The rise to fame of Keaton Henson has been an unusual one thanks to the attention given to his ongoing battle with nerves, a stigma which has apparently led to him declining to play live in the traditional sense of the word. Exposure of his music has been helped along by Rough Trade who made ‘Dear…’ their album of the month, Zane Lowe also played a helping hand with the airplay of the unlikely heartbreak anthem ‘You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are’ which accelerated his word of mouth success. This breakthrough moment will be officially marked with the release of his ‘Lucky EP’ which will be released on July 23, via Oak Ten Records.
Despite ongoing nerves following a bad case of stage fright when performing at Sadler’s Wells in 2010 he has found imaginative if not uncoventional ways of overcoming this hurdle which looms ever larger through the media lens. One performance which has caught attention was his ‘Gloaming’ installation and exhibition. This featured Henson’s illustrative work and graphic novel which was inspired by old Scandinavian folklore and Japanese Kwaidan (ghost stories) from the Edo period. The performance centred on Keaton playing one-on-one for fans, projected from a next door room into a dollshouse. He has also established ‘Forts’ – a series of streamed shows in unusual circumstances (the latest instalment saw Henson paint a billboard for the album at a secret London location). Slowly but surely, Keaton has taken to playing the occasional unannounced show.
On his latest video ‘To Your Health’ Henson uses ballet dancer Elizabeth Harrod to add his inner expression as well as visual tone to the song during which he sits performing as a removed and out of focus figure. Whilst this may be construed as a reflection of his inhibitions the results are beautiful.