Seeing and hearing are two very (obviously) different phenomenons, with their own awful entanglements. Our eyes drink in surroundings and we contextualize what is important. Although we can close them to keep out the evil things, often the real problem is that these evil things spring from our own imagination. Hearing is even worse—there are no eyelids for the ears. This only means however, the ability to hear beauty is inescapable, pervasive, and dangerous. An overabundance of sensory impulses translates frequently to feeling just too damn much. This is an experience London singer-songwriter Keaton Henson is familiar with. The only way to dispose or siphon off emotion is through art; in Keaton's case, art that is susceptible to eyes and ears.
Keaton Henson is both a musician and a graphic illustrator - both media capitalize on the realest sense of fragility. In black and white or making use of color sparingly, Keaton crafts scenes and worlds of discombobulation and alienation—the main characters human or some mutated form of them. The lines run through his drawings with impeccable detail, frenzied, tense, and are overall immaculately engaging.
His music strikes on a similar level of sentimentality, yet of a different and more immediate facet. Keaton originally recorded the collection of songs that would become his first album Dear as a gift for his best friend in his bedroom. No one else was to hear the songs, but after some serious goading by this same friend, (wise girl) he posted a few songs online. We all know how the Internet gobbles up a lot of unworthy consumables, but in this instance, the digital public was spot-on. After tremendous responses, Keaton self-released Dear. Without management, press or radio play he sold nearly 4000 copies of his first self-released record, and received more than 55,000 views of the video for "You Don't Know How Lucky You Are."
The self is laid cleanly bare. Following a heavy dosage of heartbreak, his voice trembles and arcs around bare bones guitar and sparse instruments. While not necessarily upbeat, the album trails the listener through troughs, peaks, and valleys of emotion.
Keaton is not a typical musician; he hates playing live shows, doesn't much like talking about himself, and is content to stay inside and write songs. He doesn't need or want the public eye, but apparently it will swivel disgustingly upon him regardless. I could blame history or any number of movements but the reality remains that modern-day human demand answers. We feel that we have the right to know everything, we want to know where images and sounds come from. Keaton Henson, a monumentally talented being, through his reclusive nature, confirms just how much better off we are when we don't know.
Keaton responded to a number of my questions, not in the way you'd expect.
"Privacy is an important thing. How does your work in a public sphere affect you?"
"Describe to me your songwriting process. Your lyrics are very heartbreaking and starkly honest."
"How would you describe the influence of childhood, a more innocent time upon your work?"
"If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?"
"If you didn't operate as an artist, how would you rather spend your time?"
"Musical influences strike from listening habits. Do you listen to any particular music that you feel changed how you approaching crafting songs?"