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Andrew Keoghan, a New Zealand native, is bringing back the ‘80s dance scene–and we mean the best parts of it!
He has perfected the use of synths, beats, keys, and combined them to create sounds that can be related to the likes of David Bowie, New Order, or Depeche Mode. His lyrics are inspired by happenstance and his surroundings—which he has a lot to draw from since he’s not only lived in New Zealand, but also New York City and, currently, L.A.
Keoghan tells BTRtoday that he wrote half of his soon-to-be-released album, “Every Orchid Offering,” in Brooklyn, NY, and the other half isolated on a beautiful black sand beach in a wild part of New Zealand. He claims the consistent sound can be considered to uphold a sort of ‘80s club scene vibe, but mostly he wanted to encompass the theme of being true to yourself and proud of it.
He explains the admiration he has for individuals, like transgender people, who suffer through all the crushing societal “norms,” and yet are still able to prevail. The music video recently released for his track “Queues at Dani Keys,” specifically hones in on that theme. Keoghan played both the male and female parts in the video and did not slack on any of the aesthetics; you’ll just have to watch it to understand. It’s full of dreamy ‘80s inspired scenes with colored smoke and mirror boxes with flashing lights.
Check out his website and make sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see what he’s cookin’ up. He’s also playing his record release show July 30th at Rough Trade, so if you’re in NYC you’re not going to want to miss out!
BTRtoday (BTR): Tell me about your single “Queues at Dani Keys.”
Andrew Keoghan (AK): The song is about the pills of big city ambition and how absolutely destructive that can be sometimes for people. “Queues at Dani Keys” is actually the name of a fictional nightclub that is this weird hub of keeping up appearances and façades being showcased. So in the video, there is the one who is always on his cellphone, he’s the older suit and tie guy that you will sometimes see sneaking young women into the side door of this nightclub while you queue outside, that sort of heterosexual man you love to hate.
BTR: So in the video you play that man, but you also play the women. Can you tell me about her?
AK: The girl looks like my sister, because it’s me. One of the themes of the album is the admiration for people who are proud in spite of this prevailing pressure that society has for people to conform. So when Punk Murphy, the director, and I talked about the theme, one of the things we talked about was my admiration for people like transgender people who are out there being proud and representing. So, when we talked about it, it was like, ‘if I am going to dress up like a woman, to celebrate this theme, let’s not do it in that sort of larrikin, hairy legs, hairy chest, and stubble, kind of way. That is kind of a mockery and probably already makes people feel like an outcast if they do cross-dress.’
My mission was to look as beautiful as I possibly could, which was not easy. [Laughs]. The end result was, actually, I ended up kind of looking like my sister from a distance. She wouldn’t mind me saying that. She was shocked, she was like, ‘(gasp) you look like me!’
BTR: That video is great. What inspired the lyrics?
AK: Well actually, the line, ‘surely you must know Jeremy,’ came out of a party a friend and I attended, a pretty bougie, swanky one, where my friend was constantly being asked if he knew this person named Jeremy—like if knowing Jeremy was some kind of right of passage and a way to get ahead in this world. He had to sort of say, ‘look, I’m sorry. I don’t know Jeremy, and I hope that we can still talk…’ Then I started getting asked if I knew Jeremy. So, it was just one of those things that came about and got me thinking about those situations where one little thing can make people feel inadequate, I think it’s a shame and really unnecessary.
BTR: Well, who the hell is Jeremy?
AK: He’s actually a very talented person in New Zealand and he’d probably be appalled if he knew his name was being thrown about in this way. He’s very careful and makes really good work.
BTR: Tell me a little about the creative process used for this album coming out later this month, “Every Orchid Offering.”
AK: About half of the album I wrote during a two-month period of isolation on a very wild and beautiful black sand beach called Piha in New Zealand. It was very near to where a gorgeous independent film called “The Piano” was made—seeing that film would give you an idea about how wild and rugged and isolated that part of New Zealand is.
Around that time, I was about to move to NYC and was thinking a lot about the next few years ahead. I had friends settling down, buying houses, having children, getting married, and here I was in my early 30s contemplating this quite major move across to the other side of the world and questioning whether or not it was the right time to do that, or whether I should be thinking about some other choices. So, I guess you can say I was in somewhat of a state of flux—a very transient period of my life. The next two or three years was sort of like that as well, where I was coming back and forth from NYC back to New Zealand.
The other half of the album I wrote in Brooklyn, a lot of it in Bed-Stuy, where I was living. So that part of the album is very much about acclimatizing to NYC and trying to make sense of this behemoth of a city and finding my way around.
BTR: What’s the meaning behind the album title, “Every Orchid Offering?”
AK: I had seen a poster advertising a comeback concert by a well-known high-profile musician. I could see from the poster that it was quite obvious he had found God. It got me thinking about his predicament; he’s a man who had womanized his way through his youth and had been able to enjoy the adoration of a large fan base for such a long time, but yet here he was now on this sort of new path, and had obviously felt like he had to reconcile with his past. So, I was interested into why he felt like he had to reconcile with his past and that he now has his once rapid libido, now chained-in, as part of his new course and new direction he was on.
That got me on this songwriting direction that was about these choices we have around our desires, our obligations, our gender-roles, what we feel like what we should be doing, how our relationships can kind of fit in with all of that, and how we may be exposed to someone in our lives, where, like in this musician’s case, we spiritually feel the need to make space for in order to change course in life.
BTR: Tell me about this simple, yet amazing, album artwork.
AK: The artwork was designed by Tracy Maurice. She is a Canadian designer that lives in NYC. You may be familiar with some of her work; she designed the covers for Arcade Fire’s two albums “Neon Bible” and “Funeral.” We talked about this notion of the big city façade. So, she came up with the transparent mannequin leg as representing the temptations, opportunities, and thrills of the big city, but also that kind of façade that it can present in terms of it just being transparent and see through, and our quest to find some sort of deeper connection with people somehow through that.
Album artwork courtesy of Tracy Maurice.
BTR: Has growing up in New Zealand influenced your song writing?
AK: I mean, New Zealand now is a very different place from what it was. Even though it’s in the corner of the ends of the Earth, it’s very well connected and it’s a progressive country, socially and politically. Growing up however, there’s still so much space, so it’s possible to go totally remote, to isolate yourself, and find space to do work, and that’s what happened to me.
I had a couple of months on my own to write the album, so it’s hard to say exactly how New Zealand influenced me. I don’t know, I just think that subconsciously, that feeling of being alone a long, long ways away sure plays into what some of us are making. Then it’s interesting when we travel, because we’re then exposed to a whole bunch of new things, when we move to big cosmopolitan cities, like NYC.