Keaton Henson is intensely private. He never intended for anyone to hear his music. He spends most of his time alone, has no desire to play gigs, and politely refuses all opportunities to be interviewed.
The problem for Keaton is that his music is magical. With a voice akin to Jeff Buckley in a particularly mournful mood, Henson’s songs are naked in their emotional honesty. Last year’s beguiling ‘You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are’ had listeners reduced to gibbering emotional wrecks. A debut album, Dear…, is expected in April and is a deeply affecting listen.
Dear… was written at Henson’s home. A cupboard was used to record percussion and a thunderstorm provided sound effects. As he lives under Heathrow Airport’s flight path, the songwriter got to intimately know flight timetables and was forced to record many songs in the 30-second gaps between being blasted by overhead jet engine noise.
Keaton is nothing if not inventive. Instead of playing live gigs to publicise his new single ‘Charon’ (whose video features a puppet committing suicide), he will be hosting an exhibition at London’s Blackall Studios which will run over a three day period at the end of this month. Entitled Gloaming – after a book Henson will release of the same name – the gallery will include a “dollhouse-esque installation.” One at a time, Keaton Henson’s fans will be able to enter the space, sit in a chair, and insert their head into a hole at the front of the wooden house. Here, Keaton will play one song just for them. Playing music for three days non-stop seems an interesting way around having to play a conventional gig.
But, Keaton Henson is not conventional – as The Line Of Best Fit found out when we requested an interview. The only way he would agree to interact with us was if we emailed him some questions and he then drew us his answers. The resultant doodling reveals more than most face-to-face interviews. For Keaton Henson a picture does, indeed, speak a thousand words.