Steven Keene, a Brooklyn native, started his career in the early 1990s by performing in Greenwich Village cafes and folk clubs. He performed at hootenannies, open mics, and little clubs all over McDougal and Bleecker.
Steven collaborated with Howie Wyeth and Rob Stoner (Desire/Rolling Thunder) from the Bob Dylan band to release his debut album, “Keene On Dylan,” in 1990. The album was an eclectic mix of original songs, traditional songs, and covers.
Tony Garnier, John Jackson, and Bucky Baxter from the Bob Dylan band were featured on Steven’s second album, “No Alternative,” which was released in 1995 on Moo Records. Additionally, he collaborated with Danny Kalb, a legendary musician from the 1960s Village scene, on a song for this album called “Only Homeless.” A video for the single “Far Better Friend than Lover” that aired on MTV Europe soon after “No Alternative” was distributed in Europe by BMG. The press and promotion from BMG supported Steven’s European tour. Throughout the years he has released numerous albums, EPs and singles that were critically acclaimed.
The world is now falling in line behind political pied-pipers determined to lead us straight into chaos, whether out of ignorance or outright disregard for the most costly lessons of human history, or out of an equally untenable lack of collective self-awareness. This has become frighteningly obvious. Steven Keene’s “Soon” represents a kind of exorcizing incantation against unwanted hate, which is spread by strong corporate and governmental interests that control the world and have too much to gain by sowing discord around difference. It is an eloquent creative effort to reclaim some sense of collective reason and spiritual autonomy. Check out the song and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
STEVEN KEENE: I was born in Brooklyn, NY. I started playing solo at open mikes and hootenannies in Greenwich Village. After a bit of time, I played clubs and formed a band.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
STEVEN KEENE: Self-taught
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘STEVEN KEENE’?
STEVEN KEENE: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
STEVEN KEENE: I’ve always been drawn to the words; the poetry and symbolism behind the words. My heroes that I listed had a message mostly to open the mind to indifference and prejudice. Neo Astral Folk Rock.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Wow that’s pretty heavy. I think as an artist you do the best you can do to put down your view without showing your hand in its purest form.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
Most of the time I’m just content with getting it out. First on paper. Then in song. I don’t think in terms of fulfillment. It’s kind of like you get the song down and move onto the next.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
I’ve never collaborated. I wouldn’t mind doing it though. Usually, the music wakes me up in my head at 4am. I’ll run to the piano or guitar and put down the riff on my phone. Depending on whether it’s good or not I’ll work it till completion. Sometimes the words come 1st, sometimes the music, sometimes together at once.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
STEVEN KEENE: Probably the traveling.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
STEVEN KEENE: For me the most successful point or moment is when a song is complete.
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