Sean C Kennedy is a 28 year old singer / songwriter from Irvine, Scotland and since taking his first tentative steps into the studio in 2011, he’s found his true vocation.
His talents have attracted the attention of some impressive established artists and producers including Andy Taylor (Duran Duran), Nik Kershaw, Jake Field, Peredur Ap Gwynedd, Richard Lobb, as well as Peter John Vitesse who has produced records for The Pet Shop Boys, The Bee Gees and Simple Minds.
Blessed with an enigmatic stage presence that captivates an audience, whether performing on stage at the 2012 London Olympics or playing an intimate acoustic show in the back room of his local bar, Sean’s connection with the audience is clear. His determination and unconditional love for great music has turned him into a prolific artist. Since getting into music he’s packed his guitar and hit the road, travelling the world taking in different cultures, their music, people and landscapes before returning home with several albums worth of material, some of which will make up his debut album, titled ’77’, which is out now.
Last year he spent 3 months co-writing and performing in the famous Music City in Nashville and earlier this year Sean flew to Ibiza to perform for Gibson Guitars at the International Music Summit.
Of course you also need great song writing skills which Sean has in spades and this is evident on his recent single ‘You Don’t Have to Feel Lonely’. The songs he writes draw their influence from his love of American folk music. Since he grew up listening to classic bands like The Eagles, Steely Dan and Prince, Sean has found a way to brilliantly blend these influences with his own style in order to create something that’s uniquely his….he’s a little bit soul, a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.
The Scottish Sun music columnist & radio presenter, Jim Gellatly said of Sean: “Performing live is where Sean really comes alive and he has been lucky enough to share a stage with the likes of; The Magic Numbers, JJ Gilmour, Brian Kennedy, John Power and Andy Burrows as well as playing his own sell out shows at Glasgow’s prestigious Oran Mor and his hometown’s Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine”
Iain Strefford (Intimate Gigs) commented “When the time is right Sean’s debut album will be ready for the world to hear, with the exposure that’s bound to be generated once his music gets out there, Sean is set to be a major star”
More recently Sean has been working alongside Grammy award winning mixing engineer Simon Gogerly (U2, No Doubt) who had this to say: “Sean is blessed with the natural ability to connect with an audience in a way few performers manage. The combination of his presence, delivery and songs say this guy is a star”
Having seen him perform at a sell-out show in his home town as well as on the Famous Grouse House stage at this year’s Edinburgh Festival I couldn’t agree more with the feedback above, he is a rising star…. for Sean this is only the beginning of a very bright future.
Want to know more then check out the website here http://www.seanckennedy.com/
I asked Sean about his music, the album, his influences and more, read on to see what he had to say…
You played semi pro football for Hibs FC but unfortunately a knee injury cut that career short… do you see that as a blessing in disguise or are you still a bit gutted you couldn’t play again?
It was definitely a blessing in disguise! I was told I wouldn’t play again but I now play amateur football when I have the time and feel I’m the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been. I guess the music had to find a way out and I know for sure this is definitely the way I was meant to express myself. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I think about is music and ask “how do I improve myself today and what do I need to do to move forward?”. I feel sometimes I can’t remember what life was like before music….pretty bizarre! Yes, I loved football but there’s no better feeling than performing on stage. I wouldn’t change a thing and I’d happily do it all over again.
What or who was the biggest influence in you choosing to become a singer / songwriter?
My dad, he’s a musician, singer-songwriter, guitarist and has been for over 35 years. He never forced me to do music but I grew up listening to some amazing artists like Bryan Adams, Bonnie Raitt, Prince, The Silencers, The Big Dish, Dan Reed Network and Frank Sinatra. Music was always played in the car from when I was a baby and still plays in the car today.
Did singing and playing guitar come naturally to you or was it something you’ve had to work hard at?
I couldn’t sing at all till I was 20 years old, it sounds crazy but I couldn’t hold a note. I took guitar lessons at 11 but I wasn’t interested enough and soon gave that up. I picked the guitar up again 11 years later and seriously got my head into it when I started thinking about a career in music. I’m always looking to improve my guitar playing, especially as that will help to improve the performances of my songs.
You’ve written with some really credible people in the past i.e. Andy Taylor (Duran Duran) and Nik Kershaw to name a few, how did these opportunities come about?
