May 25, 2010

Ten Questions With Andy Keeling of WelshSteel

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andy keeling of welshsteel
CERI: Can you tell us a little about Welsh Steel, what is it's mission?

ANDY: Having been in the music business professionally for thirty years, twenty years in the US, I realized hardly anyone knows what or where or who is in wales. Being a Welshman in the US, I wanted to introduce our talents to the world.

CERI: Do you have any immediate plans for signings, tours, etc?

ANDY: Yes, absolutely. Between June 2nd and 17th, I'll be in the UK, having industry meetings with music professionals and through my connections with AmeriCymru, I realized I could access musical information and contacts that were previously unavailable to me. I have bands singed in the US and bands coming on tour to the UK and Europe this year, and I thought by coming home to Wales for a few days it would be a good opportunity to view some of the recommended talent in the area.

There's so much opportunity in the US for touring and promoting that I want to represent my home country, Wales, sign the best few bands in certain genre categories of music with a view to recording contracts and bringing them to the US to tour for next year.

CERI: I understand that you're holding an audition in Cardiff in June? Care to tell us where and when that will be?

ANDY: Yep. There'll be an audition on the 12th of June at the MusicBox in Penarth Rd ,Cardiff between 10 and 6.

CERI: What kind of bands are you looking for?

ANDY: I really don't care about genre of music, age or race. All I care about is quality.

CERI: How should bands and musicians get an audition?

ANDY: Join Americymru and Welsh Steel, put up some audio files, performance videos, anything that will show me what you do and although it's last minute, we can contact you. We'll contact the bands for this particular audition, even though it's last minute, don't think we're going to overlook you, there might still be an opportunity to meet and greet, you can give me material for the next set of auditions and we can keep in contact on the networks.

CERI: What's your background in the music industry?

ANDY: I started really young, my first show on stage was with Ronny Corbett and Clodagh Rogers at age five. My local church choral group were asked to sing and my mother claims I snatched the microphone from Ronnie Corbett's hand and decided to sing a locally popular hit, Jimmy Osmond's "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool," to the delight and amazement of the audience, the pit orchestra and especially Ronny Corbett! Since then, my career's been downhill!

No, seriously, music school, classically-trained trumpet player and singer, followed by twenty years of prostitution in the pop business left me in Brazil, Jamaica, subsequently Miami, Florida playing pop music to the masses and being dropped by various labels due to the general public downloading free music, which took all the money out of record labels, subsequently led to the fall of the establishment, so I retired from music. A few years ago I realized a giant hole in my soul by not being involved in the music industry and decided to represent my fellow country men and musicians by managing promoting and touring on their behalf with my experience as the foundation on which to help them succeed. for twelve years straight playing almost 300 shows a year, managing, booking, preforming, scheduling, negotiating contracts and roadying my band and others, I've done it all.

CERI: What do you listen to, who do you like?

ANDY: Anything, really, as long as it's good.

CERI: What's the music scene in Portland like?

ANDY: Portland is small city of a bit over 500,000, of which all are musicians or it seems like that! There are over 150 independent venues that play music every night, so it's music, music, music, of all kinds, all the time. People here like experimentation, they like fusion, they're willing to try anything and they're pretty supportive, it's very creative.

After retiring professionally from performing in 1999, I moved to Portland because I found it to be one of the most exciting artistic communities I'd ever visited and now I'm set, immersed in talent and opportunities with local artists who have little further guidance to go beyond their semi-local, national scene. I feel very privileged to be able to represent quality artists in this area and will endeavour to help them in any way possible, via recording or promotion or touring, so they can achieve their creative goals.

CERI: Care to tell us a bit about where you're from?

ANDY: I was born in Blaina, both pairs of my grandparents lived in Bryn Mawr and I spent a lot of time there as a child. I moved to Pontypool as a youngster to go to school. My father worked in Panteg steel works, then he went to Cardiff College to study PE and Special Education, which then dragged me around the country for ten years whilst he opened the (then) new emerging special school system. During this period, I was stuydying music and arts heavily and was privileged to grow up in areas where music was exploding in the UK in the '80s. My grandmother still lives in Bryn Mawr. Portland is the closest town I've ever seen that reminds me of home: the weather, everything's green and lush, it's a really creative place and it's that bit anti-establishment, "People's Republic of Portland," and all.

CERI: Do you miss home? Hiraeth and all that?

ANDY: Of course I miss home. (ED: At this point in our interview, Andy broke down crying, crushing a leek and an unopened can of Brains SA to his chest and singing 'Green, Green Grass...':) Heads of the Valley is always in my heart.

CERI: Any final message to our readers and the members of Welsh Steel and AmeriCymru?

ANDY: Can't wait to meet some of you! Probably won't get to meet you all this this time but never give up, keep the faith and Cymru Am Byth!

Interview by Ceri Shaw Email

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