Live At Leeds preview: Declan McKenna

Declan McKenna is not yet 18, but he has already played Glastonbury, received critical acclaim for his highly mature songwriting ability and has even had success in the US charts '“ all accomplishments that elude countless musicians who have been playing longer than this 17 year old has been alive.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th April 2016, 7:30 am
Declan McKenna
Declan McKenna

This weekend, McKenna will be adding another honour to his ever-growing list by playing a slot at Live at Leeds.

More than 40 different record companies fought over McKenna, all wanting to sign him. Eventually, the Herefordshire born songwriter decided to sign with Columbia Records, the same label that has Adele, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, just to list a few of its clients. “I guess it just came down to a combination of a really great deal and a group of nice people who I thought I could get on with,” explains McKenna when commenting on why he finally chose Columbia over the other labels.

Many of his songs feature a political meaning; Brazil, for example, was written about FIFA awarding the 2014 World Cup to Brazil, without acknowledging the nation’s severe poverty. Politics isn’t something McKenna starts out to write about, he says, it just usually ends up being the topic of his lyrics. “Not really, just most of my good ones have some kind of political thing to them, I don’t know why.”

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Another song, Paracetamol, deals with the issue of transgender teenagers’ representation in the modern media. These heavy topics are not the usual choice of subjects for a teenager to write about, and McKenna alludes to the fact that such deep subjects aren’t always easy to turn into a song. “It really depends, it can take a couple hours or a couple months. It generally happens pretty quickly once I start on a decent couple of lyrics, that’s normally the last bit.

McKenna will be playing at the Brudenell Social Club on Saturday evening as part of Live at Leeds’ 10th anniversary. Despite being on a tight tour schedule, he plans to see as many of the other acts as possible. “I’m well excited! The line up is fab, although I don’t think I’ll be able to catch many bands. There are a couple of bands I’ve played with before who I’d love to see if I’m not rushing in and out, Mystery Jets, Blossoms and Lisbon are top, then I’d love to see Loyle Carner, and Kloe, who I’m sadly clashing with.”

Declan McKenna plays at Brudenell Social Club on Saturday at 6pm. For details visit