(SXSW 2016 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #381: Declan McKenna

By on Monday, 22nd February 2016 at 12:00 pm

Editor’s note: we’re making some exciting changes in the way we cover SXSW 2016 this year, especially in the way we preview all the bands that we want to introduce you to before the big event in Austin in March. Read all about our big plans here.

It’s rare to have an artist heading out to SXSW 2016 who’s not only younger than our drinking age (age 21), but also below the legal adult age here (age 18). But I think this speaks more to Declan McKenna’s talent and the rarity of his outspoken art than anything else. The Hertfordshire teen won Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition last summer, beating out previous featured on TGTF band from Newcastle Shields and many other young hopefuls from around Britain. Winning the competition gave him a sweet £5,000 prize from PRS for Music Foundation, a wonderful and direct investment to his future in music. But his win also resulted in zealous courting by many UK record labels, eager to sign the talented teen. He ultimately chose to go with major Columbia Records.

This doesn’t mean, however, that’s McKenna has signed away his name and responsibilities to a major to live high on the hog. Far from it. Last year, he self-released two hard-hitting singles, ‘Brazil’ and ‘Paracetamol’, the former claiming the #1 spot for 3 straight weeks on the American SiriusXM Alt Nation station’s Alt 18 countdown. ‘Brazil’ is McKenna’s personal indictment of FIFA and professional football, citing the hypocrisy of giving the country the much desired World Cup competition money maker in 2014 while much of its local population suffered in poverty.


Similarly, ‘Paracetamol’ – better known on American shores as acetaminophen or its trade name Tylenol – on which he collaborated with electronic favourite and one of my personal favourite people Tom Vek, tackles another hot button topic, the misrepresentation of transgender teens by the media. How many young folk do you know are stepping out to make their politically charged opinions known on a world stage, and do it well? Already drawing favourable comparisons to Jamie N Commons and Jake Bugg, there’s nothing to stop this young, precocious talent from taking off.

Declan McKenna is scheduled to perform Wednesday afternoon, the 16th of March, at the Radio Day stage in the Austin Convention Center, as well as Friday evening, the 18th of March, at Empire Control Room.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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