Q&A with American singer-songwriter Donovan Keith

– Congratulations on the release of your latest single, “Heartbreak Soliloquy”. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind the song and what it means to you?

The song is a reflection on a few past breakup experiences mixed together. I’ve been on all sides of it. I’ve been cheated on, I’ve been the person fighting to keep a spiraling relationship together, and I’ve also been the person to grow feelings for someone new and walk away from someone. Most people if not all have been there. The song is an homage to all of that. The lyrics live in that space between when we accept things are done, but we’re still broken, bitter and there’s a lingering melancholy that takes time to heal. People really seem to be resonating with that.

– We read that “Heartbreak Soliloquy” was written without any musical accompaniment. Could you tell us more about this creative process and how it influenced the overall sound and message of the song?

It’s the only song I’ve written like that. I go on these daily hikes on these wooded trails near my house. Often when I’m on the hike I’ll work through deeper emotions and thoughts and sometimes great phrases and lyrics just flow through my mind. This song practically wrote itself in an hour or two. But when I tried to put instruments in the arrangement, it felt wrong. If i gave it drums or piano or horns, the song totally changed as if it was rejecting those things. I finally realized that the lyrics are the song and whatever instrumentation I added needed to be very subtle and stay out of the way. It’s quite the opposite of all my previous recording experiences and I found it refreshing.

– “Heartbreak Soliloquy” features instruments recorded in Madrid, Spain, with exceptional Spanish musicians. How did this collaboration come about and what was it like incorporating their talents into the song?

I traveled to Spain last Summer to play a few shows in Madrid and a festival in Andalucia called Pueblos Blancos Music Festival. I’ll be going back again this Summer. Because I couldn’t take my entire band from Austin to Spain, we were introduced to some great Madrid based musicians that played our shows. We instantly connected and I was impressed by how seamlessly they fit in with our music style and personalities. I definitely needed and wanted a different recording experience. All the excitement and momentum I currently have is in Spain, and so what better place to record than somewhere you feel excited, comfortable, and welcome. In the American routine, daily life is a grind full of constant distraction. Going there and being among great musicians in a different culture gave me space to clear my head, to focus on expression. The musicians I worked with were amazing and even though I haven’t learned much Spanish yet, we were able to speak the same musical language together.

– You’ve been a prominent figure in the music scene for over a decade, both as a solo artist and as the frontman of Soul Track Mind. How has your musical journey evolved over the years and what have been some of the most significant milestones for you?

I started out coming from a Theatre background having never been in a band previously. I couldn’t read music, couldn’t play an instrument, and hadn’t written a song but somehow I told myself being a singer was what I was going to do. Because I didn’t have that foundation it has taken me much longer to reach milestones and though I’ve been able to do some amazing things, I think the best is yet to come. Even though I’ve been doing it for a few years now, I feel like I’m in a much better place spiritually. Any thoughts of fame or riches I was hoping to achieve when I was young have faded. I care more about pursuing art for art’s sake and performing and communicating to audiences with passion wherever that takes me.

– You’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with renowned acts and perform at prestigious music festivals. How have these experiences shaped you as an artist and what have you learned from collaborating with such talented musicians?

I think people sometimes get caught up in celebrity. I’ve never been one to put people on pedestals regardless of how skilled or famous they are. When you’re around them, they’re just normal people. Everyone is far less extraordinary than they appear on stage. It’s given me confidence to know that I’m no different from them and to keep myself grounded. Some famous artists have no talent whatsoever, while others are extraordinary talents that never see the light of day. Fame doesn’t indicate talent or ability. It’s meaningless. Good musicians can communicate anywhere, anytime, with anybody. I resonate the most with passionate artists and one’s who pursue music for unselfish reasons.

– Now that “Heartbreak Soliloquy” is available on major streaming platforms, what are your future plans? Can we expect more music from you in the near future, and is there anything else you’d like to share with your fans?

I have another follow up single coming in a few weeks and I’ll be spending a few months in Europe this Summer starting with a few weeks in Spain playing shows with some of the musicians I recorded with. I’ve been invited to play at Live At Heart Fest in Sweden and I’ll also be playing a few dates in the UK, Germany, and Belgium. As much as I’ve enjoyed growing as an artist in Texas, I feel a much stronger gravitational pull from Europe and I feel like it may be where some of my future musical exploration lies.