CATCHING UP WITH DANA MCKEON
It’s hard to believe it’s less than three years since young Maltese singer-songwriter Dana McKeon moved to London to pursue a career in music. Immersing herself in her work, she has successfully secured a place for herself among the world’s top beatboxers as well as establishing a regular presence within the British capital’s live circuit, where besides gigging she also hosts a weekly open mic night in Camden. MICHAEL BUGEJA recently spoke to DANA MCKEON following the release of her dance track Circles with UK DJ Pioneer, which has been embraced by radio stations and club DJs and could well boost the Maltese artist’s career even further.
Following the release of your Street Art EP and music video earlier this year, what has the general feedback been locally and in the UK?
The feedback’s been overwhelming. I never expected my debut release to gain such traction and airplay time both locally and overseas. The positive response to my EP and music video has served as a huge boost both in terms of motivation and opening new doors in the music world. I’m really grateful to everyone who’s shown their support for what I do!
I’m guessing music keeps you busy on many fronts; how do you manage to juggle writing new music with running music nights and gigging?
It’s very challenging to try and keep up with all the different aspects of my music career, but it’s manageable with a healthy dose of dedication and self-discipline. Sometimes things seem to start getting out of hand, but eventually they always fall into place. You’ve just got to have faith that hard work reaps good results and everything happens for a reason.
So how’s the beatboxing coming along, and how hard is it to develop new beats and sounds to keep your act fresh and flowing?
Beatboxing is the kind of skill that just keeps developing and bringing along new challenges with each passing day. As with song-writing, you can get a block from time to time, but by listening to lots of different styles of music on a regular basis and putting in enough practice, I can keep coming up with new ideas to improve my technique.
I recently spotted you in a new advert for Pepsi Max…how did you get to be involved?
It all really boils down to keeping active on the scene and trying to make an impact with each and every performance. I was offered the spot through a recommendation based on my live show reputation and it meant a lot to be selected as part of such a huge campaign. It was a nice surprise to see the video going viral, which is a new milestone in my career; also, the feedback I’ve received from that feature has led to even more opportunities!
You recently released Circles in collaboration with KISS FM UK’s DJ Pioneer…how did that collaboration happen, how different did it feel given it’s outside your normal style and what’s your reaction to the rather positive performance of the song so far?
I was introduced to DJ Pioneer through a gig promoter in London who had been following my music for a while. DJ Pioneer is one of the UK’s most renowned House music specialists and was looking for a singer-songwriter to feature on a new track to be released under his label. I was asked to write to an instrumental track he had produced together with his co-producer, TJ, and the rest is history.
It was a different writing experience to what I’m used to, but it paved the way for lots of collaborations and I’m now writing and featuring on various styles of music other than my solo material. We’re chuffed at the great response that the song has had so far, and I couldn’t believe it when it was featured on MTV UK and Rio Ferdinand’s #5 Magazine!
Last but not least, what else is planned in the near future?
Well, I’ll be in Malta this week to perform at the 2014 Malta Tattoo Expo. After that I should have some new material coming out soon and a couple more collaborations on the way. I can’t give away much for now, but I’m really excited about what’s in store. Stay tuned at www.danamckeon.com!
Photo by Paris Arrowsmith