Music That Made Me is our weekly post and is published every Monday throughout this year. It steps away from new music and takes a nostalgic look back at some of our musical influences and the memories that are attached. This week our planned article has been re-scheduled for next week, and instead we pay our own personal tribute to Trish Keenan, lead singer of Broadcast, who died last Friday.
When I first read that Trish Keenan of the band Broadcast was in intensive care in hospital with pneumonia it was a little startling - she was virtually the same age as me. A day later I sat watching a scrolling feed on Twitter that suggested that she had died. At first these 140 character unconfirmed tweets left me feeling numb, but then as links to an official statement from her record company appeared I couldn't help but shed a few tears. This is not my normal pattern of behaviour when a musician dies. The whole concept of feeling deep emotional sadness for someone you’ve never met is pretty alien to me, and as I become older I’m more and more cynical of overblown celebrity culture where X-Factor styled popstars sell their personalities and personal lives and the music is just a by-product.
Yet Trish Keenan and her band Broadcast were far removed from this world and for me there was a personal connection – I saw the band play live for the first time at the ill-fated Phoenix Festival at Long Marston airfield in Stratford upon Avon in the mid to late 90's, when they were releasing their early singles collection Work and Non Work. It was one of those classic summer festival finds – wandering into a half empty tent in the middle of the day and within minutes becoming utterly beguiled by their mix of 60’s ghost-pop, retro-futurism and Trish’s mellow deadpan feminine vocal. A few weeks later I was asked by a new fashion magazine called Noise Crash if I could lend a hand with a regular musical feature in their magazine. The editor wanted recommendations for new up and coming bands, and my immediate suggestion was Broadcast. Before I knew it an interview had been arranged and I was chatting to Trish about her band and their music - it was the first ever time a musician, and thankfully Trish made the job really easy.
I remember her being a little taken aback when I asked her if she wanted fame and she replied that she would be pleased to be known for her music, but would never want to be like a famous pop star. Looking back it seems that Trish achieved her ambition. Broadcast have been a quietly influential band, and as time went on evolved from a late night sideshow curio liked by people like myself to a highly regarded and respected musical outfit – primarily because their art was always their own vision and always interesting - haunting experimental pop music.
Central to the critical success Broadcast achieved was always Trish’s voice – dreamy, subtle and almost nonchalantly elegant. It’s a cliché I know, but Trish’s death really will be a loss to music.
There have of course been many other young or relatively young musicians of higher profile than Trish who have passed away, but none of them have meant as much as Trish Keenan did to me. Trish’s death last Friday was awful news and my thoughts are with her family and friends.