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DUKE KEATS

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW COVENTRY BAND DUKE KEATS

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

I’ve always been surrounded by music and art, at an early age my parents both had unique styles and tastes in music. My dad was interested in all things classical and prog rock and my mum was into RNB and pop, I think listening to a variety of musicians I believed early on that I wanted to have my own music, style and world if everyone else had their own too 

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

As an artist, I’ve supported acts such as Ichiko Aoba, Her’s, Penelope Isles, Kansas Smitty’s, FEET, Marker Starling and alongside the legendary Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab on the track ‘Waiting For Grace’. My latest show was a headline performance at Godiva Festival and on the BBC CWR stage at the festival. Sofar Sounds at Coventry Cathedral and renovated Prince’s trust building Draper’s Hall with Jazz collective Kansas Smitty’. 

I also created the score for the UK fashion brand Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY AW21 collection film ‘GLOOM’ Directed by Fashion Photographer Thurstan Redding.

I’ve had different formations of my backing band over the years but the current line up in the band has been the most crucial as it consists of all my best friends. I have George Tuson on drums, Georgia Clark on sax & Keys, Liam Tweedie on bass & Michael Evans on rhythm Guitar. 

Name me your 3 favorite Albums?

Off the top of my head… 

Purple Rain – Prince, Portishead – Portishead & Aladdin Sane – David Bowie 

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

I remember having to do my brother’s chores to borrow his MP3 for the rest of the day- once I got it, I would play on repeat Space Oddity by David Bowie. I think hearing music with so much depth and texture and story behind it really got me thinking about how I could make my own. 

The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?

I feel I’m doing great, slow and steady wins the race. We just dropped our latest EP ‘Dirty Glamour’ which has been received really well by blogs and radio. It’s all a learning curve. I’ve been signed and worked with some professional artists & venues. I’ve been in every part of the industry, at the label, designing covers, posters, and material, backing vocalist and guitar player on tour. I’ve had my music featured on a global platform multiple times. Currently, my music, creations, and branding have been received incredibly well and I hope it only gets bigger from now on but it is a hard industry to master if you aren’t accepted easily. 

I’m seeing a lot of debate about women not feeling safe at music gigs, any thoughts on what we need to do to help?

It’s horrifying to hear in this day and age that anyone feels unsafe at a music gig. Mandatory training on all levels for promoters and venues on sexual assault response and safety. More age restrictions on gigs with explicit content and they could develop a free app attached to each venue for not only women but anyone who feels unsafe at a gig to access. I’ve experienced this and it needs to stop.

As you develop as an artist and develop using socials what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?

Find your niche and focus on it, the same goes for businesses online or illustrators and things. Find out what you love and don’t hold back or any away from your personality. I’ve always been told to have a strong identity online as well. 

What’s your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?

 I think things need to change drastically. We need more pay for artists, the percentage for a stream is incredibly low. I think like Facebook, over time there will come a new streaming platform competitor which will shake the landscape but until then Spotify needs to give back more to the artists. If it is dominating the industry then it should do more to give back and support the artists and fans that fuel it’s service. 

Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?

Yeah pretty much all of them, if I could I would be a writer for the x-files. I’m definitely the Mulder of the music industry. I’m sure I once saw a conspiracy that Elvis was alive and living in an underground bunker. Can you imagine! 

What was the worst experience on stage?

If I’m honest I’ve been quite lucky in having no bad experiences on stage so far in my career but I’ve probably jinxed it now, oops!

What makes you stand out as a band/artist?

I believe we’re incredibly theatrical and cinematic, I think we bring a certain visual quality to our performance which translates through the music. 

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

Dirty Glamour’ is the culmination of a year of growth, performing and honing in our craft as performers spending a year playing live around the UK. The EP is the style and mindset in which I base my characters, worlds and ethos. It was recorded live at our favourite venue in Coventry, The Tin! 

Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s. 

The songs are based around the underbelly of the seedy Hollywood circuit. Its sound palette includes elements of alt rock, art rock, neo-psychedelia, noise rock, garage rock, funk & jazz and progressive rock. The dirty and glamorous nature of fame and money and success globally. The sacrifices and changes we make and things we do for celebrity. I’ve always had an interest in old Hollywood actors, cinema, animation and the industry system as of today, with the current decline of Hollywood and celebrity status due to social media and the oversaturated landscape. ‘Dirty Glamour’ seeks to embody sonically and musically the Americana and the ‘myth land’ of LA that infuses the minds of native UK residents. The live nature of these versions of the songs on the EP reinforces the dirty and lofi nature of the album and instrumentation. 

What was the recording process like?

We performed a show in partnership with BBC introducing last Christmas at The Tin in Coventry, we played our hearts out ! We were told the set would be recorded but we weren’t sure if we would get the recordings. Ian Whitehead and Nina Mclean Ellmann finished the mastering and mixing process and handed over the tracks. I thought it was necessary we released them as they encapsulated a whole time period for me.

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

We just introduced a new guitar player, Michael Evans. It would have been nice to have had him in the new tracks, but there’s plenty of time for us to possibly remix! 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world? I’m currently working on my next release, it’ll be more of a studio-recorded album instead of live recorded. I’ll be focusing more on my influences and the story I would like to tell through my music. We’re also going to be looking at performing further afield to broaden our fanbase. One more thing, thank you RGM for everything!

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