I had management a few years ago who got in touch with the likes of Nik Kershaw, Richard Lobb, and Peter John Vitesse. They checked out some of my work and agreed to write together. I’m very lucky to have had that opportunity. It was a great experience, I learned a lot but am proud of bringing a lot to the table too. I met Andy Taylor at my friend’s studio in Ibiza, we got talking at breakfast one day and he asked to hear some music. We then worked on couple demos which was a buzz!
You played at the Magnum Theatre in your home town of Irvine not long ago as part of Freckfest festival, can you explain what Freckfest is all about?
The late Willie Freckleton, a promoter born and raised in Irvine always managed to attract some huge names to come play in the town. He brought the likes of Thin Lizzy, The Clash, Chuck Berry and Oasis to name a few. He was the reason Radio 1 Roadshow came to the beach park here. He would always be the first to give local bands and unsigned acts a chance to play on the big stage. Willie has now sadly passed away. Freckfest Festival came about to keep his legacy going. Craig Smart and others, who worked with Willie, put the festival together in his name. They are now a charitable status and doing great things for local music.
There were a lot of guitars on stage that night, I counted around 15! How many do you own and do they really sound so different from each other?
I only own 3 (for now!) My dad owns a fair collection. Yes, they all have their own character and bring different textured sounds to the songs.
You traveled a fair bit for your music, what was the favourite country you visited and why?
I spent a week in New Orleans which was pretty cool, but when I spent over 3 months living in Nashville I took the drive to Memphis with some friends. There’s so much history there for me. We went to Graceland, Sun Studio’s and the Civil Rights Museum.
If your music were to take off in America before the UK would you consider moving there?
Yes I would, although I have to keep on the move. I don’t like to spend too much time in the one place. Just get me a huge tour bus with a bunch of gigs and I’ll be sorted!
What’s been the high and low point of your music career so far?
I’ve had some great high points so far. I now realised that you need to have the low points in your career. It brings you back down, it grounds you. Being high all the time isn’t good for you….they tell you that in school haha!
It’s a tough industry you’re in, how do you keep yourself motivated to keep going towards your goals?
There’s always room for improvement in my guitar playing, there’s continuously things I’m learning about my voice. I want to improve my songwriting. We have to learn from the people we look up to, one step at a time. The music today is so wide as in styles and sounds. I believe I can make a difference so I’m going to put myself out there, have some fun and see where it takes me.
What’s the best advice about the music industry you’ve ever given?
I haven’t spent a long time in the industry. It’s a business, always be aware and be yourself… If that helps.
Who would be your dream collaboration to write / sing with and why?
This may be a cliche but I’d love to write with John Mayer. He’s very intelligent. I just want to see how his brain works. I have actually dreamt of performing with Bonnie Raitt, maybe it’s just an early precognition…It’s going to happen!
Whose music are you loving right now?
I have my collection I always listen to. A friend introduced me to guy called Steve Moakler. I admire his simple sense of melody.
Describe yourself in 5 words
Do I really have to? (Ha that’s 5)
Ok, I’ll let you off with that one! I notice you have the number 77 tattooed on your arm, it’s also the name of your new album, what’s the significance of it?
Elvis Presley died in August 1977. In the September at The Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow, a tribute to Elvis’s life was being held. My dad and his band at the time were asked to perform some classics of Elvis’s at the show.
Also that night my mum, who was a professional dancer, was to share the same stage. My mum watched my dad from the wings as he sang, my dad watched as she danced on stage. After the show he built the courage to talk to her and ask her out. This was the first time they ever met.
The 77 on my arm is in the middle of a love heart. The heart is off center because love isn’t perfect, is it?
Can you tell us a little bit about the new album?
It’s my debut album and is called 77. It includes some of the first songs I wrote when I started out as well as some recent ones and a couple of songs written by someone else. The album varies in styles, tempos and rhythms. I had the pleasure of working with some great musicians and spent a lot of time recording at home with engineer Dave Mclean experimenting with the songs. This album is who I am and I’d say it represents me well. I’m very proud of it and feel it’s the best work I could do at this point in my career.
Having heard a lot of it I’d say it’s something to be very proud of. So what does the rest of year and beyond look like for Sean C Kennedy?
I’m going to record some more videos to match the songs from the album and play as many shows as I can. I’ve started writing again already and I’m feeling excited by the second record. Maybe I’ll release it next year….why not!
Do you have a message for your ever growing army fans from around the world?
A huge thanks for the continued support. You give me a reason to keep doing what I love. Thanks!!
Thank you Sean, you’ve been amazing!