Trish Keenan

Last updated

Trish Keenan
Trish Keenan 2010.jpg
Keenan performing in 2010
Background information
Birth namePatricia Anne Keenan
Born(1968-09-28)28 September 1968
Winson Green, Birmingham, England
Died14 January 2011(2011-01-14) (aged 42)
Warwick, Warwickshire, England
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
Instruments
Years active1995–2011
Labels Warp
Associated acts

Patricia Anne Keenan (28 September 1968 – 14 January 2011) [2] was an English musician and singer. She was the lead vocalist and founding member of the electronic band Broadcast, which she formed in 1995. The band released a total of five studio albums, including The Noise Made by People (2000), Haha Sound (2003), and Tender Buttons (2005), and earned a cult following. [2]

Contents

Keenan died unexpectedly in January 2011 of pneumonia, shortly after she had contracted swine flu while completing a tour of Australia with Broadcast.

Early life

Patricia Anne Keenan was born in Winson Green, a multicultural inner-city area in west Birmingham, England. She had two brothers, Malcolm and John, and two sisters, Maxine and Barbara. [3] She was raised by her mother Zena, [3] who was a prostitute: "I have got no problem with people knowing me or any personal details about myself," Keenan commented. "I have had a crazy life: I was brought up by a prostitute." [4]

Keenan attended Archbishop Grimshaw Roman Catholic school, presently known as John Henry Newman Catholic school. She worked a range of catering jobs after school until at the age of 21 when she moved to Moseley, a bohemian enclave. [3] She studied Creative Writing at Birmingham University while working on her music career. [3]

Career

Soon after moving to Moseley, Keenan formed a musical duo called Hayward Winters, and subsequently met James Cargill at a 1960s psychedelic revival club. The two of them formed a relationship over their shared interest and formed a folk band, Pan Am Flight Bag. The band was short-lived only performing two gigs before they reformed in 1996 as Broadcast, which included guitarist Tim Felton, drummer Steve Perkins, and keyboardist Roj Stevens. [2] [5]

With Broadcast, Keenan released a total of five studio albums, including The Noise Made by People (2000), Haha Sound (2003), and Tender Buttons (2005); [6] [7] [8] Keenan wrote the latter while her father was dying of cancer. [4] In 2009 the group released a collaborative album Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age , with The Focus Group, the music project of graphic designer Julian House (who also designed all of Broadcast's album sleeves). [9]

Keenan lived in and near Birmingham throughout her life, and her music career was based there. In an interview with Billboard , she said: "There's really a down tone in Birmingham. People here definitely underplay themselves. There's definitely a lack of confidence, and almost a resignation and defeatism among musicians here." [10]

Artistry

Musical style

Keenan possessed an alto vocal range. [11] Music critics noted Keenan's vocals as "childlike" and "alluringly aloof," [12] often "woven within squishy analog synths, pastoral melodies, and mod-style rhythms." [13] In a review published in Spin in 2001, Keenan's vocals and instrumentation alongside bandmate James Cargill were likened to being "stuck in a time warp–the sound of '70s wife-swapping parties with beanbags and unhappy children serving sausages on sticks." [14] Keenan often explored cut-up lyric techniques, inspired partly by her interest in the occult. [3]

Performances

Keenan suffered from stage fright in the beginnings of her career, and earned a reputation for "shoegazing onstage introversion." [15] As the band progressed, however, Keenan's stage fright receded: "I used to get nervous like the whole of that day of the show, and now it only happens the moment I walk onstage," she said in a 1998 interview. "When you listen to me sing my first line, you can always tell my heart is in my throat. Headlining gigs is a confidence booster." [15]

Death

During a tour in Australia just before Christmas, Keenan contracted the swine flu virus H1N1. [16] It was reported on 14 January 2011 that she had died in the hospital. [17] A statement by Warp Record Label said: "This is an untimely, tragic loss and we will miss Trish dearly - a unique voice, an extraordinary talent and a beautiful human being. Rest in peace." [18]

Within hours of her death, a link was posted on Broadcast's Twitter to a mix of psychedelic, folk, and world music that Keenan had made for a friend prior to leaving for the band's Australian tour. [19] Shortly after, an intimate short film Keenan recorded on Super 8 was released, which showed festival-goers at the 2007 Moseley Folk festival. [19] Tributes to Keenan were made by numerous musicians, including Toro y Moi, Graham Coxon of Blur, and Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. [19]

Discography

Broadcast

Guest appearances

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References

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