Interview: Keith Lannon

Keith Lannon is a 21 year old non-binary psychedelic rock musician born in Seattle and now based in Chicago. I found out about their music from Instagram and I was so impressed. In August, they released an album of demos that they recorded when they were 16-18. It’s a 100% instrumental album and one of my favourites of the year. Instrumentals are something I really appreciate hearing in psychedelic rock because sometimes you want to zone out and lose yourself in the psychedelic guitars and the droning, fuzzy sounds, and reverberation. I think that’s something everyone in 2020 needs. The whole album is amazing, but if I had to pick some highlights  I’m going with “Dimensions”, “Fantastic Voyage”, “Present, Future, Past”, “Begin”, “In Essence”, “Another Disguise”, and “Switched On”. I really want to hear more!

We’re lucky to have Keith here with us on the blog to talk about their music, their style, and more! If you want to learn more, keep on reading! This interview was such a fun one and Keith’s answers are really stream of consciousness and

Angie Moon: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

Keith Lannon: The best way to describe my music to someone who hasn’t heard it would be to say that it’s a showcase of my musical and stylistic roots. I’ve been playing music since I was about 10, and the album chronicles the first few years of my recording fascination which really took off when I was 16, through the time I was about 18. My influences then are similar and different to who they are now.

I always loved classic rock when I was younger and growing into young adulthood my interests shifted to the more experimental and underground. My style at the time evolved from straightforward psychedelic rock to a few different branches and evolutions influenced by artists from the 1960s/70s as well as within the past few years. A lot of the music was improvised and or/written as I went along with recording! There’s an array of experimentation with chord changes, guitar effects, and recording methods.

Angie: How did you get into vintage clothing and classic rock?

Keith: My musical awakening unsurprisingly was the Beatles. I had liked music before, but something was different about the music I was just hearing for the first time through their albums. I was drawn most to their psychedelic era—almost by instinct. I suddenly wanted to play bass, and within months was teaching myself how to play.

My music taste outside of the Beatles grew slowly at first, and much further and in depth as I went through middle school and high school. A few of my other favourite classic rock groups became Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin—the former becoming highly influential to my guitar playing after I had picked up the guitar about a year after picking up the bass.

Vintage fashion I had always liked, but funnily enough I only began dressing vintage this year—back when the lockdown started. I suddenly had a lot more time to think about who I was—both on the inside and how I wanted to outwardly express. I’d always loved late 60s fashion, and now I am still streamlining my style although I am also beginning to diversify my looks! I started growing my hair long again, which it hadn’t been whatsoever since my freshman year of high school. It’s so liberating!

Angie: You were part of a collab in the vintage community called Disabled and Groovy – which is about diversifying vintage representation, what does that mean to you?

Keith: Taking the honour of participating in the Disabled and Groovy collab for me was about empowerment for myself and to boost that of the other lovely folks in the collab through unity and a common goal—visibility. I became chronically ill last year (I have POTS, a form of Dysautonomia.) and when I began dealing with that it shook my entire world and my sense of self—from what I wanted to do with my life to the sense of security in my own body.

Diversifying vintage representation to me has a definition and meaning that is sometimes more fluid and sometimes more adamant—considering the “vintage” community can be defined rather loosely as all of us embody our own passions, talents, and desires. The community we’ve all built and joined on Instagram over years and years should fairly visualise, embrace, platform, and represent all the people who built it and joined it in the first place. This goes beyond disability and into race, sexuality, gender, breaking down and unpacking beauty standards, etc. We’ve all got to do the work, and I saw joining the collab as a work of love and pure energy.

Angie: Who are your biggest style influences?

Keith: I’d have to say my main style influences run pretty vast. I love style muses like Brian Jones, Jane Birkin, and Jimi Hendrix—there are so many more that it’s hard to even think about listing them cohesively without babbling! Style-wise, if I could live in the 1966 film Blowup, I would. As a non-binary person I enjoy looks that break down hard style standards and embrace colour and flamboyance.

Angie: What are your favourite vintage items you own?

Keith :My favourites thus far include a pair of white 60s vintage Levi’s Sta-Prest kick flares that I literally found in the bottom of a pile of pants while thrifting, a 60s vintage off-white puff sleeve shirt with pearlescent buttons that run halfway down and a HUGE dagger collar, and probably my most-worn item—my lovely green tweed flares that are either late 60s or early 70s. They don’t have a tag, so it’s hard to age them beyond that era!

