Chase von: I seem to be seeing a recurring trend in many of the people I have had the opportunity to interview. Perhaps in my case, because I was so indoctrinated with the military life style, it was a natural choice for me to pursue it. I think over all, if anything it has in fact helped me as a writer because of the variety of experiences that I have had that few do. But as a child, I always knew no matter what I was, I would always consider myself first a writer. You, like Alina, Kimberly Prendez, like myself, like Crystal Myrick and even Judyth Piazza and so many others, it seems, were pretty much the "A' typical child that was destined to become a musician and I say that because your interests led you down that road at a very young age.
It also helps that you have a fantastic voice and from the female following you have, great looks. (smile) As a man, I just thought I would mention that so that our female readers can check that out for themselves. But for me, writing is when I feel like I am in my element. Are you also now that you are producing moving inspirational music, in the place, so to speak, that you feel you are in your natural element for your soul's calling?
Kashy: I feel that my relationship with music will always be my closest and most enduring. I do absolutely feel as though I am totally in my element whenever I am listening to or composing music. Through the good times and the bad, I can always rely on music to be there for me. I definitely feel as though I was destined to find a keyboard and start composing melodies. The piano is just one of those things in life that I instantly connected with-- it just made sense to me and it has been like my best friend ever since.
I think empathy drives me most of the time to want to try and uplift and empower people through my songwriting. I feel as though I just want to try and share the inner strength that I have gained through listening to certain artists and the impact that their inspirational songs have had on me. I am in awe of the power of music and its ability to touch and move people in the most profound way. Certain songs can be life altering and, if it is my calling to be a songwriter, then I just hope that, in my own small way, I can give back to others what music has given me and touch people's lives in a positive way.
Chase von: Your music is remarkable! But that isn't the only thing that you have done that is truly incredible! This is the second time I am interviewing someone that is quite used to being on the other side of this. (smile) Can you tell our readers more about how you started pitching your ideas to magazines, entering competitions and being recognized for your talents and eventually, all by the time you were 15, interviewing some of the biggest Pop Stars of the time? And can you drop some of those names here? (smile)
You also were named the ITN/Sightsavers Young Journalist of the year in 1999. And you got to interview the incredibly famous film director Steven Spielberg? What was that like speaking with a verifiable legend in our own time?
Kashy: Initially, I did intend to pursue a career in journalism. I was very precocious as a child and I showed some early promise with regard to creative writing. I much preferred writing as a means of communication because it was less direct and I had more time to consider what I wanted to express. It also comes down to being an introvert and fairly shy that made writing my preferred choice of communication.
I was driven by the allure of celebrity to try and interview a lot of the pop stars that were big in the UK charts when I was growing up. I used to submit feature ideas to magazine editors offering to write from a young person's perspective. I grew to be quite successful at this and had a series of interviews published in a lot of the teen publications. I ended up interviewing a fair few of the pop acts that were around at the time like NSYNC, The Spice Girls, Ricky Martin. I also did work placements with MTV UK a couple of times. It was so much fun being able to interview these people at an age when I was still totally sucked in by all of the hype surrounding them, etc.
I also flew to Orlando, Florida to review the opening of the then new theme park 'Island's of Adventure' at Universal Studios for a children's news show here in the UK called 'Newsround.' Steven Spielberg was the Creative Director for 'Jurassic Park Island' and I was given a 5-minute slot to interview him about his first impressions of the new park. It was a surreal moment, but I was still young and ignorant enough at the time not to be made too nervous and intimidated by him. It's a memory that will stay with me for a life time.
Chase von: Also, by the time you were just 15, you attended a 12-week singing workshop run by The London Community Gospel Choir. You've been quoted as saying that "The human voice is the most powerful instrument there is." And I wasn't even aware you had heard me sing! Just kidding. (smile) Would you say that the time spent there was what sealed your direction in life? And also you, like a few others, have mentioned the Queen Of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Who are some of the other singers you truly admire?
Kashy: Never heard you sing Chase so can't comment. (smile) But I still feel that there is no greater instrument than the human voice by which to communicate emotion and stir emotion in others. I was always drawn to singers who delivered lyrics with a palpable sense of emotion. I was blown away by the power of gospel singers and just how emotionally raw a style of singing it could be. My experience of attending the workshop choir run by The London Community Gospel Choir was a seminal influence on my life. The technique and ability of some of the singers that I heard there simply blew my mind. It was so uplifting and so awe-inspiring, I just knew from that moment on that singing was becoming my release, my one avenue to be heard and to give voice to all of the emotion inside me that I had always been too shy to express or share.
I admire singers like Aretha, Whitney, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Luther Vandross, Eva Cassidy, Mariah Carey. The main thing for me is honesty. Technique and vocal acrobats are all very well but personally, the main thing that I listen out for in a vocal delivery is sincerity.
Chase von: You, who has done so many things in your life to date, are truly a champion of the underdog! Your music is all about hope, inspiration and following dreams. Your song "Unsung Heroes" is particularly moving. As are all your songs, but what was your inspiration for writing it? You also have a part in it where you sing:
"They'll tell you you're not worthy
They'll shatter all your dreams
Make you feel like you're invisible
And crush your self belief
Oh it's a cruel world
With little justice at all
And the ones on top won't make it stop
So convinced that they might fall."
