Meet: Keeley Moss; The Heart And Soul Of Dreamy Pop Band KEELEY

Blissed-out soundscapes and dreamy psyche pop deliciously dominate the KEELEY sound. Backseat Mafia caught up with the heart and soul of the band, Keeley Moss, after her recent London headline show. Having taken up residence in the UK after leaving Ireland, Dublin’s loss is very much England’s gain as Keeley discusses her love of indie music, a Manchester ambition and her true crime podcast.

Who are you?!

Words and music.

Where did you come from?

I was born in a crossfire hurricane.

What do you do?

As much music as possible (which is still never as much as I’d like!)

And as little of anything else as possible (which is still always much more than I’d like!)

Tell us about your music journey?

I discovered pop music via the Pet Shop Boys which was my favourite music as a child, and which I still love to this day. I discovered indie/alternative music via The Smiths, which was the most seismic eruption in my life’s landscape as from that day onwards I was going to pursue the path of music regardless.

Then I discovered the music of New Order which was another hugely influential “building block”, that led me to Joy Division who expanded my sonic consciousness even further. The gritty urban realism of The Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys and the mysterious otherness of the music of New Order and Joy Division spoke to me on both a soul level and a sensory level.

Suede, The Stone Roses, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, The Velvet Underground, Buzzcocks, Oasis, Kraftwerk, Saint Etienne and The Charlatans were the next magic key-holders I encountered. The more music I discovered, the more pathways each of those discoveries led to in turn.

Then I got a job in a record store and being able to borrow records after my work shifts led me to build even more of a sonic arsenal. I basically fell head over heels in love with Indie music which, aligned with the love of pop music I had from my childhood, created a potent sonic stew. Then I discovered The Beatles, David Bowie, Super Furry Animals, Nirvana, Radiohead, Dubstar…

All the while my musical vocabulary was expanding. My next major musical find was Pink Floyd and this, coupled with my getting hugely into Spiritualized, My Bloody Valentine and Lush, gave me access to the more atmospheric and expansive sonic landscapes I felt instinctively drawn towards. Then I got really into Psych-Folk like The Incredible String Band and really interesting outlaw artists such as Roy Harper and Edgar Broughton Band, baroque-pop singer-songwriters such as Duncan Browne and medieval traditional English folk music such as Third Ear Band and Shirley and Dolly Collins.

All of these I had to find on my own as I had no older siblings or any clued-in family members and I had no friends throughout my adolescence because I never had a permanent home and was always having to move, by the time I was 15 years old I’d moved house 15 times. And this was all pre-internet so it was so much harder to find the good stuff. But find it, I did. And it’s all fed into the sonic blender to help create my own inimitable musical stew.

Biggest career high so far?

There are several. Getting to open for The Darling Buds in Bristol, for Alain Whyte and his Morrissey/Smiths all-star band in Belfast and Cork, and for The Frank and Walters in Dublin. Getting to go to America to do a radio promo tour for the album is another. Walking into Rough Trade East and finding Floating Above Everything Else in the vinyl racks is undoubtedly another.

Our last gig of 2023 where we headlined in Blackpool for the first time is the single best live show experience I’ve ever had, and both my and our best live performance so far. But if I had to pick my favourite moment of all, it was the morning we spent in Manchester during our first UK tour in September. We’d played Manchester the night before and had a gig that evening in Leeds, and that morning our manager Nick and I wandered around Manchester city centre and popped into Piccadilly Records to find our records in stock in the vinyl racks. That was the best moment of my life to date.

It sounds so simple, and it was. Just strolling around on a rare sunny morning (I love sun! But in Ireland and the UK it’s practically non-existent) being on tour in a city such as Manchester that I’ve always found fascinating, and preparing to travel to another city, Leeds, that is equally close to my heart, and knowing I’d finally fulfilled a lifelong ambition to play in Manchester and being about to fulfil another lifelong ambition of playing in Leeds.

Regardless of how many or how few cats were at the shows on that tour, and regardless of how incredibly challenging it is in the “modern” world to tour and do music as an independent artist, just getting to fucking DO IT properly at long last for the first time was brilliant. And now we’re about to do it again!

What are the Keeley Chronicles?

The Keeley Chronicles is the website I founded in 2016 to blog about true crime cases, Part 1 of which focused on the unsolved murder of Inga Maria Hauser. But very quickly I became so engulfed with passion for Inga’s cause that it led to a full-time commitment, and all of the following 35 instalments focused on Inga as well. It was like I’d fallen down a well, I couldn’t focus on anything else but her and her unsolved case and her untold story.

And 8 years later, I’m still exactly the same, as if I’m under a strange sort of spell, unable to break free. And not even wanting to. My heart overruled my head and left me unable to focus on anything else. I’ve spent the past 8 years writing, talking and campaigning about Inga, whether in The Keeley Chronicles or through the medium of music and lyrics or in radio and print media interviews or in TV documentaries.

