Joe Keegan: One to watch in 2020

Rising star Joe Keegan, who took part in the Voice in 2014, told Mags McGagh about his musical journey so far.

Royal Northern College of music student and singer/songwriter Joe Keegan recently headlined with his band at the iconic Band on the Wall venue in Manchester.

“My musical influences go back to when I started Irish dancing when I was six. I didn’t realise it, but you take the music in and it was inevitable that when I started to write music that it would influence my artistry.

“I began performing publicly singing at the age of fourteen.

“I attended the Manchester Irish Festival with my dad at the marquee in Albert Square. My dad got chatting to the organisers and managed to get me a slot to perform that night.

“The following year I went to the festival again. Fortunately for me a band had dropped out, so I got my chance to perform for thirty minutes, just me and my ukulele. I found myself playing to almost 900 people, it was the best day of my life.

Joe with his bandmates.

“On the back of that performance I was booked to play at the festival for an hour the following year and that’s when I decided to put the band together.

“Year on year since, we have been headlining it. The festival has been a fantastic thing for us. I am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way through the Irish community in Manchester.

“The Irish bars in Manchester have been wonderful to us and in one academic year we played over 150 gigs.

“On the back of that we managed to get our record deal with Northern Quarter Records. No one else at the RNCM is doing anything like us so it has opened up so many things for us.

“None of the band knew each other before we started to study at the college. Most of us had Irish ancestry so it was great to have that in common.

Joe singing on The Voice.

“At the age of 16 I took a year out to take part in the Voice UK. This process was over a nine-month period and enabled me to take my music much more seriously. I got through to the ‘battle rounds’ with Kylie Minogue as my mentor.

“My songwriting started when I was 12 but I started to take it seriously when I was 16 and entered a songwriting competition at the Farmers’ Arms pub in Burnage.

“I was amazed when I got through each round and eventually won it.

“It was judged by Jimmy Docherty who had been a guitarist with Ronan Keating and Simon Ashby from Sony Records.

“At the RNCM I write for my own original music project, but it has also given me the opportunity to write for others too.

“I have been writing for Notting Hill Publishing and this has taken me to Holland twice this year and it is definitely unlocking some doors for me.

“The RNCM actively encourage you to pursue these things even if it means you miss some lectures.

“We recently recorded our latest single at Abbey Road Studio which was a surreal experience.

Hannah and Mairead who provided support on the night.

“I was in the vocal booth doing my takes and as I left it, I noticed a photo on the wall of Freddie Mercury using the same vocal booth I had just used. I thought, ‘It doesn’t get much better than this’.

“This time next year I graduate, and I can’t thank the RNCM enough for the support I have received and not just academically. They actively encourage you to pursue gigs and get that experience with your music.

“We have big plans for 2020 which will see us releasing more music and taking on much bigger gigs. We are so excited with what is to come.”

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