Hi Kieran! Thank you for taking the time to chat today. You recently released your new single, ‘Hail Mary’. The lyrics cover the struggles of a loved one getting sick and a single mum trying to take care of her children, both of which feel especially pertinent in a pandemic. What was the inspiration behind the decision to centre the song around these personal stories?
I struggled last year, and it was a tough, dark time for a lot of people. I wanted this track to be uplifting in a universal way. The vignettes of the mother in the first verse, and the older man in the second verse, and looking at how she needs a Hail Mary, he needs a Hail Mary, and then at the end we all need a Hail Mary. There are moments in our lives where we need a miracle, and we sometimes just need to admit that we need a little help. I didn’t set out to write a religious song, it’s more about being open and looking at the world around you. Whether it be from spirituality or from friends and family, everyone needs a helping hand.
What’s the main message you want listeners to take away from this song?
I would say the main message would be just to have faith, we’re all in this together, dig deep, and you can always seek help in any shape or form. You’re not alone - ever.
‘Hail Mary’ finishes on a very optimistic note - how difficult was it to find this space of positivity and hope when creating the song amidst all the negativity of the pandemic?
I think I used this as a bit of a therapy for myself, just to tell myself that it’s all going to be fine. There’s a lyric in the song - “There will always be better days, praying with a heart full of grace” - so it was one of those things where it was helping me out as well as helping the listeners out. It was very therapeutic, and after I wrote it I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
"After I wrote it, I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders."
Your comeback single, ‘The Reason’, explored themes of staying true to yourself and never forgetting ‘the reason why’. What is your personal ‘reason why’?
Good question! Everyone’s got their reason to never give up and shine that light into the black. For me, I come from a very adventurous family - my great grandparents relocated from Scotland to Australia at the flip of a coin, and then at 26 I left Australia and moved to England without knowing anyone. My reason was to live life and to find my way in the world. Again, it’s another universal theme - everyone’s reasons are a little different, but everyone has a reason why.
You won the Australian talent show, Star Maker, in 2002 and released 2 high-charting singles, before taking an 18 year hiatus. What motivated you to step away from music, and was it difficult readjusting to life away from the industry after the success you’d had?
It was a little difficult. I mean, firstly it was difficult adjusting to life in the music industry after living in a very small cane-farming community in North Queensland. I was 21 at the time - I was thrust into the national spotlight and was doing a big tour. I remember I had a phone bill that was two thousand Australian dollars for the month, because I was calling my mum up bursting into tears, just being like “I don’t know what I’m doing”. I was just ‘faking it ’til you make it’. It was tough, but again, I look back on those days as some of the most incredible things because I learnt so much, I met so many incredible people, and those people have led me to where I am today. It’s all on this perfect, meant-to-be journey. I look on it as a blessing, and I’m a lot stronger for it in a lot of ways.
Your songs are very emotionally unguarded, which is really refreshing. Something I take away from your music is the importance of just expressing how you feel, even if you think it’s going to make you look weak or vulnerable. The issue of toxic masculinity is a big topic of discussion at the moment. Given how honest your songs are, what advice would you give guys about expressing themselves, even when it feels difficult to do so?
I think there’s definitely power in vulnerability and weakness. My heart’s on my sleeve, it always has been, and I think that’s one of my greatest assets. My advice would be to just start talking, and stop worrying what people think of you. Someone told me this amazing quote a couple of years ago and it’s really stuck with me - they said, ‘What people think of you is none of your business'. It’s kind of saying 'You do you boo'. Be open, be honest, and start talking, because we do live in a crazy time. With the negativity on social media, sometimes it does get a bit foggy. If you don’t talk, it just keeps piling up and it can feel like too much. But if you start vocalising and doing things for you, and not worrying about anything else, then hopefully that’s a step in the right direction.
You’ve said previously that it was performing at the 40th anniversary of Star Maker in 2019 that inspired you to start releasing music again, and you also did an awesome live stream for our very first Launch Fest. Can fans look forward to you doing some gigs once the pandemic is over?
Hopefully! I got back from the Star Maker performance and then put on a show in the West End which sold out shortly after that. I would love to go out and sing the songs, especially now that I’ve got a few more coming out. I really enjoy performing live. But I also now love the recording process too, even though I hated it when I was younger. Now it’s on my dime and they’re my songs. Even though I did write the two Star Maker singles, I was so young and I was just like, ‘Yes I’ll do that’ and ‘Yes I’ll do this’. I’ve grown in confidence a thousand percent. I’ve got those life skills behind me and I can stand my ground. I’ve learnt to say ‘no’, whereas before I didn’t think I was worthy enough to have a voice. But I do have one now.
"Before, I didn't think I was worthy enough to have a voice.
What are your plans for 2021?
I’ve got three more singles after ‘Hail Mary’ that are in the works. I’m very excited about the next song I’m going to release after ‘Hail Mary’ - it’s something completely different. I’m dipping into a territory I’ve never gone into before in terms of the vocals - it’s Country-Blues-ish. Then there’s a duet, and then another Country-Pop song.
In the modern world where everything has to be thought-out, rationalised and planned, it can sometimes feel more difficult to just take a leap of faith. What does faith look like to you?
That’s an interesting question. Faith to me is belief. Faith to me is inner strength. Faith to me is being unafraid. Religiousness aside, it’s about looking into your own soul. You should be the centre of your universe. You control your destiny. You have the power to live your best life. So always believe in your true self. Send it out to the universe, write it down, work towards a goal.
Finally, one question we ask all our interviewees is to name their top 3 songs with a theme of mental health. What would be yours?
1. So Small - Carrie Underwood
There’s a line in that song - “That mountain you've been climbing is just a grain of sand” - which I always keep in my mind. No matter how hard things get, it’s just going to be a grain of sand when you look back on it. If I’m getting stressed, I ask myself, ‘Am I going to be worrying about this in five years?’ If not, then it shouldn’t be worth worrying about now.
2. The Rainbow Connection - The Muppets
This one is like a warm hug to me. It’s all about belief and faith, and about having nothing to hide. I grew up loving The Muppets and this song has a very special place for me. It helps me when things get tough to just put it on, and suddenly I feel a bit more zen.
3. Man in Motion - John Parr (from the film St. Elmo’s Fire)
I listened to this song on repeat when I moved to the UK. It’s a song about empowerment and spreading your wings, and it’s helped me charge on and face the day. It’s very uplifting and it’s one of those songs I wish I’d written! These are the songs that either help me move forward or just take a step back and recharge.
Kieran Lancini's new single 'Hail Mary' is out now on all platforms!