Ryan Keen has been making a name for himself on the live circuit thanks to his unique percussive guitar playing and ability to create an inimitable sound in the over-saturated acoustic singer-songwriter scene. Having toured the UK relentlessly over the past year, even playing guitar with his arm in a cast at one point, he is definitely one to watch. The Music Fix caught up with him to find out what’s next for the Devonshire musician...
What is your musical mission statement?
Like a plan for world domination?! My aim is to continue writing and performing as much as possible, to as many people as possible... And see how far it can take me.
Your recently released Focus EP is doing really well, with plays on Radio 1 and a stint in the iTunes chart. How do you feel about the reaction people have had towards it?
I've been totally overwhelmed and humbled by the response. I recorded the EP on a tight budget (it was recorded in a garden shed under the Heathrow flight path!)
Obviously being unsigned you had to rely a lot on word-of-mouth promotion. How was the process of putting out a release without a record company behind you?
It's all down to the public and fans as to how well records ever do. Without a label providing large scale promotion/marketing campaigns it’s much harder to access people so I depended on word of mouth from fans. The internet is very, very useful as well. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube all help!
The video for 'Focus' was created by stop motion animator Andy Shackleford, famous for his work on Postman Pat. Who came up with the idea for the video?
Andy and I started talking about it over a year ago. We've both put in ideas to the video but he deserves the credit for all the hard work!
A massive part of your live performance is the percussive way you play your guitar. How did you develop your technique? Do you think it will continue to progress or have you found your "sound"?
I learnt flamenco as a kid so that's had a large influence on my technique. In terms of progression I think I've found my sound on the guitar but the song writing is constantly progressing.
Touring with Ed Sheeran is how a lot of your new fans discovered you. What is your best memory of the + tour?
The whole experience was awesome! The response as soon as I walked out on stage was always overwhelming, but I think my favourite moment was when Ed got myself and Lee (my percussionist) to come on stage with him at Belfast to sing ‘Kiss Me’ - the crowd was so quiet and then went crazy!
Are there any concrete plans for a full length album?
No dates or album titles or anything like that but I promise there's one on the way!
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
I've been lucky enough to work with one person I've always wanted to, but I can't tell you yet!
Finally, my friend Jess is a bit in love with Lee Levent's (previously mentioned percussionist) biceps. She was wondering if he is going to remain a permanent part of your live set up? (For purely musical reasons, obviously).
For Jess's purely musical inquisitiveness the answer is yes, Lee will continue gigging with me for the foreseeable future!
Ryan Keen will be playing at several summer festivals, including Dot to Dot Festival in June and Bestival in September. His Focus EP is available on iTunes now.