We’ve been watching Keaton Dekker, a 20-year-old UK creative, with a close eye this year as he rolls out very good, dreamy pop songs which all come together in an EP – his first – called the unwelcome series.
From the creative direction to the filming, the production on the songs – it’s all him. We stan a DIY pop prince.
His relationship to the ‘bedroom pop’ label and his EP, a collection of tracks that speak to young, platonic relationships and the way social media warps them, discussed in this lil chat. Nic Kelly in Bold, Keaton Dekker in not-bold, and listen to the EP here.
Keaton Dekker. What do you want people to know about this EP and yourself before they listen?
Oh, my gosh, I still can’t believe that it’s out?! I think I’ve just been cruising along, like, “haha, my EP’s coming out… but now it’s becoming, like, real. But I love this EP, I think the songs that are now gonna be out everywhere are gonna make everything make more sense, the story is going to make a lot more sense. I think when you listen to it all, in order, it’s just gonna be this universe that you can really dive into. And one that you can dive into many times and hear it a bit differently each time.
One of the great things about becoming a fan of you has been hearing sort of different little moments that have created the Keaton story so far and then hearing them in the context of this, it all just kind of makes sense. Do you something you consider your genre to be at the moment? Is there any kind of one particular sound you want to box yourself into?
Well, before I released music, I really didn’t know how to describe it. I did a bit. But I think after reading some write-ups about my music, I was like, this makes sense. Like, the ‘dream-pop’ thing works, I think. And also like escapist bedroom pop works too? I think it’s very much in its own little place. Describing it is pretty fun!
What’s your relationship to the ‘bedroom pop’ label? Are you making this stuff in your bedroom?
Yeah! In my room. Up there. I would have done this there but there’s no WiFi!
How do you separate your sleep time and personal time from your music time? Is there a method? Is there any one tip that you’ve got? Or do you kind of like it all meshing into one?
Good question. I think for the longest time, I would kind of treat my sleeping time and music time as the same thing. I would “go to bed”… but actually just go upstairs and make music. So it’s always like pretty late that I write… I don’t think I separate them very well. I do have moments throughout the day that kind of divide it. So if I’m writing or recording during the day, I’ll like… have lunch! That means I would have done stuff before and then I would maybe go for a run at like 4ish? Dividing is good!
Are you an everyday runner?
Sometimes! I get on my running hypes. I normally try to do it at least once a week, I would say that is the worst I do. I am pretty on it! I do try to do it as often as possible. If I have like, a video or shoot or something that’s kind of like, building up inside, I have to run every day just so it kind of calms my brain down.
Talk to me about those creative highs, do you kind of find yourself when you know you’ve got a deadline or something to adhere to in a more anxious situation than normal?
For videos, yeah, there’s just a lot to be done. But I would say it’s more of this kind of really intense determination that enters me, and I’m just like, “this needs to be great.” So I don’t really know if I get anxious, just kind of restless and excited to finish. I guess that is kind of anxious!
We’ve heard a couple of tracks off the record so far that have come out. But GG at the top EP really stands out to me, and it feels like a really nice little centerpiece. What does that track about speak to?
One of the themes of the EP is like, moving on from the ties of friendships… I was feeling like, I have never had to leave a person or someone in my life because of something. So the whole EP is basically me figuring that out and trusting myself more in my decisions and being able to listen to myself, because I would put other people’s opinions first, and it wouldn’t really make sense. GG is me in the process of letting that person go, but finding it pretty hard and kind of just reflecting on the whole situation. It starts off the EP in a place that’s kind of really cemented in its ways. And I think, as the EP carries on it spreads out a bit more, and the story is told, but I think that was my most like, in my head song lyrically.
I really like that, because I feel like for a lot of artists, they find a track that really centralises everything for them. And maybe it’s the middle of the EP or album, but you start from this anchor point, and then you kind of get to shake everything out from there. That’s a really unique way of doing things. I also love that this EP talks about platonic relationships and platonic love, rather than the classic first couple of EPs, where folks primarily talk about romantic relationships. Was that a conscious thing to do? Or was it just what was going on in your life at the time?
It was what was going on. That’s why love the songs, I think they’re really not too specific and they could mean a lot of different things. But it’s fun to read sometimes if people think it’s about a relationship, and it’s about love, but I guess every friendship has love in it. That’s why it’s a friendship. I think it was just what I was going through, I was having like a friendship breakup rather than a breakup breakup, it’s the same type of feelings.
It’s the same type of grieving, it’s the same type of growing, and it’s the same type of flourishing after you’ve kind of gotten on the other end of that.
Yeah! I’ve been finding out recently – because these songs are quite old to me, I wrote them in 2018, most of them – so I’m in such a better headspace. I relate to them so differently now, but it’s been funny, kind of visiting old demos of them and seeing what my old lyrics were and seeing where I really was at… I had to kind of revisit that. It was so strange because I was just seeing them as like, finishing the record. Like, finishing the production, rather than looking at the songs again. So it’s been really interesting to revisit, because obviously to everyone else they’re new.
I’m really interested in that process of how you’re kind of in a different place to where these records were. We get to hear this part of you, but what are you feeling right now? What do you think the emotions you’re feeling right now are gonna do for the next stuff that comes from you?
Well, this year has been crazy, right?! I am, in some ways, the best I’ve ever been in my life, like I think the confidence within myself has grown. I feel definitely better than I did two years ago in terms of myself, my spirit and stuff, but, in other elements it’s a bit strange, so we’ll see. I’m so excited. I’ve started writing and some of the stuff is really exciting!