keelan donovan

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Keelan Donovan

Keelan Donovan is a singer-songwriter with the power to hook anyone in with his charismatic persona, infectious melodies and captivating lyrics.

The Portland native now resides in Nashville, which allows him to fully immerse himself in the music scene. Keelan’s work ethic is second to none – 2014/2015 saw him play over 400 shows across the globe. His hard graft, combined with extraordinary talent, caught the attention of several A&R reps, which led to him signing with Big Yellow Dog Music in 2016.

In less than a week, Keelan will be releasing his self-titled EP. Produced by Daniel Tashian and Dan Agee, the EP is a small collection of songs from the heart which we can all relate to. His passion for music and life is evident and we’re sure that you’ll be as blown away by his EP as we were.

We recently spoke to Keelan Donovan about his new self-titled EP, the effect of Nashville on his songwriting and creativity, and much more.

keelan donovan

Hi Keelan! Thanks for answering our questions today – how has 2017 been treating you so far?

Of course! Thank you for listening to me talk about myself!! 2017 has been great. If you asked me two years ago if any of this would be happening, I would have laughed. But I can’t be more grateful for the opportunities.

You’re about to release your self-titled EP. How are you feeling ahead of its release?

I’m so excited. It is set to release on June 2, a date I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It’s been about two years since I’ve put anything out, so I’m anxious to hear what people think. I’m so used to playing my songs by myself on an acoustic guitar, and that’s what people who have seen me live know me as. I think this record opens the door to a much broader & bigger sound, which means a broader & bigger audience…right? Insert fingers crossed emoji ;)

What can you tell us about the EP and the inspiration behind it?

When I sat down with my team to listen to the EP for the first time, I think we all came to the conclusion that the underlying tone was a message of hope. The goal was to have each song, in it’s own way, show the listener that “we’re all in this together.” In all reality, no one really knows what is going on. Every person has their own story and their own difficulties to work through. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that there’s a hand to hold or a phone to pick up.

We know you’ll be proud of every song, but do you have a favourite track? ‘Everything Beautiful’ is ours!

Thank you!! I love ‘Everything Beautiful’ so much. I wrote that with my good friend Alexi von Guggenberg out of the DC area. He’s an incredible talent and I’m grateful every time I walk into his studio.

Honestly, I don’t know if I have a favorite track on the EP. I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for, but I really do feel so connected to all of the songs. I will say the tune that I am really enjoying playing out at my shows right now is ‘In Arms Reach’. The chorus feels so big to me and the lyrics hit you in the face right from the beginning…in a good way. It also has been on full rotation on SiriusXM The Pulse pretty recently! So cool.

You currently reside in Nashville – known for being the country musical capital. What effect has Nashville had on your songwriting and creativity?

It’s a pretty rad city, right? I think Nashville used to be known as the country music capital, but now it’s just the “music capital.” Obviously some great country music comes out of here and I don’t think that will ever stop, but the scene has evolved in a really eclectic and refreshing way. All of the music industry comes through Nashville these days. It’s fun just to be a part of it.

Last year I signed with Big Yellow Dog Music and I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to be able to work with some of my “heroes.” It feels like each writer/producer has their genius way to take the songs to the next level. Very inspiring, to say the least. It’s a thrill to wake up every day knowing that I get to create with them.

Which artists are you listening to at the moment?

There’s too many to name. I just got out of my car, where I was listening to the local classical music station, and after this interview I’ll probably turn on one of the Dawes records. I guess my taste changes with the mood I’m in. I study the lyrics in David Ramirez and Jason Isbell records. I love working out to Lil Wayne or some rock n’ roll band, and I clean my bedroom listening to Frank Sinatra.

Your songs have had placement on a number of TV shows, including ‘Nashville’. What does it feel like to hear your own music on TV?

It’s a pretty amazing thing when someone puts my music behind a scene. Whether it’s the show ‘Nashville’ or a movie trailer, the fact that someone is taking my melody/words & putting it to their own interpretation on screen only validates this dream. Isn’t that the point really? To get people to interpret the songs in their own way? So cool.

You’ve already performed an insane amount of shows during your career. What do you like most about being on the road?

I know it’s pretty crazy. I worked room service at a hotel for a few years after college, and when I quit that, I hit the road full time. In 2014 & ’15 I think I played over 400 shows. The best part about touring is meeting folks from different areas. You learn so many stories from so many different families. It’s a super inspiring thing, and to have them all connect with the music? That’s just icing on the cake.

From all the shows you’ve done in the past, is there one which stands out as the most memorable for you?

They’re all so fun. I still get so excited to plug in every night. I think the most memorable would probably be a night in Greensboro, NC last year where I played with the southern rock band American Aquarium. I’ve been following them for years, and have been inspired by their “troubadour-ic” [is that a word? It is now.] ways. They just always seem to be on the road, singing their songs. I love road-dogs like that. I can really relate to the struggles, pains & excitement of their jobs.

What do you hope that people will take away from your music?

I mean like I said earlier, I think the most important thing that I hope people take away from my music, is that “we’re all in this together.” There’s no way around it! Life’s really difficult and we all have jobs and we all struggle in our own ways. Don’t make excuses, work hard, and be kind. Let’s be friends.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

Apparently according to the internet, I have a lot of Netflix/HBO shows to catch up on. Every day there’s a new thing we’re supposed to be watching. Remember when SURVIVOR was the best show on TV? Take me back to those days. Musically, I have a lot. Obviously the new music on June 2. With that, will be new YouTube videos, touring, and more online content. I’m really trying to focus this year on making more YouTube content…right now I think I have around 150k views, which is ridiculous to me. I would love to see my channel become more of a social media site, than anything else. On top of my own stuff, I have been writing a lot for other artists. So keep an eye out on my socials, where I’ll promote some tunes cut by other artists. The wheels are moving – I can’t wait for the next 12 months.

Thank you to Keelan for his time. Be sure to support his self-titled EP on June 2.

For the latest goings on in Keelan’s world, check out his social media pages: InstagramTwitterFacebookYouTube and Official Site.

Let us know your thoughts on Keelan Donovan on Twitter @CelebMix

Featured image: Kate York

Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina
Email: katrinanaomirees@gmail.com