Dermot Kennedy on building an audience on his own terms and why celebrity doesn't interest him
The man of the moment in deep conversation.
What a year it has been for Dermot Kennedy.
From a four-night residency in the Olympia Theatre to lighting up American talk shows to gracing the Main Stage of Electric Picnic to selling out a two-night stand at the 3Arena and bagging the #1 spot in Ireland and the UK with debut Without Fear, it really has gone very well indeed.
Prior to the release of said album, Kennedy paid a visit to the JOE studios to sit down for an in-depth conversation with Dion Fanning as part of Ireland Unfiltered.
Discussing his move from busking on the streets to packing out shows, Kennedy spoke of the importance of independence, noting that he was able to bring his audience with him on his own terms.
"As you develop, you don't want to leave those people behind," he began.
"It's on you as an artist to develop and to grow but you don't want to isolate or ostracise those people.
"I put so much emphasis on the importance of what I do live, because I don't really do any of the other mad stuff, I don't do social media gimmicks or anything like that, I don't have some mad personality that draws people in. I win people over at a gig. That's where I try to make it as special as possible."
In terms of moving towards a more deliberately ostentatious social media presence, Kennedy is highly unlikely to do that any time soon.
"You look at somebody like Frank Ocean - he essentially doesn't exist but people are mad about him and it's all got to do with the work. It's this beautiful thing.
"Obviously that's quite an extreme example, it's like an anomaly, nearly, but that's what you want to be. You can't panic and start doing stupid things just to try and bring in fair-weather fans."
As for the idea of fame and celebrity becoming a solidified part of his life - something that Kennedy evidently has no interest in courting - the 27-year-old is staying level-headed.
"I think maybe I'm naive in being like, 'No, it's all good', because I don't know what it'll be like next year, but also, certainly currently, I'm totally comfortable, it's all good.
"I just do music and that's it and the thing is, every decision you make sort of carves that path for you, so if a year ago I was like, 'Ah, I should do all of the social media mad things', then I think slowly you would start to see a fan base that loves that kind of thing and so by sticking to my guns and just relying on the music, I've got a fan base of people who only want to see the music.
"I would hope I've got a fan base who are like-minded and only want the work from me. They don't want anything [else], you know?" Kennedy added.
"I genuinely haven't given a thought to the celebrity thing. I feel like I'm certainly not there yet and I'll put something in place to avoid it."