Even at the young age of 19, Perth-native Kaitlin Keegan has already been honing her craft for some time. “I started playing music with my dad when I was really little, probably 4 or 5,” Kaitlin says. “We would write little songs together. He taught me everything he knew on guitar.” Once she’d exhausted her dad’s knowledge, Kaitlin threw herself into music lessons and binged on her parents’ Motown and soul records, finding that she “loved the way the artists could portray so much emotion in their voice.”
It didn’t take long before she knew this is what she wanted to do with her life. “I remember when I was in Year 3 (I thought I was super grown up),” Keegan laughs. “And I was lying in bed with my sister Emma and I was trying to tell her that I needed to go to a music specialist school so that I could just play music all day and never do any maths again. After much back and forth I came out with something like, “Music is my life! Gosh!”
In her short career so far, Kaitlin Keegan already has a slew of impressive achievements under her belt: opening up Fremantle Folk Festival, supporting Alex the Astronaut on her Australian tour, being nominated by WAM for their ‘Most Popular New Act’ award, showcasing at the Bigsound music conference in Brisbane, winning Triple J Unearthed’s competition to open for The Rubens in WA, and most recently inking a publishing deal with Mushroom Music.
Perhaps the most outstanding accomplishment of them all though is her debut EP, Sadisco.
“It was November or December 2017,” says Keegan. “And I booked a venue for an EP launch in February 2018 even though I hadn’t recorded anything. I had no budget, but I knew if I set a date I’d get it done. My friend and keys player Brad kindly took on the job and helped me make the EP. We slaved away every weekend for two months and somehow got it done! We recorded most of the parts in his little home studio and everything else was done in a larger home studio with our friend Mason. It was a great learning experience!”
The leap of faith and hard work paid off in spades. Sadisco’s five carefully crafted songs showcase Keegan’s quietly beautiful voice, one that can whisper, soar or just shoot it straight, as though you’re chatting with a friend over a morning cuppa.
It’s on the EP’s stunning centrepiece ‘Emma’ that Kaitlin’s talent really shines. An ode to her fraught childhood and the companionship of her sister, the song hits like a tonne of bricks. The spacious, pared back arrangement allows Keegan’s effortless vocals and frank story-telling to shine, proving that sometimes the softest songs can deliver the hardest blows.
“‘Emma’ is definitely my favourite song on the EP,” says Kaitlin. “Emma is my older sister, we’re 9 years apart. The song is a little story/snippet of our childhood and relationship to our mum. It’s a survival story in a lot of ways and I guess it’s about Emma being there for me during traumatic events and hiding things that I didn’t need to see or experience. I really just wrote this song for my sister and myself, I definitely didn’t think that other people would be able to connect or relate to it!”
That is the key to Keegan’s charm. Across the EP, she finds the universal in the everyday, telling tales that are deeply personal, but also endlessly relatable, and setting the whole thing to a back drop of shimmering folk pop.