Declan McKenna is a 17 year singer song writer currently touring the country along with Blossoms on a sold out tour. I met him at Rock City before the show in Nottingham on Friday. It’s clear that McKenna’s interests lie not only in music but also politics- shown by the lyrics of his songs as well as the tee he was wearing that stated ‘Give 16 Year olds the Vote’, I wanted to find out not only about his vie on music and culture but also his view on the state of the world at the moment politically.
How is it to be supporting blossoms on a sold out tour?
Its mad yeah, obviously I toured with them last year [they weren’t as big were they?] No not at all a lot of it was just playing half-filled rooms on my own and now I’ve got a band and its massive venues like Rock City and it’s been really good fun. They are a good fun lot to hang out with and I have not really played such a lot of massive venues in such a small space of time and it’s been really really good.
Did you like their music before you started with them?
Id never really heard of them up until last year when I got the offer for the tour, but now they are everywhere and they just have a good knack of writing really good songs.
You won the Glastonbury upcoming competition in 2015, how did it feel for your first festival performance to be at such an important event for music fans?
It was great I didn’t really expect to get that far in the completion let alone get to play at Glastonbury that year, and then this year again getting to play the park stage which is huge and terrifying but it was such an amazing time- it’s the biggest festival in the world.
I notice lots of your songs have a political and social agenda, what drives this angle?
First and foremost it’s just because I don’t have the much else to write about but I also think we are at a point in time where a lot of people want change in the way people think and the way things are done in the world and I’m just part of that generation. I just think it’s a good time to try and speak up and get your voice heard.
Do you support the vote for 16 years olds- Its clear you do due to your t-shirt but why?
Yes, definitely. In the simplest terms because I feel like I’m the average 17 year old and I feel like I’m educated enough to vote. It’s really don’t understand why people are against as I don’t feel I know any 16 year olds that aren’t informed enough to have their own views.
Since you have been commenting on the politics in other countries with your songs- what is your view on the current political state of our country?
It’s a bit of a state, I tend to be a labour supporter but there is too much infighting at the moment. [Are you a Corbyn supporter?] I think I am at the minute, compared to his opponents I definitely am, the fear around him being unelectable and people thinking he’s dangerous is because people want to pander to get that middle ground vote but I think people should be trying to get something that’s not so centre left or centre right which is what it’s been since, I guess, post Thatcher. It’s a very difficult time at the moment with all this sort of quarrelling going on.
How do you feel about trump?
I love Donald Trump, he is my favourite man in the world. I think he’s a bit of a fool really, I think he’s just trying it on with the whole politics thing just seeing how far he goes, and he just hasn’t had anyone stop him- and more so than even the monster raving looney party he’s been able to gain mass support from idiocy which says a lot about the world we live in now and how the media can manipulate the way we view things.
Enough of the politics now. You said before you just started to play with a band- how did you find them? Did you choose them?
I basically sent out a thing to a couple of music universities looking for people who wanted to join a signed band and I got a bunch of people and just auditioned and got the 4 from that. Then I kind of wanted to change the dynamics of the band a bit because we were using a lot of backing tracks and things like that which I wasn’t into so then I got my friend Sophia on bass and Nathan who was playing bass to play Keys so I think it’s a lot better. It’s also a lot more fun and nicer to have a bigger sound. We are still developing as we have only been playing together since January but, we are constantly getting better and better and tweaking and it’s a very nice place to be at the moment.
Who is your biggest influencer right now?
David Bowie. Everything. There is a lot of Bowie songs that I still haven’t got sick of and if you knew how much I listened to him you would be shocked. I think in my personal opinion one of my favourite songs of all time would have to be ‘Life on Mars?’ and hes just got so many amazing songs and does so many things and just as a cultural figure as well, I love him.
Where you shocked by his death?
Yeah. I’d never been hit by someone I didn’t knows death like that. I was walking to a band rehearsal when I found out and I just got a text from my manager just saying- it was really vague- but I was running late so I hadn’t had time to read the news or anything, and the text just said ‘gutted about bowie hope you are alright’. So I called her up and was like what’s happened? And she said ‘he’s dead’ and I was close to tears. I went to the memorial in Brixton which is where we shot some of the ‘Brazil’ video and it was strange seeing it covered in flowers and messages- it was just really sad.
Last question- favourite song and artist right now?
Oh god, you’ve put me on the spot. I honestly can’t think [I’ve looked at your Spotify playlist your taste is very eclectic.] Yeah I like a bit of most things, I really can’t think. I’d have to say Governor by JJ Doom, he’s a rapper that releases albums under different names but his JJ Doom album is my favourite at the moment.