Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dublin-based Singer-songwriter Keith Cullen Talks High Strung-featured "Say Something," Opening for Hozier & Working with Beyoncé & Michael Jackson Producer DJ Mike Cruz (The Witzard Interview)

"In this time of worldly confusion, Ireland’s Keith Cullen takes a stand for integrity in word, action and song. "Say Something" is the first single from Keith’s upcoming album Dear Future Me (Spring '17), a collection of catchy Alt-Pop tracks with inspired lyrics, lushly-produced to showcase an impressive vocal range not often heard in a male performer. Keith Cullen calls his music "Honest Pop." "There is a lot of noise in our world today," he says. "There is such a need for someone who says something genuine. My lyrics are about authentic stories—people don’t always get to the point of being honest with each other, much less themselves,'" read part of an emailed press kit I received from Magician Media back in late October. Keith Cullen has been actively composing and recording his own music since around 2011-12; having released his self-described "debut track," "Losing my way" to Soundcloud nearly five years ago, trickling out a number of songs over the years leading up to his latest "Honest Pop" single, "Say Something." Last month, DJ Mike Cruz, who has produced chart-toppers for everyone from Madonna to Jennifer Lopez, submitted an Electro-Dance-inflected remix of "Say Something," which recently broke into Billboard Dance Chart's Top 30. I was lucky enough to conduct a brief, albeit thorough, 6-question interview with Keith Cullen ahead of his forthcoming full-length debut, Dear Future Me, which can now be read, enjoyed, and endlessly re-read within the space below. Here's to a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend, guys and gals!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
The Witzard Founder & Turkey Enthusiast

I. What significance does "Say Something," the first single from your upcoming album, Dear Future Me, ultimately have? How did you go about getting it featured within the companion soundtrack to Michael Damian's recent film, High Strung?

Actually, I think this is one of the most significant songs I have written, so far. Not only is it significant in my life, it is significant for many listeners; as its main message is about a need for human connection, which I personally think is something that is often lacking in today’s world, as we get deeper into this digital age. This song is a message to listeners to speak their mind, to live life with a kind heart and [most of all], to be ourselves in world that’s constantly trying to change us into what is perceived as "right."

As for "Say Something" being featured in High Strung, you could call this “The Luck of The Irish!”​​ W​hile I was recording ​"Say Something" ​in a studio in L​os Angeles,​ the producer of the ​film​, Michael Damian​,​ happened to be ​the studio next door and over-heard the song.​ ​He ​knew immediately that the song was a fit for the movie​!​

II. How did you go about initially getting in touch with DJ Mike Cruz for his recent "Say Something" Remix? Do you currently have any similar-minded remixes lined up?

I’m extremely lucky to work with many amazing people, who are always putting me in touch with others who can push me and my music to the next level. My manager, Phil Quartararo, is the main man when it comes to this. Honestly, when I first spoke with Mike, although I knew he was amazing... I was unsure of what he would be able to do with "Say Something," ​ but he absolutely blew me out of the water with this remix! He has an exceptional talent for taking a song and changing it ever so slightly to appeal to a different audience. As you guys probably know, he has also worked with Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, and many other chart-toppers; the track is a now ​Top 30 ​on the Billboard Dance Charts​.​ I was majorly impressed with the work that he did and I’m really hoping to work with him again in the future.

III. What would you likely cite as some of your greatest influences on Dear Future Me and your overall sound?

I grew up in a very musical house, so I have to say, it’s a mix of pretty much everything. My dad was big into Sting & The Police, America, Bread, and Chicago. My mum loved Motown. Mum loved all the divas, so I grew up being able to hit some of the big diva notes, so I (laughs) I thought that was normal for a male voice to be able to sing those big notes, but I learned when I grew up, it wasn't quite as normal as I thought it was. My influences are far and wide. I don't think there's been more an individual person that's influenced me. I kind of draw inspiration from everything around me: life, people, friends, the stuff I listen to, the stuff I watch, art, and traveling—that type of thing.

IV. What else can you tell me about your forthcoming album, Dear Future Me; what producers did you work with, any fellow collaborators, any forthcoming music videos currently in-the-works, etc?

This album is mainly based on honesty. There is a lot of noise in our world today. There is such a need for someone who says something genuine. My lyrics are about authentic stories—people don’t always get to the point of being honest with each other, much less themselves. The album has been produced by the amazing Robert Cutarella, who has had hits with Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Air Supply, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, The Police, Elton John, and Celine Dion, to name but a few​​—this should give you an insight into what this album has in store for listeners​!​

We’re currently working on a music video for "Say Something." It’s going to be pretty special. ​So, keep your eyes pealed for it. With regards to fellow collaborators, I’m always open to working and sharing with people, so we shall see what happens. My door is always open and I’m excited for what the future holds.

V. What was it like opening for Hozier recently? Did he happen to have any advice for a rising Irish singer-songwriter like yourself?

It’s always amazing playing to such a large crowd and even better, when you can open for someone who is one of your own personal inspirations. ​​H​ozier​ was so supportive and encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing. Hard work and talent always win out in the end. ​​It’s always great to see a fellow Irishman doing so well—it goes to show that anything is possible. Irish people are really making their mark on the musical world​, and I’m excited and honoured to be a part of this Irish musical movement.

VI. Your press release says you've dubbed your own music as "Honest Pop." What does that ultimately mean and what do you intend to convey with your music, Keith?

My music falls under the "Honest Pop" category, but to my friends, I usually describe it as my personal autobiography. It’s a collection of songs that sums up my past, present, and my future. I'm told ​​my message is​ ​strong​​ ​throughout my songs​: "say something that's real..."

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