With a burning heart, a searing voice and explosive choruses, KEIR is not afraid to play with fire. At 25 years old, the singer-songwriter displays a bright mind and a dark soul, nourished on heartache, Weltschmerz and decades of pop-music history – ready to spit it all back out into the future like fuel on a flame.
KEIR may stand on the shoulders of soul divas and rock gods, but his craft shows no sense of retro fetishism. This is what the blues sounds like in the 21st century, and there’s barely a trace of those worn-out, 12-bar formulas. Instead, KEIR offers simultaneously a distillation and an innovation of that musical ritual: transforming inner turmoil into a tune – not to spread misery but to exorcize demons, and in the best case, incite compassion. The first single “Shiver” is a shining example, a seductive groove that shudders with red-hot, angst-ridden sensuality.
Musically, there’s enough mass that you start to feel a gravitational pull, and in lyrical tandem, KEIR reveals a heavy heart. But there’s nothing heavy-handed about his words – piercingly sharp when needed, yet bold enough to stay soft. Always honest but often ambiguous, like a painting made of poetry. Ambitious melodies that reach for the radio; a sonic rawness he’s unwilling to tame for the sake of pop appeal.
With his younger brother Kyle on drums, KEIR began his eponymous project as a duo. While attending college in Bristol, he found he had trouble with authority. “I didn’t want to know about music theory,” he recalls. “That’s when a song becomes incredibly dull.” Most of his progress was made outside of the classroom, not simply studying music but living it: in the studio, on the stage and in his sleep. Making music is what he does, and when he doesn’t know what to do with himself, he makes music.
KEIR has mastered the art of vocal expression and surrounds himself with equally talented musicians. “I have too much self-loathing to work alone,” he says. In the writing process, KEIR doesn’t sweat any lack of proficiency. “I learned to write songs by not knowing how to play chords,” he explains. His perspiration, rather, comes from a primal approach: a typical session might mean getting holed up in a room, shouting at each other, getting naked and pounding on the piano.
The further production process, however, places emotions and timbres in perfect alignment. Unhinged, yet exacting: it’s a combination that works not just in the studio but in a concert setting too. KEIR and his band have wowed audiences throughout the UK and Europe, including a tour with The Drums and, notably, the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, where as an unknown act he won a standing ovation.
KEIR’s creations are neither middle-of-the-road nor left-field, neither over-polished nor DIY – or perhaps a little bit of both. Or neither. Whatever the case, KEIR is consumed by music, and in turn, his music is ready to consume you.