ve been busy but I can’t complain cause I’ve been jumping from gigs to studio sessions all week.
You hail from Malta- and are among a number of fantastic Maltese musicians in the U.K. Is there a big music scene in Malta/opportunities for young musicians?
The Maltese music scene is full of quality talent and the opportunities on the island provide a great platform for new artists.
Being based in London, the city must offer inspirations and plenty of influence. Do you get inspired by the people and geography of London when writing your music?
I’m generally inspired by my feelings and surroundings, so the city and its people are definitely a big influence when it comes to my music.
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How did you get into music to begin with? Did you Beatbox before becoming a musician or did the two sort of happen at the same time?
I’ve always loved music and used to write poems to instrumental pieces of music when I was younger. I wrote my first proper song and started to beatbox around the same time in my late teens though. It was never something I thought I could do well - things just came together and I discovered a whole new form of expression which I became incredibly passionate about.
You have released a new Beatbox album. Halcyon is full of life and insight. What were your inspirations when writing and recording the album?
This album was inspired by the different elements and happenings around us while we were writing and recording it. Sometimes it’s easier to write and sing lyrics than it is to say them out loud.
Songs like Funk It Up and Melt Your Heart have quite Pop-based cores. What sort of music inspires you? What genes/bands are particularly important to you?
Pop is a genre which comes naturally to me, but I’m inspired by an eclectic array of styles ranging from Hip Hop to Rock.
You worked on the album with Daniel Cassar (a friend of Dana’s). The songs reflect a peaceful state of mind, hence the title. When recording the album, was that a conscious decision? Did you need to regroup and focus on something soothing and melodic to relieve stress and anxiety?
It wasn’t a conscious decision at all, but the songs all seemed to flow in that direction. That’s quite an insightful deduction! I guess we could all do with some musical stress relief every once in a while!
My favourite track from Halcyon is Gone. It has Electro.-Pop vibes and is experimental and fragmented like FKA twigs and St. Vincent. What was the inspiration behind that track?
Thanks for the kind words - it’s an honour to be compared to such artists. As with the rest of the songs on the album, it was all very experimental as we didn’t want to restrict ourselves to a particular genre. We generally drew inspiration from our feelings at the time and just tried to create as genuine an expression of that as possible.
Given the rise of female artists- and the impressive sounds coming through- do you find it a struggle to make your voice heard? Is the day-to-day ‘business’ of music-making quite tiring and harsh?
It’s both increasingly challenging and inspiring to be surrounded by so much incredible music these days. The day-to-day business can be quite tiring but I believe that as long as one works hard and remains true to themselves, then their voice can cut through and be heard. My passion for making music gives me the motivation to keep going and even having my music touch a handful of people’s lives makes it all worthwhile.
You have performed quite a few gigs around London recently, from intimate and charming venues to larger venues. How do the crowds react to your music in general? Are you getting a lot of love and support at your gigs?
I love playing gigs and the variety of shows I play keeps me on my toes. It’s always a great and rewarding experience to have people support what you do and I’ve been pretty blessed in that department.
Can you tell us what the rest of the year/2016 holds? Plans for new material perhaps?
The rest of the year is packed with studio sessions as I’ll be writing and recording lots of new material. There are quite a few exciting collaborations in the works and I’m looking forward to playing more shows in London, as well as headlining a big 3-day concert at the prestigious Manoel Theatre in Malta this December.
You have inspired (take my words for it) some up-and-coming artists. What advice would you give to them with regards the music industry?
That’s very flattering! My advice would be to get out there and gain experience while networking and drawing feedback from audiences. That’s the best way to develop as an artist and pave the way for bigger and better achievements.
Finally, and for being such a good sport, you can name any song, and I will play it here…
‘King’ by Years & Years is a good one that came out earlier this year. Very fresh and inspiring!
Dana McKeon's latest album Halycon can be found at:
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