Ryan Keen Irish Tour dates and New Single announced
December Irish Tour dates: ( supporting Gavin James )
Dec 6th The Forum, Waterford, Ireland
SAT Dec 07 Dolans Warehouse, Limerick, Ireland
SUN Dec 08 Róisín Dubh, Galway, Ireland
TUE Dec 10 Black Box, Belfast, UK
THU Dec 12 Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ireland
FRI Dec 13 Pepper Canister Church, Dublin, Ireland
On his new debut album, Room For Light – which was self-funded and recorded, largely in a small shed in his garden – Ryan explores the light and shade of life and love, with a series of songs that are remarkable for their subtly rich arrangements and his intimate style of playing and singing – you can hear him draw breath and feel the scrape of his fingers on the fretboard.
“I have much to say,” sings Ryan Keen on his track Orelia, and it’s true: he does have plenty to communicate, but then, he’s packed quite a lot into his first quarter-century. And now he’s coming to tell you his stories. The singer-songwriter with the warm, breathy voice, technically virtuosic guitar playing style and armful of confessional and/or observational material is about to become your favourite new bard.
The songs are quietly varied. Opening track and first single to Irish radio “Know About Me” showcases Ryan’s unusual guitar style and his husky, comforting baritone. Fans of artists from John Martyn to Ray Lamontagne will find much to enjoy here. The song increases in richness as it proceeds, the guitar enhanced by keyboards and strings. Skin And Bones is another fully arranged tune, almost Coldplay-ish, positioning Ryan less as a troubadour and more as a potential band frontman with arena appeal. You can imagine this being sung by big crowds in big venues. See Me Now opens with ambient electronic effects, and has a catchy, textured chorus. Old Scars marries a personal lyric with an infectious melody and a layered arrangement, with guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and backing vocals serving a song exploring memory and loss.
He was born in 1987, in Totnes, to a speech therapist mother and deep sea diver dad. Growing up, he listened to an eclectic mix of music: the seminal folk axis of Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn but also blues legends such as BB King and King’s most famous acolyte Eric Clapton as well as Buena Vista Social Club – he even had a hip hop phase. His all-time hero is John Lennon and he thinks the first two Coldplay albums are “genius”. And he’s heavily influenced by Spanish guitar – a travelling Flamenco guitarist turned up in Totnes one day and turned Ryan onto that style of playing. You can hear all of these influences, to a greater or lesser extent, in Ryan’s songs.
He studied Commercial Music at Westminster University with the intention of pursuing a career in the music industry, either in law or management – he did work experience at a Music Management Company, who looked after Zero 7 and David Holmes – when a couple of major events had the galvanising effect of turning his dream of an alternative future as a musician into a reality.
“I lost a friend in my final year at University,” explains Ryan. “He died suddenly from heart failure. He was fit and healthy and it came totally out of the blue. That really rattled me. But that’s what got me started as a singer-songwriter. I realised how fragile and short life is. I had been nervous and shy about performing but now I really wanted to do it. It struck a chord, the realisation that anyone can go at any time, so you might as well have a go.”
By 2013, Ryan was supporting Plan B at the iTunes festival and was the only unsigned act appearing on the whole month long bill. He also recorded a live EP and another called Back To The Ocean which featured a duet with Newton Faulkner called Reflections In The Water, which led to an invitation to join him on tour as his special guest. He embarked on his own headline tour and supported Leona Lewis, which saw him playing arenas as well as the Royal Albert Hall in London. After furious gigging – 260 shows in the last 14 months – Ryan has accrued a sizable fanbase. He’s been remixed by Modestep and made a cameo on a single by rapper Benny Banks. His Twitter followers include everyone from Ed Sheeran to Harry Styles and he’s got the crucial support of BBC Radio 1. He’s also collaborating with some of the scene’s key writers and producers: The Nexus (Lana Del Rey), Craze ‘n’ Hoax (Emeli Sandé), Fink (John Legend, Pro Green) and Dan Dare (Maverick Sabre, Wretch 32). Life couldn’t be better, even if his music is often deliciously sombre and downbeat, with lyrics torn from the pages of his diary and written as a form of therapy. Ryan Keen has good reason to look on the bright side.