Déjà Rêvé - The new album from Kevin James Murphy/The Key Rocks
Tell us about yourself and your music
My name is Kevin James Murphy and I am an Irish 49-year-old who is passionate about music and supporting musicians. I have played music since I was quite young and have studied Piano, Guitar, Clarinet, Recorder and play a variety of other instruments. My ambition when young was to play music in a band and later on to become a sound engineer. However some parental “guidance” altered that and I ended up getting sidetracked by a university, global travel, and corporate life. I have spent the last 27 years traveling and working all over the globe and have frequently played gigs in pubs, bars, and other social and private settings.
About 7 – 8 years ago I started getting involved in some Fundit/Kickstarter campaigns where artists were seeking some support to release material and I have had the privilege to support and get to know great Irish artists such as The Pale, Niall McCabe, Shane Hennessy, Gorden Barry, Laura Elizabeth Hughes, Jack O’Rourke, Staring at Lakes, Rollin’ Empire, The Ronan Gallagher Band & Foreign Owl – most of whom have come and performed at a private mini-festival called “Bannowfest” that is held in Wexford, Ireland most years. As I started supporting artists I decided to get to know more about the full creative process from recording to release to promotion.
I initially released an experimental electronic music album under the moniker K J M in 2013 called Jelecate while living in Beijing using only an iMac and Garage Band and then learning how to release through CD Baby. Then over the following years as my confidence grew I started to record with Logic Pro as The Key Rocks and prepared some singles and then the first album “Love & Alcohol” and subsequently my second album “Déjà Rêvé”. Each time learning more about the recording, production mixing, mastering and releasing process so that I could be in a better place to understand musical artists needs and to be able to prove that in this crazy world where there is some much expectation on things being perfect, mad consumerism, and overproduction, that it is possible, without breaking the bank, to get your music out there globally with a little bit of focus and effort.
Talk to us more about your latest release
The latest album release is “Déjà Rêvé” off which I have released three leading singles over the past three months. The singles have been Falling to Ground, let’s see how it goes tonight and Show me Something. Each has been doing relatively well with streams and one in particular “Show me Something” was chosen to appear on the Spotify editorial playlist “A breath of fresh Eire” which features new emerging Irish music.
I have maintained a simple approach. Limited takes, trying to keep the recordings authentic, home-recorded with basic equipment, and with only a limited amount of overdubbed tracks. The songs are written from either a personal or an observational perspective and capture real moments or feelings that I have experienced or observed.
The artwork on the album cover was done by my 9-year-old daughter Nia – very proud !!
What inspired you to write this release?
After the first album, I felt that I had learned a lot more and wanted to continue to improve. But from a songwriting perspective and home recording perspective. The timing also helped as my wife and kids were home in Ireland for eight weeks so I used this time to rearrange the house and spend most evenings and weekends writing and recording. I also found that I had a lot of riffs emerging that I was capturing on my iPhone, which soon became memory full, so needed to record the tracks properly.
One other constant inspiration is the regular interactions that I have with some of the artists that I have got to know in Ireland. To hear their releases and the challenges they face as emerging musicians/artists.
Describe the writing and recording process
Generally, the process for me starts with the music – either on piano or guitar – where a riff emerges. This is then followed by a melody on top – and then the part with which I struggle the most . . . the lyrics !!! I never was great in English class . . . . I enjoy the process and really try to capture things fresh and as mentioned before with minimal takes even if there are a few little mistakes in there – as I find it authentic. Occasionally, with for example “Show me Something” – I wrote the entire tune and recorded it on the fly and it probably took no more than 2 hours altogether. Other tracks like The Line (acoustic) and Casanova (acoustic) are acoustic stripped-down re-releases of older tracks which I enjoyed.
Any plans to release a video?
Any plans to hit the road?
Unfortunately not. For several reasons. . . . . one is that I work in a different industry and am kinda fixed to one location. the other of course is COVID 19. . . . . I know from my musician friends in Ireland that one complete “bread and butter” side of the music industry – live performances – is dead right now and many musicians are struggling. Hopefully, the streaming side will pick up due to everybody being at home so that the artists can get some form of revenue.
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I try and stay true to the LoFi, not over-produced approach. I also spend a lot of time with MusicSubmit and SubmitHub trying to get traction with playlists and radio stations.
Who have you been listening to lately?
A lot of Irish:
David Keenan – an incredible musician emerging from Ireland
Fontains DC – best band in the world right now if you ask me
Niall McCabe, Gordon Barry (winner of the International Songwriter Competition a few years back), The Gloaming, Kila, Saint Motel, Kitt Philippa, Foy Vance, Bell X1
Also Aisha Badru, Ben Howard, Big Thief, Bob Moses, Counting Crows, AC/DC, Gary Clark Jr, Mogwai, Fugazi, Post Malone, Trent Renzor & Atticus Ross
With a sprinkle of old-time Classical and Blues on top
To name a few
Who are your biggest influences?
Counting Crows, David Grey, David Keenan, Staring at Lakes, to name a few but generally, I am influenced by all music from my initial classical training to full-on Blues, Rock and Roll, Jazz and all alternative music,
Tell us about your passions
I am passionate about music but also travel and culture. I have been fortunate enough to spend the last 27 years traveling and working all around the world and have had the opportunity to live, work and immerse myself in many countries and culture such as Japan, Israel/Palestine, Sudan, Egypt, Indonesia, China, Oman and presently Malaysia.
I am also passionate about my family – I have five kids between the ages of 13 and 3 . . . . that leads to my other passion which is staying fit so that I have the energy for the kids and that I can live a long and healthy life.
Finally Beer, I am passionate about Beer!
What else is happening next in your world?
We have been living in Malaysia for the past 3.5 years so it may be soon time for a relocation to another part of the world. There are obvious limitations at the moment with COVID 19 but hopefully, some restrictions will lift and make a move easy.
The past 6 weeks have been hard as we (parents, 5 kids, and an Irish family friend who was visiting) have been under a fairly strict lockdown in Malaysia. There has been limited to no possibility for the kids to leave the apartment except for a few minutes every other day. The kids all play music which has been a great source of escape but it has been hard.
So my immediate future is focused on embracing the first possible opportunity to take the kids somewhere so that they can feel free and be outside and swim and lap up nature and this beautiful world we live in.
Thanks for an awesome interview, [email protected]