'I've got a mission, and my mission is real.'
Young, British singer, Declan McKenna
, carries an incredibly mature mind on his adolescent shoulders. Don’t be fooled by his youthful smile and childlike energy, he is in fact very much in tune with the social world, whilst still appreciating his own coming-of-age journey.
Walking the beach in a pair battered Converse, carrying a beloved, archaic acoustic guitar strapped to his back, Declan is the organic image of a real musician. Feeling the texture of the surrounding objects as he walks, he takes in every sense of the world in that graceful way songwriters do. With eyes a little wider and brain always ticking, he writes a number of shoulder shimmy-ing, politically driven lyrics that are delicately decorated by catchy melodies and loop pedals. Raising the point of globally effected issues both in his own little world and in the grand scheme of society, he touches the relatable and the taboo. Yet he doesn’t see himself as unique for doing so. Amidst a generation of outwardly speaking individuals that have the power to express on a global scale, Declan believes his peers are the forward thinking innovators that are often overlooked. Using his vocal power as a means of expression, he aims to inspire others to follow in his mucky footsteps.
Captured whilst performing at a festival in Los Angeles, Nicola Collins
playfully captures his youthful energy in the beauty of the raw beach. Photographed on the edge of the water, he playfully looses himself in the wooden structures and sand, as he let's Nicola's lens capture him, sharing his experience of his festival set. We're left with one key take-away, Declan is all about being real.
How have you enjoyed today?
I’ve enjoyed it a lot! It’s been a lovely day, lovely weather, the show went well. I like LA, it has its upsides and its downsides, but it is a pretty beautiful place with all the palm trees.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m 17 and I’ve been playing guitar since I was about nine or ten years old. I then started using the loop pedal when I was 13 and I started writing songs around then too. I’ve always loved music and performance, so it kind of just worked out very well for me. I never expected, even like a year ago, that I’d be performing in LA and people would know my songs. It’s an amazing feeling when you see people actually turn up to watch you, it’s so much fun. I had an insane response from record labels and it was so weird, because I was doing my GSCE’s at the time. I’d go to this little cafe by my house and meet different record labels.
Has there been any moments where you think it’s all got to your head?
I’m the youngest of six, so you kind of get that bullied out of you from a young age. There’s no room for ego when you have five older siblings.
Tell us about your songwriting.
I’m a big fan of The Beatles, so I guess I kind of took some inspiration from there where you’re not necessarily writing about the happiest of stuff, but doing it in a positive way. I just like messing around with music; I like to write about things with a message I guess. I think younger generations are definitely getting more involved in things like politics and social issues, and I like to be a part of these kind of movements in my generation. I don’t think it’s exceptional to me, and I think a lot of young people are doing the same. I just get to sing about it in songs.
Who are your musical influences?
David Bowie, Jeff Buckley, The Beatles and The Kinks, great people like that. David Bowie is probably my favourite. I’ve loved everything that he’s ever put out, he’s done so much for music.
Are you sensitive or a tough guy?
I’m kinda sensitive, I was very close to tears at the end of Harry Potter, so I guess I’m a bit of a cry baby, but there’s nothing wrong with that!
What do your friends think of your success?
I think they’re all really happy for me, they’ve always been supportive. When I get to see my friends it’s great and it’s nice to still get to hang out with them. I guess most people my age see their friends daily, but for me it’s different, so I think I appreciate it more.
Describe yourself in three words.
Pretty damn cool.
View Declan's Youtube channel here
Follow him on Twitter here
Words by Ede Dugdale.