Born in 1998, Declan McKenna is a singer and songwriter who plays his own style of indie rock. The musician is able to play a number of instruments and is proficient on the guitar, the piano and the mandolin, as well as being an accomplished vocalist. After starting to perform live sets in 2014, the singer first gained widespread acclaim following the Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015, which he won. A few independently released tracks followed on from this early success before McKenna was signed to Columbia Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, in 2016.
Declan McKenna's career highlights
Following his success in the Glastonbury competition, McKenna released his song “Brazil” for digital download. Essentially, this was a protest song that criticised the powers that run football for their stewardship of the FIFA World Cup in that country in 2014. Released in 2015, the track got to the top spot on the Alt Nation charts of Sirius XM Radio. In the United States, the track also made significant headway for McKenna. It ended up reaching a high of number 16 in the Billboard Alternative Charts. “Brazil” made the most mainstream progress in Japan, where it got to number 45 in the main charts, and France, where it was also a minor hit.
Following “Brazil”, major label interest came McKenna’s way. He chose to sign with Columbia and immediately began work on his debut studio album. While he was spending time in the studio, the singer and songwriter also found time for a few live performances around his home country. An EP named Liar, offering a taste of his studio work, came out in 2016.
McKenna put out What Do You Think About the Car? in July of 2017. It featured his standout single, “Brazil”, as well as a number of other tracks, which were released as singles. These included “The Kids Don’t Want to Come Home”, “Why Do You Feel so Down?” and “Bethlehem”. Both the Guardian and the New Musical Express rated the album with four stars. It was described as a ‘cracking debut’ in the press and drew favourable comparisons with the likes of David Bowie. What Do You Think About the Car? got to number 11 in the UK album charts and reached a high of 26 in Ireland.
2017 ended up being a busy year for the artist. He played at the Coachella festival, following it up with an appearance at Lollapalooza. That year also saw a return to the stage at Glastonbury; the festival that had made his name just a few years before. In addition, McKenna has appeared at the Reading and Leeds festivals.