Darren Kiely | 5 Minutes With

Irish pop/folk artist Darren Kiely delivers a plea for guidance in his latest single ‘Say I‘, as he mirrors the feeling of being adrift in a sea of self-doubt. Through jangly acoustic guitars, raw, echoing vocals and upbeat percussion Kiely offers a stunning, organic tune that feels refreshingly uplifting despite the song’s more sombre narrative. 

Hinting towards what’s yet to come, Kiely shares, “Say I’ is a song for when you need reassurance that there is some light or goodness still inside of you. It’s a determinate cry for help from someone or something that can reaffirm the light inside of you. I wanted my fans to hear this next song as it sets the tone for the next batch of music I plan to release.”

As he embarks on a UK tour this month, Noctis Magazine spoke with Kiely about his new music, what audiences can expect from his live shows and his love of Jersey Boys the musical! 

Congratulations on the release of your newest track, ‘Say I’! You’ve mentioned that the track is a cry for help and reassurance. Could you share with us the inspiration behind this song and what it means to you personally?

I think it describes times where I’ve doubted myself and who I am as a person and that was a place I used to find myself returning to consistently for a long time when I was growing up. 

Your folk-infused pop sound is underpinned by captivating, storytelling lyrics. Can you tell us more about your songwriting process and how you brave being so honest in your lyrics?

The process varies. I usually like to feel something musically and let that dictate what I’m going to write about. Sometimes I bring these ideas to other writers when I’m Nashville and they have been a huge help in allowing me to flesh out the ideas and elevate the songs

Your upbringing in the Irish countryside often influences your sound. How do you incorporate this into your sound and are there any local artists that also inspire you?

I don’t think it’s something I try to incorporate, I feel like it’s something that is part of me and the music I try to make. I love Damien Rice and Bell x1 but to be honest there are loads of Irish artists I love. There’s an honesty to so much of what is made that I’m drawn to. 

‘Say I’ is supposed to set the tone for your upcoming releases. Can you give us a hint of what is yet to come?

I feel the upcoming releases have more of an edge and rawness to them than what I have done previously. The songs are for the most part, darker and less hopeful than previous releases.

You have an impressive lineup of live shows ahead, including performances at The Great Escape festival and a headline gig in London. How do you prepare for these live performances, and do you have any pre-show rituals?

I will have a few days before the London gig where I will practice with my band and London will be the first time I’ve played with a band so that will be exciting. Pre-show it’s just hot water and honey and some vocal warm ups which will be my savior with the amount of shows on this next run

You’re going to be accompanying Mat Kearney on the HEADLIGHTS HOME TOUR this autumn. What can audiences expect to see from your live show?

I think audiences can expect a raw and energetic show. I will have my band with me so I hope it to still maintain a level of intimacy with moments for people who might or might not know my music

What would you say has been your biggest challenge in the music industry so far and what tips do you have for other artists who may be facing similar hurdles?

I think the initial transition into doing music full time was tricky. At that time for me, everything was so new and I really didn’t understand a lot about the music industry. Keeping people you can trust and have always been a good soundboard for you around is huge in trying to navigate this time I think.

What message or feeling do you hope listeners take away from ‘Say I’?

That it’s ok to question yourself and sit in doubt at times and that there are more people in those moments than you would think. 

Music aside, what’s something about Darren Kiely that fans might be surprised to learn?

I’ve seen the broadway musical Jersey Boys 4 times

Follow Darren Kiely on Instagram

Words: Alexander Williams