interview Music music blog

Interview with . . . Jimmy O’Keefe

If we are lucky, Jimmy O’Keefe and Friends will be making the rounds at a variety of festivals this summer. Hopefully, someone out there with decision-making power can make it happen. The Baltimore singer/songwriter will be popular with those who enjoy folk/Americana music. O’Keefe is making an appearance on the blog today. Please welcome Jimmy O’Keefe to the blog!

Interview with Jimmy O'Keefe

Who is answering the questions?

Band/Artist Name: Jimmy O’Keefe and Friends

Tell us about your latest project.

I just released a single called Racing Against My Fate through The Animal Farm. It’s a song about trying to escape the inevitable (whatever that may be). Feeling like, if you just keep going as fast as you can, you can escape something that haunts you. 

Where was your first concert as a fan? As a performer?

My first concert as a fan was Bruce Springsteen. I think I was about 11 or 12. I was enamored by his energy. 

As a performer, my first concert was at this coffee house at my high school. I played a few songs and sang by myself. It was surprisingly well attended, and I was hooked. It was like the first high. I’ve had good shows since then, but that one was one of the best. 

What is the secret to writing good music?

I think the secret to writing good music is listening. You have to listen to the way words sound and feel. Make something sound new, yet familiar. Make sure what you say has some room for interpretation. See yourself as half vessel, half willpower. 

Do you have a bucketlist? If so, what’s on it?

I would love to play at a music festival. I’ve only ever been to one, but the energy was really cool. When they are at their best, I think festivals have a really communal atmosphere.

What was the last thing that you read?

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut. 

What are you listening to at the moment?

I’m super into the new Idles album, Crawler. 

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I am a teacher. I teach reading and writing. It’s what I’m doing right now. It’s really challenging, but it can also be rewarding. I love teaching even though it can be frustrating because there are so many regulations that stifle kids’ curiosity. Teachers’ hands are often tied by district policies that go against our personal values and beliefs. This can be gut-wrenching. But it really does train you to try to look at the whole forest – not just the trees. It’s easy to get caught up in the details that are clear injustices. But for the most part, I find myself feeling proud of my students at the end of the year, even if they may have really challenged me (which – I have to remind myself – is what they are supposed to do).

Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

I have a vision of getting a bunch of pop stars to do an indie album, have them pull away from the typical pop sounds to do something more raw, maybe folksy. Like, some super popular pop star performing with an acoustic guitar and a stand-up bass, recorded with one overhead mic in an old barn. Like a Tom Waits style album with pop stars. I just find the “larger than life” aspect of current popular music to be dehumanizing sometimes. It’d be cool to get experimental with someone that’s extremely mainstream in a way that doesn’t just appease a major label’s appetite for immediate digestibility. It’s not that I don’t appreciate that type of music for what it is (I love pop music) but it’d be cool to just go 180 degrees in the opposite direction every once and a while – give people a different look. 

What do you want people to know about your music?

So far, everything I’ve recorded as Jimmy O’Keefe and Friends has been written and produced by me. I’ve recorded it all in my house with a make-shift home recording set-up. I have The Animal Farm Records to thank for making it sound professional.

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