Listening to Katell Keineg, one is constantly aware of the duality in her music: modern and seemingly ancient, melodic with dissonant elements, soft but intense, deeply personal and unknowable.
Katell was born in Brittany, grew up in Cardiff, Wales, and currently lives in Dublin. When she was signed by Elektra Records in 1993, she was poised to become the “next big thing.” Unfortunately, management changes at Elektra left her with a contract to a record company that little cared about marketing her music, preferring to concentrate their efforts on pop music, which was becoming increasingly popular.
So Katell’s music remains mostly hidden to the world. I consider myself a fan and I sometimes don’t find out about new releases for months, if not years, after they’re released. Katell doesn’t seem much concerned with marketing, nor is there any real effort on anyone’s part to even keep her existing fans up-to-date. I signed up for her mailing list years ago through her website and I don’t remember getting any mail as a result. Katell released a 4-song EP called Y Gwyneb Iau/Trouble in January of this year, and I only found out about it while researching this post.
“Well, I guess it is a bit weird, getting up onstage and emoting — not that my songs are autobiographical! But at a gig, the exposure, the emotion, is through the conduit of a song. And, most important, it’s not just me; there’s an audience participating; we’re all there in the room together. That’s where the contact is. That’s where the religious element is.”
There You Go is from the album Jet, released in 1997. This video was recorded at The Living Room in New York City in 2006.
As much as I hate to say it, the word is never going to get out about Katell, one of the most gifted singer-songwriters of our time. Why? Funny you should ask. I’ll tell you the big secret:
Because music is dead.
Music died a while ago, and it went out with a whimper, not a bang. There are no longer any rock radio stations, other than stations that play “oldies” and alternative stations, which are an alternative to good music, mostly. There are stations like JACK FM that play a mix of music, but they never front-announce or back-announce the music (not that they’d ever play anything by Katell). How can they? They don’t have any deejays. Even the stations with deejays don’t announce tracks. Not that it would matter, since they don’t play anything worth listening to anyway.
Music is dead, unless your idea of music is rap or bullshit pop music (and if it is, I feel sorry for you). Music is dead, unless you call the phony crap that oozes out of American Idol music.
Music is dead, and Katell Keineg is too good, too honest, too intelligent, and too real to have a place in a music industry that is run by the cartel of gangsters that calls itself the RIAA.
So Katell continues to make the music that she wants to make, the way she wants to make it. And that’s why you probably never heard of her. And you’re the worse off for it.