The Other Side Reviews - A Chat with John Keenan (14.02.23)

The Other Side Reviews


Featured on Find No Enemy, Sinusoidal Music, Music Arena GH, Music Talkers, and various playlists, singer-songwriter John Keenan is reaching audiences on an international scale. We speak with the alternative pop artist about his new album, Mind of a Madman II, what music means to him, future plans and much more!

OSR: What made you decide to pursue music as a career?

Keenan: I have no idea. Literally no clue. I think I know, but then I don’t. I don’t know how I ended up here. I don’t even know where I am.

OSR: What does music mean to you?

Keenan: I don’t know. I think maybe it’s playing with energy or something or trying to imitate God or something. Maybe capturing a moment or feeling on a medium. Mine happens to be sound I guess, like a photograph would capture some moment in time from a perspective. For me maybe it’s like, “this is how I can best describe this perspective or this feeling on this medium.” It’s wildly incomplete too. It’s just the faint essence.

OSR: What do you hope people take from your music?

Keenan: I hope people enjoy it. I hope more that they pursue or move toward what beckons them or sparks their soul. Maybe it’s painting or writing, cooking or gardening. I don’t know what someone else’s deal is, but the fun is in the process.

OSR: What can you tell us about your album Mind of a Madman II?

Keenan: It sort of assembled itself. I wasn’t planning to make it really. I had a totally different everything in mind. A different vision for it. It ended up better than I could have hoped though. Some songs are 5 years old, some I wrote the week I had to send them in. I had a lot of help along the way for sure.

OSR: If you had to recommend one song from Mind of a Madman II to a new listener, which would it be?

Keenan: ‘Try and Find Love’ because it reminds me of Commons song, ‘The Light’. I really loved that song as a little dude. I don’t remember making the beat really and I wrote the lyrics really quickly in the summer of 2021 because I wanted to take a nap. I wrote big pauses just because I was lazy. I think I made the beat in 2020. When my friend Samantha came and re-recorded my chorus it just worked. The song would be just some weird dude singing with himself without Samantha. She really made the whole thing work.

OSR: You collaborate with various artists on Mind of a Madman II. What do you think are the benefits and challenges involved with collaborations?

Keenan: Samantha Dalton was the biggest. She’s on 4 songs. Collaborating with her is great fun. Having Robert Rebeck mix it is literally a dream come true. I met the guy once in 2010. He was like Michael Jordan to me or something. Having X-Raided & Krizz Kaliko on there is really cool too. I just can’t even wrap my head around the idea that Robert Rebeck not only knows my music but can’t fix my disasters. I’m pretty sure he’s a wizard or something.

OSR: You mention that Mind of a Madman II was conceived when you were in a state mental hospital. Do you think mental health is being adequately represented in the music industry?

Keenan: I don’t know. We’re all a little crazy. I’m still totally nuts I’m sure.

OSR: What advice do you have for people dealing with mental health difficulties? It’s a bit of an odd question but I’m curious.

Keenan: Don’t believe your mind. Get out of your head. I have all kinds of stupid thoughts all day long. Doesn’t mean any of them are true or false. It’s probably a lifetime practice of letting go of what I think it ought to be or how it is. It’s tough but just chill. Check out that bird or fly a kite or whatever. Try and be where your feet are. Accept what is. Don’t beat yourself up. You don’t need to do anything but be you. That’s tough to do sometimes and impossible to understand. We’re always striving for more. To have more or be more, be somewhere else or someone else. It’s all in our heads and makes us miserable and afraid. My struggles with mental health broke me all the way down to my core where I realised, for a second, everything is perfect. My mind has collapsed in on itself like 5 times. Feels like the world is ending. Looking back was just a rebirth.

OSR: How would you describe your music?

Keenan: All over the place. That’s what I wanted to make. I just wanna smash cool stuff together from different genres and try things artistically that scare me. I wanna put worlds together that people would think don’t belong, especially in song selection. My dream would be to make an album with the hardest, most intricate spitters on the planet with the hardest beat directly after a country song and before a Frank Sinatra-sounding thing. I want people to not know what to expect. Why do we label music anyway? We’re just moving through time basically on the same harmonic scales.

OSR: What future plans do you have for your musical career?

Keenan: No plans really. I just want to make cool stuff. I like tight beats and cool harmonies and chords that send a chill up my spine. I seriously just want to tinker all day and screw around with stuff. That’s all I’m really doing. If people like it that’s a bonus. I have fun making it. The process of screwing around is the fun part. Anything extra is a bonus.

Many thanks to John Keenan for speaking with us. For more from John Keenan, check out his official website, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

This artist was discovered via Musosoup #sustainablecurator