Here we speak to Eliot Kennedy about his Mental Health Awareness Week album.
Q. What inspired you to write 'Hidden Wounds'?
In 2013, I travelled to Camp Bastion with Gary Barlow for an ITV documentary, Journey to Afghanistan. Last year I met Jo, the daughter of Jimi Heselden, who invented the blast wall bastion, which the camp was named after. This invention has saved countless lives in conflicts across the world. Jimi donated millions to Help for Heroes before he died in a tragic accident aged 62.
His daughter Jo, a singer, wanted to continue her dad’s legacy. We specifically want to raise awareness this Mental Health Awareness Week for the mental health services for veterans.
Hidden Wounds is about losing someone. For Jo that was her dad - the concept is you can’t see the psychological wounds, so it’s difficult to really know if anyone is really suffering. You can see missing limbs, but anything psychological, even a breaking heart, you can’t see.
Q. Do you believe in the restorative power of music?
I’ve always said that music is the backstage pass to everybody’s soul. It has the ability to open people up, so I’m very much a believer.
Q. Do you have a particular song that makes you laugh or cry or makes you remember a significant moment in your life?
Kate Bush and the Hounds of Love album was a massive thing for me when I was growing up, going through a very difficult personal time. I had the privilege of going to see her at the Hammersmith Apollo and I was in tears. Her music manages to do all the right things; it’s incredibly emotional.
Q. Kayne West, Britney Spears and other big stars such as Robbie Williams have suffered public breakdowns, is the music industry to blame do you think?
The manager Shep Gordon said he’s never come across someone that fame didn’t ruin.
Pop by its very nature is fickle. It’s sad when you see these band reunion programmes and they’re changed or damaged. I’ve seen it happen. People think that you’re amazing, and you start to believe it. They’re not prepared for the power they get to wield, and they’re definitely not prepared for it when that power is taken away. There’s an immense feeing of loss to deal with around a sense of power that was never really theirs in the first place. The only people who really get it, are those people who know it isn’t real, it was just borrowed.
Q. How do you keep your feet on the ground?
I love getting on stage with a band and playing, but it’s just because I’m a musician and I enjoy the process. Once the gig’s done I want to go home. Some people have the want and a desire to be recognised, but I don’t have it and I’m so glad I don’t.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to go into the music industry?
You’ve got to be prepared to do twice more than you think you would do at your best. You’ve got to be prepared to work twice as hard than you ever dreamed that you’d have to do, probably for less money that you ever believed, for twice as long. Make sure you’re open to opportunities and taking risks. Lots of people take the path of least resistance, that doesn’t lead to the top of the mountain.
Q. You’ve moved from writing pop hits to musicals with Gary Barlow and TV/film soundtracks, why?
I was always the hired gun for labels to write the single. Doing the musical Finding Neverland, gave me opportunity to be far more emotional in the lyric and the melody. Finding Neverland is coming to the UK at some point, and we’ve another musical in production, Around the World in 80 Days. I’m spending a lot of time doing music for film and television; it’s nothing but emotion. I don’t feel as compelled to make pop records. It feels more appropriate to where I’m at in my life and what I’m motivated by.
Q. What is your perfect day?
I’m at my happiest when I’ve got my kids here at the house. I still get a buzz out of work, but it doesn’t compare to a sunny day and being out in the garden having a barbecue, it’s about having those guys around me and feeling like a family’s meant to feel like. That’s the best feeling ever.
Hidden Wounds, featuring Joanne Heselden-Edwards, is available on Friday 12 May via iTunes and Amazon. All profits go to Help for Heroes. Find out more at www.hiddenwoundsconcert.com.