April Keen is a nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter from Blackpool, currently living in London. Having started out covering artists such as The 1975 and Bastille, April released her first original EP, Solace, back in 2014. Her most recent single, ‘Against the Tide’, was released in May, and she plans to continue recording new music throughout 2017. We caught up with her to talk inspiration, opportunities, and new influences.
You’ve achieved a lot at a young age. Could you tell us a bit about how you’ve got to this point in your career?
I only really started singing when I was sixteen, after I started writing – I began by performing at open mic nights around Manchester and Blackpool. I then put my music out online, and people seemed to like it. Now I’ve moved to London, I think that’s a big help – especially when I already have some experience of performing live behind me. I found out about Coffee House Sessions (CHS) through Joe Dolman, who went on the tour a few months ago (I’m going to be supporting him at his London headline show in March). I was asking him about gigging around London, and he mentioned CHS – it sounded really fun, so I just dropped them an email and went from there!
How would you describe your music?
I think of it as alternative folk; my music isn’t so acoustic anymore. It started out that way, but it’s definitely got a lot more electronic influences now – I listen to artists like Daughter and London Grammar a lot. Lyrically, I’m also influenced by Gabrielle Aplin; she’s amazing, and I love her melodies.
What would you say is the best way to get inspired while trying to write a song?
I think you should step outside your comfort zone, and do something you’ve never done before to make new memories. Just sitting down and reflecting sometimes can be helpful too. I started writing a journal when I moved to London, and if I’m feeling uninspired I can just read that and think ‘wow, that actually happened!’ It’s easy to forget how many interesting things happen in your life – but if you write it all down, sometimes the lyrics just come!
What was the first gig you ever went to?
I think I went to see Christina Aguilera when I was about seven. But the first gig I properly remember is Justin Bieber! [laughs] He was touring the Philippines, and my friend had VIP tickets. She rang me and asked if I wanted to come to the Philippines to see the show (I was living in Qatar in the Middle East at the time), so I went along.
For you, what’s the best and worst part of being a musician?
The best part about it is being able to act on your passion – it doesn’t feel like a normal job. Music can help other people as well – it’s amazing when fans come up and tell you that your songs helped them through a tough time, or even just relaxed them at the end of a hard day. So it’s really rewarding in that sense.
I’d say the most difficult part of the job is getting people to listen to you when you’re performing your own music all the time. People will often sing along to something they already know, but they won’t always pay attention to new stuff. Also, London isn’t the cheapest place in the world, so I guess surviving can be a bit of a struggle!
Where can fans find your music?
Do you have any advice for other young up-and-coming musicians?
Get yourself out there; for me, it was playing at open mic nights and seeing how people responded that made me realise that this was something I could do. I think some artists need a little bit of a push to pursue music, and playing live can provide that confidence boost. Most importantly, enjoy it – you’re doing something you love!