Rising: Harry Keyworth shares his secrets for conquering stage fright

Introducing another latest star performer as part of Ticketmaster Rising in association with Busk in London.

Say hello to Harry Keyworth, the latest Rising star brought to us by Busk in Lonson. A songwriter, composer and session musician, Harry has developed his sound by blending a de-tuned acoustic guitar, piano, percussion and bass instruments.

What artists do you look to for inspiration?

“I like an artist who can really play their instrument, the type of person that could pick up anything random and get a good sound out of it. I like the sort of artist that can really orchestrate and find the ‘pocket’ in a groove and get a full sound out of a few components, for me Jose Gonzales achieved this on his first album with just guitar and vocals. Such a full sounding record all the way through with a calm complexity always keeping your ears interested.

“Another artist I’ve always enjoyed is Jamie Woon. Like Jose he is very difficult to pigeon hole and he brings a fresh sound to your ears and unlocks new parts of your subconscious. His tracks are well thought through, and even if I’m not a fan of the song I’m always enjoying the quality of sound.

“Inspiration however can of course come from anywhere at any time from anyone for whatever reason.”

How do you prepare before a performance?

“If I have a few gigs on the trot then I don’t really do much preparation as everything is still fresh from the day before. If I have the time in the day I like to look after myself and avoid stress and feel as good as I can so that what I’m trying to do comes across in the best way it can.”

Do you have any good luck charms that you have on you during a performance?

“No not really, yet if a close member of family or a friend is watching it does make me feel a bit lucky to have people you love watch you do what you love. Also during a set I play three different guitars and each one has its charm if you like, so I look forward to changing between songs which kind of helps me through.”

Who did you look to for inspiration when starting out?

“Well when I was about nine I was really starting to enjoy playing the guitar. I used to love Steve Vai and Joe Satriani as well as Stevie Ray Vaughn as I felt they could produce sounds with a guitar that nobody else could. That phase ended at about 13 when my dad bought me me first proper acoustic guitar and once I got stuck into that different people like my uncle or teachers at school would give me CDs to listen to like Jeff Buckley or John Martin and that’s about the time I started de-tuning and finding my own tunings.”

Do you suffer from stage fright and where does your confidence for performing come from?

“I do and I don’t! Sometimes the nerves can really enhance your performance yet I’ve found when you’re super relaxed and not scared you are generally funnier or more engaging, say with between song banter or stories. Confidence with performing came from doing school plays and seeing people’s reactions. I enjoyed the attention and it made me feel great when people enjoyed what you did. Now I think it’s more about connecting with like minded people both in other musicians and people in the crowd.

What are the best three places you’ve performed?

“I really enjoy places that provide the right context for your music to come across. So far I’ve found that St Pancras Old Church works well and I’ve enjoyed some smaller O2 Academy’s too. There are however some memorable shows when playing abroad in Vienna or Serbia where the crowds were amazing despite them not understanding a word of which you sing! Brighton Dome was a pleasure to play solo in too.”

How would you describe your sound in three words?
“Melodic percussive acoustic”

If you could tour with any act, who would it be?
“At the moment… Jamie Woon”

What is your dream venue to play?
“Jools Holland’s TV show, does that count?”

Have you any top tips for performing live?

“Start as early as you can. The sooner you make the mistakes, the sooner you will learn and then the sooner you can really start enjoying it, and that in turn will come across to the people watching.”

What was the first record you bought?

“Joe Satriani, Surfing on a Dream.”

What is the most recent record you bought?

“Sharpness by Jamie Woon”

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