Angie: Who are your favourite LGBTQ icons?

Keith: This is a hard question sometimes because there’s quite a few figures from the 60s/70s era who identified as Queer at the time and took it back years later and/or weren’t finite enough to truly assume without being problematic. I can truly say though that some of my favourite LGBTQ icons include Brian Epstein, Freddie Mercury, June Millington, and Jackie Shane!

Angie: Who are your biggest musical influences?

Keith: My musical influence range is very, very large. I dig mostly the 1960s/70s scenes, with artists like The Velvet Underground, early Pink Floyd, Yes, The Beatles (obviously), Jefferson Airplane, July, Arthur Brown, Blue Cheer, Wendy & Bonnie, CAN, NEU!, Amon Düül II, and SO many many more—as well as artists closer to current times such as Stereolab, Broadcast, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Dungen, early Tame Impala, Pond, The Babe Rainbow, etc. There are so many more niche artists I’ve drawn inspiration from that the list is probably truly close to endless!

Angie: What have you been listening to recently?

Keith: Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of early Pink Floyd, which I revisit from time to time (my favourite tracks lately have been Corporal Clegg, Matilda Mother, and Flaming), Arthur Brown, Fifty Foot Hose, July, and Todd Rundgren (A Wizard / A True Star has seriously become my life’s soundtrack lately)! There are a ton more artists that I’ve been listening to in between, but those are the ones on repeat!

Angie: What was recording the demos like?

Keith: Recording the demos was a very fluid, changing process and a learning experience as they had been recorded over a period of about 2 years. I learned a lot about not only physical recording technique and method but also what I wanted my sound to become at each project’s end, and watching that change on so many levels, especially retrospectively, is really neat to see. I learned everything from where best to place my microphones, to how best to get the proper drum sound I was looking for (I still don’t have my own drum kit, I recorded drum tracks on my friend’s set and got creative with my limited drumming skills by looping tracks and altering them), and about myself and how my style would be ever changing and how to embrace it.

Angie: How has your music been received so far?

Keith: The music has been received very warmly so far and that makes me endlessly joyful. The small, growing exposure it’s had so far has brought out so many kind words and opinions and inquiries—including these questions being so exciting for me to receive and answer!

Angie: Any plans for new music in the future?

Keith: YES! Nothing is set in stone yet but I am beginning to write new songs in the time it will take for me to be in a comfortable enough situation to record again. One of the sad things about the past two years is that getting sick last year really blew a hole in my creative output, flow, and energy. It’s been creeping back slowly—for a while I even stopped playing. That was probably the most profound, saddening horror to live through. I’m hoping these experiences will mould my future work in a way that turns it into light.

Angie: What are your ultimate goals with your music?

Keith: My ultimate goal is simply to be heard more widely. I want to leave something in this world to be remembered, passed along, and hopefully embraced. I am very ambitious in sharing my creative efforts much of the time, and I live for dialogue and the exchange of ideas and thoughts. My goal is to simply keep loving and playing music. I’ve always thought it to be my purpose.

You can follow Keith on Instagram and Spotify.

Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!

Loved this blog post and want to support? If you cannot afford to donate to The Diversity of Classic Rock, there are many free ways to support the blog: Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, click the follow button on my website, leave a nice comment, send your music or classic rock related books for review, or donate your art and writing talents to the blog.

You can also download the Brave Browser using my referral link* and earn tokens that you can donate to your favourite creators (including me!), donate to charity, or you can keep them for yourself and redeem them for cash. The choice is yours! Thank you!

I am also an affiliate of MusoSoup*, a platform for musicians to efficiently share their music with thousands of bloggers, radio stations, and curators for coverage for a very affordable price. If you’re a blogger, you can sign up for free by contacting them. If you’re a musician, you can sign up and share your music with all the bloggers and content creators signed up on the website. If you sign up as a musician using my referral link, I get a commission, which helps keep this blog running and helps you get more publicity for your music.

*This is an affiliate link that you can use at no extra cost to you. I get $5 for every person who downloads the browser through my link. Downloading Brave (which is free) using my link is a nice gesture to support the blog at no out of pocket cost to you, but it’s not obligatory. For the MusoSoup affiliate link, I get 50% of the sign up fee for musicians. The cost is no extra if you use my affiliate link.