Q&A: Declan McKenna

Declan McKenna talks music, soccer and the future of his music

March 7, 2016
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It's rare to find a teenage musician with a mature head on their shoulders these days, but it appears that with Grace Mitchell and Declan McKenna going back-to-back as The End's Discover & Download artists, we have struck gold two weeks in a row. English 17-year-old Declan McKenna is wise beyond his years, attempting something in his music that you might not expect from someone his age. 

In his single, Brazil, McKenna addresses what was a hotly discussed topic during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, corruption within world soccer and its leader, FIFA President Sepp Blatter. We got a chance to ask McKenna a few questions about his song, his process, football and what inspires his song-writing.
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The End: Brazil is a great track. What first inspired you to get involved in the conversation about corruption in world football using your music?

Declan McKenna: "I think it was just a Youtube video of someone talking about it that got me first thinking, once I was thinking about it it was something that was very apparent and obvious and it just managed to make its way into one of my songs like a lot of things do. The World Cup was all anyone was talking about at the time I wrote it so alongside that was me thinking about the bad side and it just... happened."

END: While we’re on the topic of soccer (we love soccer over here at The End), what teams do you call yourself a supporter of (if any)?

DM: Yeh I'm a fan of Tottenham, they're my local team.

END: Given that ‘Brazil’ has such a focus on one specific issue and other songs you play focus heavily on LGBT issues and police brutality how does your song-writing approach take shape?

DM: Generally I just write about what's in the news or what's going on in my life, sometimes neither sometimes both, but I have this thing which I've realized I do where I write from the perspective of a character involved in the topic and it's normally the bad guy (as in Brazil and Paracetamol) and then small parts are written as myself or as a narrator. Most songs just start with some kind of riff or melody and then I'll probably come up with a chorus that doesn't really mean anything, and over time it will just turn into a song about whatever it's about once I figure out what works and what I want to write the song about. How I write varies though, it's different for each track.

END: After winning the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition, it seems like your career has just been skyrocketing. How has this added attention affected you this early in your career?

DM: It's an odd one having Glastonbury seen as the start of your career when for many artists it's something they've built up to for years, so I'm massively lucky and grateful to have had the chance to play it so early on, and for so much attention, at least in an industry sense, to have arisen from it. Beforehand I was just writing songs and putting them out just because it's fun, now it's fun AND there's actually some people out there who want to hear it, and who want to come to shows! It's all I could really want as a musician, just making songs that people like and care about, and just enjoying doing it.

END: It sounds like you’re working on a new album. What can we expect from the record and what do you see as the next big step in your career?

DM: I guess it's going to be like a happy album for people who are angry at a lot of things, with lots of guitars and organs and melancholic dance tunes. I couldn't really say what my next big step is, I guess the music video for my next track is a big one? I think right now I'm going pretty steady, just keeping up what I'm doing, playing lots of shows and enjoying it, I think some cool big steps are gonna come the closer to an album I get, more tunes being released, more shows (and of course going to America!), all that stuff! It's all so exciting!

END: Thanks for your time! We truly appreciate it and are glad to have your song this week.

DM: Thank you for having me, glad you dig the tune too!