Where they’re from: Dublin, Ireland
Songs you’ve heard on 88Nine: “Moments Passed”
RIYL: Bon Iver, James Blake, Glen Hansard
Where to see them live:
Tune in to hear an exclusive Studio Milwaukee session at 12:30 p.m. this Thursday, August 2.
You can see a live performance tomorrow in Madison at the Majestic on Wednesday, August 1.
5 Questions with Dermot Kennedy
1. Some of our listeners have referred to you as the “Irish Justin Vernon”…
Stop that. That’s the dream.
… and we recently went to his music festival Eaux Claires here in Wisconsin. I feel like the Dublin music community is similar, you have Glen Hansard who is lifting artists there and helping. What has the Dublin music community like for you?
Yeah, there is a really, really strong history and heritage when it comes to songwriters. Glen Hansard has been really good to me, especially in the last three years. He’s like a legend. I feel like he’s similar to what it’s like with Justin Vernon in Wisconsin; this kind of legend of music. And with Glen, he’s been around for so long he’s like the father of Irish music to me. So yeah, I wouldn’t say it’s much different. It’s cool how it all comes together and people do what they want to do. It’s such a massive industry so to speak, so from that sense, all that happens is that people only care about their music, so it has a really cool vibe to it.
2. I read about Glen bringing you on stage and introducing you to a larger audience, but before that, were you collaborating with a lot of people?
No, not at all. Before that, I did all my own gigs, but it was never more than a 200 people kind of thing. Then, he invited me to play with him and his band and he was the most accommodating person ever. He basically was like, “It’ll be your 10 minutes at my gig and you can use the band or not. It’s totally your platform to do whatever you want to do.” I think there were like 1,500 people there.
It was just really, really, really cool and he just couldn’t have been nicer about the whole thing. Funny though, it actually just clicked in my head right now that I’m doing two sold-out nights in that same place this year, so that’s kind of crazy.
Wow. How do you deal with that mentally? I can’t imagine the difference of performing for 200 to to 1,500. How did you even prepare for that? Has the way you write changed to the way you’re thinking of an audience?
No. That’s a good question and I think about that sometimes too myself. I used to play in the streets and I used to bus in Dublin and one of the main obstacles you have when you’re doing that is to try and be heard over the street and over all the people, and you end up shouting so much. I think a lot of my songs are actually quite challenging, vocally, just because that’s the sort of headspace I was in, in terms of trying to be loud, essentially, to be heard.
If anything, I’m trying to take a step back from that in realizing it doesn’t have to be heavy all the time. But yeah, I mean, to be playing the bigger crowds, it’s just fun. It doesn’t really change anything. I think the most people I’ve played to in a venue is when we supported Lana Del Rey and that was 5,000. At that point I could see the first three rows and the rest was just, like, darkness.
It must be nice to have an audience that’s there to hear it.
Oh for sure. That’s a big part of it, yeah. I’ve played so, so many gigs where it’s almost as if you’re trying to convince people of what you’re doing. So now to be doing gigs where people are there and they bought a ticket and they want to be there and you’re the person they’re there to listen to, yeah, mentally and in terms of your confidence, it is a huge help.