For better or for worse, whether it’s a blessing and/or a curse, she’s my life. As I sing in a new song that has yet to be released, “This way chose me”.

What’s your dream gig?

My dream gig is to play an afternoon slot at a major festival on a beautiful warm sunny day, on a sunlit stage with clear blue skies overhead and to feel the sun rays on my face while playing something suitably blissed-out on guitar, with a gentle breeze caressing my hair and skin. That’s been my dream since I got into music as a kid and it has never come true…yet.

Are you excited about your tour?

Very much so. Music is the only thing I believe in in life and I consider playing live the lifeblood of a band. I love touring, even all the aspects other artists always seem to moan about, such as all the travelling. Every part of it is an element of the experience as far as I’m concerned.

I think nothing of travelling ten hours to play for one hour, and my bandmates Luke and Andrew are similar in that respect, they’re brilliant cats with a fantastic attitude. I have a lifelong love of all the regional places in the UK, all the villages, towns and cities.

On this tour, we’ll be returning to Manchester where we had such a great night playing in Aatma in Manchester city centre on the last tour and we’ll be playing two dates in London that neatly bookend the tour, at the legendary 100 Club with Folk Devils on March 15th and at The Dublin Castle on March 27th with YUKE, a fantastically original band who opened for us in Hackney in January.

And we’ll be playing in Preston and Birmingham for the first time ever, at The Ferret in Preston on March 23rd and The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham on March 24th respectively, with guests Sweet Knuckle, a superb Post-Punk band featuring former members of Section 25 who used to play with Joy Division and who opened for us in Blackpool in December.

What can we expect?

A Keeleylicious, bliss-tastic sonic odyssey. With blissed-out waves of dreamy serenity alternating with ferocious blasts of explosive energy. We’ll be previewing several new songs from the next record as well as many of the KEELEY classics. Blissoutdontmissout!

Tell us about your album?

As our debut full-length album Floating Above Everything Else will always hold a very special place in my heart. I love how sonically diverse and expansive it is, especially for a debut album. It’s very varied, it’s a sonic smorgasbord of shoegaze, dream pop, indie-rock, post-punk, space-rock, psych-pop, electronica… and yet it’s very much a unified whole, and at 45 minutes perfectly concise. And it has brilliant artwork that I’m still in love with.

It’s truly a journey in terms of the sonics and the story. I’m so proud of it and always will be. Alan (Maguire, producer) and I and our manager Nick Clift invested so much in it, and it generated a great reaction, especially given the fact that Nick and I basically ran the entire album campaign ourselves.

Favourite track to play live?

Of the current live set, it’s probably a toss-up between the opener Last Words and the closer Echo Everywhere. But there’s one particular song on the next record that is my favourite song of all to play and sing which I’m looking forward to playing live as soon as we can get the next record out.

Backseat Mafia grants you your very own festival – naturally, you’re headlining – but who else is playing?

Okay, my very own festival. Well, first I’ll decline the headline slot but not due to any lack of ambition or not due to feeling unworthy, rather as mentioned above my dream gig is to play on a warm sunny afternoon at a major festival so I can feel the sun on my face and see clear blue skies overhead while playing. As for who else is playing… Okay, I’m not going to pick anyone who’s dead or who is no longer together as otherwise, this answer would be longer than the Bible!

So I’m just going to pick bands who are still a going concern and still playing live. I’d have to have The Pretenders on the bill, who are as incredible live as ever and whose current guitarist James Walbourne is every bit as good as even James Honeyman-Scott and Johnny Marr! Although not many cats mention them to me, I hear similarities between how we sound live and how The Pretenders sound. There is a bad-ass swagger to them and a drama and dangerousness to their sound that I hear echoes of in our live set.

Anyway, back to this fantasy festival!

There’s so many amazing contemporary artists who I think should be so much bigger than they are I love who I’d have on there – Blood Red Shoes, H. Hawkline, Wand, Dutch Uncles, Emily Breeze, Aircooled, Gurriers and Triptides to name just a few.  Also some wonderful local Bristol-based bands such as Stevie Toddler, Almagrey, The Idle Silence and Cult Python. And lots of more established artists such as The Charlatans, Ride, Tears For Fears, The Chameleons, Beck, Franz Ferdinand, Duran Duran, The Darling Buds, The Boo Radleys and Sparks, all of whom are always brilliant live.

Tell us a joke?

I’ll tell you a joke alright – the “modern” world! ‘Nuff said.

Keeley Tour dates:

  • 22 March – Manchester – AATMA
  • 23 March – Preston – The Ferret
  • 24 March – Birmingham – The Sunflower Lounge
  • 27 March – London – The Dublin Castle

Check out the bands track Arrive Alive, below:

Find out more via Keeley’s Facebook

Purchase the bands album ‘Floating Above Everything Else’ here

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