Niall Keels is fast becoming one of the most talked about artists in the UK and Ireland. After initially building a name for himself in the music industry as a songwriter, Keels is now setting the stage as a singer.
His debut single, Surrender, received rave reviews in 2016, and made it on to Spotify’s hit list “Fresh Finds”. The single quickly led to live performances with the internationally-renowned Sofar Sounds and TV channel, London Live.
Keels – Surrender
But it hasn’t all been plain-sailing for the singer-songwriter best known known as the frontman of Empire Divide; Keels suffered from serious stage fright as a teenager and has worked hard over many years to learn his craft.
“I’ve been singing since I was nine years old, when I was in a school choir and a three-piece band with a few mates,” he says.
“My best advice for budding artists would be to be resilient. You have to remember that you’re never going to please everyone so it’s best to just write and perform music and songs that you truly love.”
In the past 12 months Keels has performed with The Augustines, a band he has admired for many years, and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
He is yet to go full time as a singer, although he is working hard to make that a reality. He says he draws on personal experience and takes inspiration from the likes of Johnny Cash, Phil Collins and Bruce Springsteen, to create his emotive and ethereal brand of music.
Keels’ latest single Prison Walls has just been released. He describes the song as an expression of his emotions after coming out of a long relationship.
Keels – Prison Walls
“I felt like I was trying to hold onto something, while being a prisoner of so many circumstances. Sometimes you need space and freedom to help make the right decisions,” he explains.
The vocal harmonies are serene and Keels employs hazy reverberated guitar licks, which build up to a compelling crescendo. His songwriting ability shows its true colours in the chorus.
Keels has had a sold-out show St Pancras Old Church and plans to do a Secret Session before the year’s out. The London-based artist will also join alternative rock band Air Traffic on their tour in October, so fans don’t have long to wait to see Keels on the big stage.