The whole song is very emotionally moving, but when I heard that I couldn't help but think of something that happened to me early on. I showed a teacher a poem I had written that she had actually inspired, and she didn't believe I had written it. She thought that I had copied it from someone older in my own hand writing and forced me to write another poem while everyone in the class was doing something else.
For many years after, because of that, I didn't share what I had written with adults. Similarly, Crystal Myrick was told by one teacher, she would never be a writer and because of that gave it up completely for a very long time. She even threw away all that she had written previously because of this teachers negative comments. Later, another teacher told her she did have talent and encouraged her to pursue her dreams. Now she is an Entertainment Reporter.
You have an amazing CD out now simply called "Kashy Keegan CD," but was there a similar time in your life when someone tried to discourage you, perhaps someone you viewed as an authoritative figure from pursuing your dreams? And what do you think others who find themselves dealing with what I call "Dream Vampires" should do, besides purchase your CD? (smile)
Kashy: "Dream Vampires," I really like that analogy. I think I learnt the hard way never to let anybody discourage me or crush my enthusiasm for what it is I love to do most. I have experienced my fair share of knock-backs and rejections-- I have honestly lost count of the number of times that people have fed me false hope and built me up only to knock me back down again. As my mother always said to me, "It's the grit in the oyster shell that ultimately forms the pearl." The hard times definitely shape us and define our integrity. Whilst I have developed a thicker skin, I have learnt that the people that we most want to believe in us aren't God, at the end of the day. Although their opinion may carry weight, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are always right. These people aren't God and they don't know everything. What matters most is what you think of yourself. You can't spend your life people-pleasing; otherwise, you will just end up losing who you are altogether. As long as you are satisfied in your own heart with the person that you are and what you are setting out to achieve, then that is all that truly matters. We all want to feel valued and appreciated, but sometimes, we have to validate ourselves and find strength through living out our own truth. I think that life is too short to afford the luxury of a negative thought. It's so easy to become a victim of things that have happened in the past and allow those experiences to dictate our future. We don't have to become stuck in victim mode. I believe that our thoughts ultimately shape our reality and by shifting our thoughts and feelings towards truly believing that our dreams are attainable, then we stand every chance of realizing our full potential.
There are a tremendous amount of hard-working and talented people out there who are never given the recognition or praise that they deserve. We see celebrities basking in the limelight all the time. Often it seems that there is no end to their quest for attention and adoration. I wrote 'Unsung Heroes' for all of the people who work behind the scenes, all the people that we never hear about who make a positive difference in their communities. People who, throughout history, have been paid a pittance for their stellar contribution to this world. People who are insanely talented and skilled but are never given the lucky break that they deserve. Currently, I work in a hospital and I see first hand all the nurses, doctors, cleaners etc. who surely deserve more in the way of recognition and value. I really dislike avarice and greedy, mercenary people whose egos know no shame.
Chase von: How important is family to you, and what is your take on the state of our current world?
Kashy: Family and friendships mean everything to me. I believe that love is the only legacy that is truly worth anything. At the end of the day, as I see it, you enter this world with nothing and you leave this world the same. Material assets and possessions, in that respect, are highly insignificant. At the very most, people will remember you for the way that you made them feel. I have been very fortunate to have been blessed with two outstanding parents whose love and support for me has always been unconditional. I consider my parents to be my closest friends in the world. In this corrupt world where the emphasis is too often put on money, power and status, it's very easy to become caught up in all that's superficial and lose track of what truly holds real value. I know what I am living for and that keeps me sane. Finding, knowing and giving love is the best feeling in the world. The times when I am most happy are the times when I am around my friends and family-- all the anxieties, pressures and fears that I keep tend to just dissolve away in those precious moments.
Chase von: What would you say, if you were standing in front of a microphone that could be heard by every child on the planet and regardless of what language it was they spoke, they would understand you? What positive advice would you give the children, if that were possible?
Kashy: I would say hold onto what makes you unique and never let anyone put you down. Just because you are different in some way doesn't make you inferior. I would say be yourself, because no matter who you are, there will always be someone who disapproves. You can't please all of the people all of the time. If you have love, honor and respect for yourself then it will be mirrored back.
Chase von: Will you share with our readers how they can find your music and more about you? Your links and web pages? Also, are there any projects you are working on you care to share? Or any scheduled performances coming up you can let our readers know about?
Kashy: My first EP 'Kashy Keegan' is available for purchase through my Myspace page, www.myspace.com/kashykeegan
, it is also available for download at itunes and several other digital download stores.
Chase von: On behalf of The Student Operated Press and myself Kashy, truly thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to do this. I want to also wish you continued success and I do hope more and more people get the opportunity to enjoy the inspirational messages of hope you so consistently sing about! And a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well, Brother!
Kashy: I have really, really enjoyed answering your questions. There is real depth and thought behind the questions that you have asked. Thank you for this honor.