Introducing: Jimmy O’ Keefe

Baltimore, Maryland-based singer-songwriter Jimmy O’ Keefe talks us through his musical background and what to expect when checking out his music.

What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?

Right now, Jimmy O’Keefe and Friends is a solo act. I’ve been playing under this moniker on and off since 2010. I really didn’t pick it back up until the pandemic when it became difficult to play with other musicians.
What should people expect when they check your music out? How would you describe it?
I’d describe my music as Indie Folk. The first thing people notice when they hear my music is my singing. I have a pretty unique singing voice, and people say it sounds different than the way I talk. I really try to focus on lyrics as well.
How did you feel performing your first gig, and how was it?!
I recently performed my first solo show in over a decade. This was back in February. I found myself having to engage with the audience differently. When you’re by yourself, everyone is looking at you, and there’s no way to deflect the attention away from yourself. I’m not a dancer. I don’t have a lot of bells and whistles when I perform solo. So, you really have to dig deep and sing as if you’re speaking truth.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams at the minute with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out to build a name for themselves?
How does a band stand out? I honestly don’t know. I’m still working on “standing out”. I think maybe you have to have a really organized system of self-promotion. There is so much opportunity to put your music out to the public, but then the public space becomes overcrowded by new music that it becomes like a choir of voices screaming “pick me”! The audience’s attention is a valuable commodity and the listening platforms have somewhat insidious control over where the attention stream goes, where it ebbs, and where it flows.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
Here is my most recent release: Racing Against My Fate. It’s a song about trying to escape the inevitable. [New single ‘I Hate To Tell You’ has since been released]
In terms of a similar audience, which band out there at the minute do you feel you would be best suited to open for?
I think I would do well opening for a band like Houndmouth. Although, I think I often come from a much darker place than them. So, maybe like Father John Misty as well?
Excluding yourself, which new band would you like to see break out and become a success?
There’s so much talent in the Baltimore Music Scene. It’s a really eclectic scene as well. Some scenes have a particular “vibe” or genre; Baltimore has many different artists of many different genres. I started to put together a playlist of Baltimore Artists. There’s a lot more, but I did the best I could with a starting point.
What are your own first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
I remember that my mother played a lot of Enya when I was young. When I was 13, I heard someone playing a guitar and I immediately wanted to do it. I felt drawn to the sound of the instrument – the fact that it could make such a vibrant noise.
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
Just went to a Brian Jonestown Massacre show a few weeks back.
What current social issue are you particularly passionate about?
I’m a teacher, and I teach 8th grade. So I work in a place that reflects a lot of social issues. I see the effects of cyberbullying and how corporate greed preys upon young people, specifically in the tech industry. Also, our education system needs a lot of work.
The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
I’ve started getting into noise rock. One of my favorite albums right now is CRAWLER by Idles.
Although 2021 was another year to forget, there were some amazing new albums released, what would be your album of last year? And, what new music have you been enjoying so far this year?
I found myself listening to The House is Burning by Isaiah Rashad in 2021. I’m looking forward to getting into Alt-J’s new album.
What does the remainder of 2022 hold for you?
I’m going to keep releasing and keep playing. I have a lot of material. I really want to build up enough money to record a little more professional. Although, I really do like the flexibility of recording from home.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
I’m mostly on Instagram, but you can check out my linktree to see more.

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