Q: Hi there! I love your unique cover of “Over the Rainbow.” Obviously, this song has been covered repeatedly, but something is uplifting and fun about your version that stands out. What did you enjoy most about making this track?
JD KELLEHER: It’s a big change of direction for me, musically. My songs to date have a more indie/rock vibe, but Rainbow is more of a musical theatre song, so it was exciting and lots of fun to see if we could make it interesting and compelling for our time and with a band. People tend to forget that I am in a band. Rainbow a beautiful melody and a great song and it is a joy to sing with those big theatrical crooner moments. Also, though, it has a soft, yearning, vulnerable quality in the lyrics and I love that.
Q: In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
JD KELLEHER: To date my music has been in many ways a bit dark because much of it has been inspired by LGBT activism, such as my cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart and my debut solo tune, Imagery. When I approached my producer and co-writer Jimmy Pinol about making an album, he suggested that we move towards the lighter, happier musical place. The album, Now Is Our Time, is almost complete now and it is full of happy, joyous songs that we have written together and of course, one or two covers, such as Over The Rainbow. Musically, I’ve moved in a more melodic, poppy direction too, but still with the edge that my amazing musicians deliver on guitar, drums, bass and keyboards.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received about the music industry, and how has it helped you navigate your journey so far?
JD KELLEHER: Always keep your expectations in check and stay focused on the music.
Q: Hopping off the last question, what advice would you give to other up-and-coming artists trying to get their name out there?
JD KELLEHER: It’s a hard and expensive journey. Be prepared for a long hard slog. You will struggle with self doubt and with believing in your music but that’s true of anything in Life. Reaching an audience takes time so just keep going. One day at a time…and as I say…one song at a time. And enjoy the time you spend with the musicians, I would say. Nothing lasts forever.
Q: Your captivating vocals and the mesmerizing instrumental and trippy music video make “Over the Rainbow” a perfect song to relax and vibe out to. What do you hope listeners take away from this track?
JD KELLEHER: That’s very kind. Thank you. Over The Rainbow is a song about dreams, yearning and possibilities. It carries a message of hope and it is full of musicality. It also triggers sweet childhood memories of pure imagination. I just want people to enjoy the performance and the song and sing along in an escapist moment of happiness because these are very divisive days that we live in.
Q: I’m always curious about an artist’s journey to where they are now. Do you remember who first got you into music? Was your family musical growing up?
JD KELLEHER: I was a choir boy in church as a child and later part of the chorus line in pantos…stuff like that, and I was obsessed with pop music as a teenager. All my money went on records. My family were not musical as such, but they all loved music. I’ve been a jobbing actor for all of my adult life but secretly I yearned to record songs. When Ireland went to vote, as a nation, on marriage equality in 2015, I felt it was a good time to make a real effort to make some music. To stand up and be counted as an LGBT Irish artist. It was important foo me to be part of that moment in Irish history and that is how my recording career began, with the help of my friend Peter M Smith, who duetted with me on Love Will Tear Us Apart, and introduced me to the musicians I work with today.
Q: Who would you most like to collaborate with, if it could be anyone in the world?
JD KELLEHER: That’s a tough one, to pick just one. I love so many artists…I’d like to sing with an Irish legend like Sinead O’ Connor, or have a sing-off with big-voice Bono haha. I’d also love to sing with another gay artist. Can you ask Elton if he is up for a duet with me, please?
Q: Thanks so much for speaking with me! What projects are currently in the works? Any other exciting news you want everyone to know?
JD KELLEHER: Well, I’ve been working on my debut album for nearly three years now and it is almost complete. Seven songs are recorded and two more are coming up in the studio soon. What’s special about the album is that I wrote all of the lyrics (apart from the cover tracks of course) so the music is very much an expression of my world view. I am far more romantic than I thought. It’s the first time I have sang my own words so that has been a special and lovely challenge. Videos are complete for three of the songs. I want videos for all of the tracks because I have more of an audience on YouTube than I have on the audio streaming channels. It will be a visual as well as an audio LP.
Q: Any parting words to your fans?
JD KELLEHER: Thank you for listening (and watching.) It means a lot to me. The music is made for you. I’m essentially a performer and you can’t be a performer without an audience. Life is a rehearsal for the performance and the audience is everything.
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano
FOLLOW JD KELLEHER: