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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 28 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

CBC Searchlight 2014: Is Keats Conlon Canada’s Best New Artist?

The CBC—Canada’s government funded public radio and television media giant – is determined to bring Canadian content to us, as Canadians and part of that task, for them at least, is digging through the Canada’s crop of aspiring talent to find a handful of people who deserve to be on the radio in their Searchlight 2014 contest, so tag-lined as “The Search for Canada’s Best New Artist”.

As a fan of the Idol franchise on both sides of the border, as well as other similar reality shows like The Voice and X Factor, I’m always interested in finding new musical talent, especially Canadian talent now that Canadian Idol itself has gone the way of the dinosaurs. That’s why I thought I’d take a look at all the talent on the website and see what stood out before placing a few votes.

Keats Conlon performing at Taloola in Windsor, ON (Photo Credit: CBC Music)

So, as a way in to the contest, I thought I’d spotlight one of the artists from my hometown of Toronto and interview her about the contest and her musical aspirations.

Today I’m joined by Keats Conlon, who cites both old (the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell) and new (The Black Keys, Regina Spektor, Iron and Wine) influences in her artist profile. Naturally, I was intrigued by how those influences would come together in a coherent whole and as I listen to the various tracks she had uploaded to her profile on the CBC website I felt the same vibe.  “The Garden“, the song that she entered in the contest and the one which plays when you first open her profile, channels the sweet-and-sour vocals of Joni Mitchell and Regina Spektor, two songstresses who seek to tell stories beyond the few minutes of the song. “Attempted Love Song“, is another favourite of mine because it’s upbeat and cheeky in a way that a handful of my favourite female artists (like Colbie Caillat) are.

So I thought, what better way to get to know Keats than to interview her as a way to get me invested in CBC’s Searchlight competition and showcase the interesting people behind the music.

The Hudsucker: What got you interested in music in the first place?
Keats Conlon: I’ve been passionate about music for about as long as I can remember. I used to sing melodies before I could talk properly. Although I didn’t really envision it as a career until I was about 16. I wrote a song called “Don’t Let Go” before I really considered myself a writer and I got some really good feedback about it. My cousin helped me record it and then my mom submitted it to a Windsor artist compilation CD being made at the time called “The W”. I ended up getting my song on it and having a few shows stem from it, as well as meeting some local artists who have helped me enormously over the years. Having that taste of musical success made me consider it for the first time as a viable career for myself.

The Hudsucker: What made you want to enter the CBC Searchlight Contest?
Keats: I entered it last year on the advice of a fellow musician also participating in it. I found it to be a great way to get some radio play and reach out to a larger audience. It was also a great way to find other local musicians to network with. Because of all these things I decided to give it another shot this year.

The Hudsucker: Tell us the inspiration behind some of the songs you have posted in your profile.
Keats: I generally don’t like talking about the inspiration for the song I entered (“The Garden”) mainly because everyone I talk to seems to get something different out of it and I don’t wanna ruin new interpretations by putting in my own. Probably the most interesting inspiration for any of the songs I have posted was my song “Attempted Love Song”. I wrote it quite a few years back now, when I was still fairly new to writing songs. A lot of my songs up until that point had been sad love stories or not about love at all. Being the teenage girl that I was, I was angry at myself for not having written any love songs. So I wrote “Attempted Love Song” purely out of frustration of not being able to write love songs.

The Hudsucker: Would you ever audition for a show like American Idol, The Voice or X Factor? (Or one but not the other) Why or why not?
Keats: I have considered auditioning for those kinds of shows and even looked into it. Unfortunately you have to be an American citizen to audition for most of them and they don’t have a lot of Canadian counterparts. I’ve also always been a little hesitant because if you win those kinds of shows or even get further in you get signed onto a contract to do songs and concerts specifically for that show for at least the next couple years and I prefer doing my own stuff. Another reason is I probably wouldn’t even get very far in those kinds of contests. They are all about your voice and personality, and while I think I am okay in both of those departments my main talent (or at least how I see myself) is my writing. So I wouldn’t make it very far in a competition that focuses almost exclusively on the quality of your voice.

The Hudsucker: What’s the best and worst part about making a living in music so far?
Keats: The best and worst parts about making a living with my music are pretty predictable I feel but no less true. The best part is definitely hands down the music. I get to do what I love for a living, how many people can say that? I get to have fun writing, performing, just generally having a good time. And the worst part is of course, at least at this point, I’m definitely not making enough to make it my living. I’m lucky if I get paid for a gig at all let alone well. It’s a nice little cushion for my income but I’m not quite at the point where I can give up my day job unfortunately.

The Hudsucker: What’s the best advice someone has given you about being in the music industry?
Keats: I’ve gotten a lot of advice over the years about being in the music industry. Ever since I first dipped my toe in people have been very encouraging and helpful which I feel very thankful for. I think the best advice I ever got was actually from my dad. He told me I can only depend on my talent to get me so far. Nothing will happen if I don’t also work hard and be fearless. To me that is the most important thing to remember in the industry.

The Hudsucker: What music is on high rotation for you right now?
Keats: I like to listen to a wide range of musical genres so it changes pretty much day to day. Although recently I’ve been very into The Civil Wars. And Jet, where ever my music tastes go I’m almost always also listening to Jet.

The Hudsucker: What are some classic albums or songs that you just can’t live without?
Keats: “Take Off Your Pants And Jacket” by Blink 182, “Soviet Kitsch” by Regina Spektor, “Get Born” by Jet, “Revolver” by The Beatles, and “Ladies of The Canyon” by Joni Mitchell.

The Hudsucker: If you could work with anyone in the music business (alive or dead, musician, writer, producer or otherwise) who would it be?
Keats: If I could work with anyone else in the industry, this is such a silly one, there are so many people who would be better to help my career and stuff, but it would be Michael Bublé. He’s not my favourite musician and his general style of music is not my favourite, but I love his voice so so so much and would just love a chance to sing a duet with him just once in my life.

The Hudsucker: Other than music, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Keats: I’m pretty boring in my spare time. I like the usual stuff: video games, reading, way more television shows than I should ever have watched (thanks Netflix), and probably my only interesting or weird hobby is Dungeons and Dragons. It’s probably one of my favourite things in the whole world.

The Hudsucker: Anything else we should know about you as a musician or as a person?
Keats: Not much, I love music, I love writing, I love perogies, and I’d love if you’d vote for me in the Searchlight contest!

You can listen to Keats’ music and vote for her here. Scroll down to the “participating artist” logo and click the box under there once you’re signed in to the CBC website and check out all the other artists participating in the contest by clicking here. Voting in the first round closes Sunday April 6th.

Connect with Keats on TwitterFacebookYoutube, TumblrBandcamp and her official website where you can find more information about Keats Conlon and order her music.

Keat Conlon’s Sophomore Album Cover “Like The Poet” available on her Bandcamp. (Photo Credit: Keats Conlon)

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