Conleth Kane's New Album Is A Love Letter To The LGBT+ Community

'Proud - Live in London' is currently number two in the official Singer/Songwriter charts, and number 3 on iTunes. We caught up with Conleth to reflect on music, LGBT+ icons and the current political state of Northern Ireland.

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Described by QX Magazine as “an infectiously energetic, refreshingly cheerful Singer/Songwriter”, Conleth Kane made a return to The Crazy Coqs in London’s West End this week to a sold out crowd to launch his debut album ‘Proud – Live in London’. The album was recorded live on October 24 2018 at Kane’s sold out London concert in Soho.

Originally hailing from Northern Ireland, Kane trained at the prestigious Arts Educational Schools in London and went on to perform roles on screen in BBC 1’s Casualty, coming 4th in Ireland’s TV talent search ‘Fame the Musical’ on RTÉ, as well as appearing in musicals on tour and in the West End before becoming a singer/songwriter.

His album is now sitting pretty at number two in the singer/songwriter album charts. We caught up with Conleth before the launch of his album.

Hey Conleth! If you could describe your sound in one sentence, what would it be?

I would say that my music is solid, acoustic, catchy pop music that is extremely relatable, there is a song on the album for everyone and there is a real eclectic range of sounds and influences from song to song. I think I managed that in one sentence. Ha!

Album artwork by Ross McBride at Silverthorne Photography and Jock Mooney

What’s the message of your new album?

The album is my story, and I think it will resonate with an LGBTQ crowd for sure. I never really set out to do an album – I just wrote song after song and all of a sudden I have a body of work that sat well alongside each other. My album takes the listener on a real journey of emotions. I have written songs on that deal with grief, love, addiction, sex, sexuality, London, and more. I suppose the song I am really starting to get known for is my song ‘Proud’, which is slowly becoming a real anthem for people within the LGBT community, which is just unbelievable.

The messages I get about ‘Proud’ are overwhelming. I suppose the message of the album is to talk about situations that affect your life, and for me, that is in my writing. Also, it was a childhood dream of mine to go to London and to make an album and perform in the West End, and here I am with a live album, recorded live in one of the most prestigious venues in London’s West End to a sold-out audience. The album is proof that you can make your dreams a reality, no matter what scale it is on, and that is my message to anyone who takes time to listen to this album. You only live once.

Who or what is doing it for you right now in the world of music?

I am obsessed with The Wandering Heart’s debut album ‘Wild Silence’. It is the finest debut I have heard in years. Such wonderful song-writing accompanied with the most stunning vocals. Check them out – I think they are going to be huge! I am also a big fan of Tom Chaplin (the lead singer of Keane) – his 2017 Christmas album is one the most beautiful records I have heard and contains some really beautiful songwriting – I would LOVE to write with him. I am a big fan of Take That, I think Gary Barlow is a fabulous songwriter and I have loved their 30 years of work. Mariah Carey’s latest album ‘Caution’ was very strong, she is my favourite!

Image of Mariah Carey standing against a curtain.

Who is the greatest personal influence on your life and why?

I know it sounds like a cliche, but my mum. My mum taught me the meaning of unconditional love. I adore her and she has always been my rock. She has been the one that has stood by side throughout my entire life and has never made me feel judged, and she has championed every move of mine, and never tried to steer me away from my dream/goal in order to gain a more secure/conventional route in life. I have a handful of really wonderful friends too who inspire me on a day to day basis. I surround myself with strong people, as I realise the importance of being influenced in a positive way. Negative, bitter or non-trustworthy people aren’t don’t really have a place in my life.

Anyone who believes a gay person should be treated differently in the eyes of the law is homophobic. I don’t understand the mentality of it all. I struggle to deal with it. Arlene and the DUP are painting a very dark picture to the youth in Northern Ireland

Who is your greatest musical influence, and why?

I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing if it wasn’t for the Spice Girls. They came into my life at precisely the right moment. I was being bullied so severely at school, to the point where I had to be transferred to another school, and I was so depressed. I got so lost in their music, their positivity, their energy and their message. They were my light in what was a very dark room. They gave me courage. I will never forget on the first non-uniform day in my new school (an all boy Catholic school in Lurgan) back in 1997, I decided to go in wearing a Spice Girls T-Shirt. I was throwing myself to the wolves considering the new school was meant to be a fresh start, but I went for it because they taught me to be fearless. I got funny looks and was on the receiving name of name-calling for the entire day, but I knew I was different and I wasn’t prepared to hide it. Their music is timeless and so uplifting, and I cannot wait to see them this year. I have met Geri and Mel C, so only 3 to go! I also loved Erasure growing up and have been very lucky to have gotten to know and sing with Andy Bell.

Conleth and Mel C

Who is your LGBT+ icon?

I think John O’Doherty (Director of The Rainbow Project in N. Ireland) is a wonderful human being and even though I don’t live in N. Ireland any more, I am still very grateful for the work he and The Rainbow Project put into fighting for Equal Rights back home on a daily basis. I listen to him in interviews and I have the utmost admiration and respect for him. N. Ireland has a situation where there is a majority of people who vote for a homophobic party to be in power, and this group of voters are influenced by the absolute absurd views on modern society and the equalisation of rights in the north for both the LGBTQ community and women that the DUP have. Can you imagine what it must be like to fight against that all the time?

John O’Doherty

Of course I think people like Lady Gaga and Madonna are wonderful, and I massively welcome the work that massive celebrities like these bring to the table on a world-wide scale for the LGBTQ community, but I am so passionate about being recognised as an equal citizen in my home town one day, and it’s people like John and his team who are fighting to make that a reality, as are many other organisations.

If you could have any six musicians over for a jamming session, who would they be?

Matt Rowe, Richard Standard, Eliot Kennedy, Jonathan Buck, Paul Wilson and Andy Watkins (the guys who wrote all the Spice Girls songs), Haha!

If you had the chance to sit down and talk to Arlene Foster, what would you say?

Firstly, I would ask her why she wants a separate rulebook for Northern Ireland if she’s such a devout Unionist. Her party are so adamant that Northern Ireland is not treated any differently (under any circumstance whatsoever) during the Brexit negotiations, yet they feel it’s ok to exercise their homophobia back home by depriving citizens of basic rights such as marriage. She can rub shoulders with the likes of the corrupt Ian Paisley (who is an absolute embarrassment to politics in 2019), she is neck-high in allegations over the RHI scandal, yet she can look the innocent tax-payer in the eye and tell them they can’t get married.

Anyone who believes a gay person should be treated differently in the eyes of the law is homophobic. I don’t understand the mentality of it all. I struggle to deal with it. Arlene and the DUP are painting a very dark picture to the youth in Northern Ireland – they are making it crystal clear that it is acceptable to treat a community differently and that is wrong. I believe it encourages bullying in society, and ultimately creates divisions. On my song ‘Proud’ on the live album, I sing directly to the DUP. It’s one of my favourite bits on the record.

What’s the best piece of life advice you ever received?

Winners never quit, and quitters never win. My dad taught me that.

If the world were ending tomorrow, what would you do today?

Call everyone and tell them how much I love them and I’d go and do a yoga class, and afterwards, I would sit and listen to my album and be proud that I managed to make that happen.

Conleth Kane’s album ‘Proud – Live in London’ is available now on iTunes.

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