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Kieran Rhodes – Backstage at Sound On Sound Festival 2023

Interview by Gracie Gianoukos

Photos by Gracie Gianoukos & Emily Kayayan

So tell us about yourself, who are you? What is it we need to know, or should know, about Kieran Rhodes?

Kieran: My name is Kieran Rhodes, I am 21. I am a piano player, singer-songwriter. Yeah, that’s me. 

You auditioned for Americas Got Talent where you performed your song “Disengage”, tell us anything you’d like about the experience. 

Kieran: That whole experience was crazy because I never signed up for it. I never would’ve sat in the line or auditioned, I was playing in Boston and I had just written “Disengage” and this lady in the audience, who was an AGT producer, Courtney. She called me two weeks later and was like “I was at your show, you need to come on the show and play that song”. I felt like I could get recognized for who I really am on that show rather than The Voice, American Idol. I am a songwriter, so I felt like I could be known more for that. I never knew it could resonate with America as much as it did and I am incredibly grateful for that.It really aligned with people and they shared their stories and struggles with depression. I am so grateful for the experience and I will never forget it. 

That’s beautiful. I love that. A lot of people resonated towards your lyrics in your performance. Would you mind touching on them more or the importance of songwriting in general?

Kieran: For me it’s usually piano first. I’ll sit down and play the piano and have the melody. Once I have the piano part, that part on it feels out of my hands. Something that I can’t explain happens; a concept occurs and then it just writes itself. 

It’s like a snowball effect. It just all crescendos into one big piece. 

Kieran: Yeah. It’s a super special experience. 

It is a gift for sure. How is it like being an artist while studying at Berklee? Do you find it easy to juggle? 

Kieran: It’s crazy, really crazy. I have no time. When I am not working on school stuff, I am working on artist stuff; especially this early in my career. It’s stressful but I am grateful to be at a college like Berklee surrounded by the music world. I would say I should probably be doing my homework more frequently. You may get a gig and you have to leave, but they will let you take that pause and come back afterward. 

Well what better school to go to that is literally for music for them to understand that these opportunities happen and you may have to go on a tour, etc. Do you find going to school for art, more specifically music, is helpful towards your career? 

Kieran: I mean sure if you’re going to learn, then do it. Being self taught, like I am, I had so much more to learn about music. It’s a tough question because you can go either way. Honestly it’s a preference. But if you can somehow do it & afford it, go for it. You’re only going to learn. I’ve met my whole network and I wouldn’t be at this festival if it weren’t for Berklee. I would have been on America’s Got Talent if it weren’t for Berklee. Berklee has put a lot of opportunities in front of me and I am grateful for that. 

Shoutout Berklee. Your most recent song “If I Had A Time Machine” came out exactly one month ago today, would you mind telling us a little about the single?

Kieran: I posted that song on TikTok last year and it kinda blew up a little bit. I am a piano player, but the one song I put on TikTok was guitar and I’m like what the hell? What is this? Like why? I’m trying to get this piano thing going. But I was like alright, I’ve got to release it. I don’t know how it took a year, but we finally got around to it. Me and my friend from Berklee, who is also the base player in my band, shut ourselves in a bedroom for like two days and just cranked it out. It was fun, it was a blast. Then we released it plus a music video. I love it and people loved it too. Also, I don’t know if you know this but our set got rained out and canceled yesterday. 

What? So you literally are just here?

Kieran: Yeah, that’s been the thing. The first three sets got canceled the first day because of the rain, we were the second one. So we have been pretty bummed out. 

I am so sorry to hear that. As an artist I can understand how frustrating that must be. How have you all been coping with this? 

Kieran: It’s the career we set up for, these things are going to happen. As we get older, these things are going to feel less and less. In five to ten years, if this were to happen it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. Because we’d probably be going on tour next week. It’s just because this is the beginning right now it feels like the one thing, but it’s not. 

It’s all apart of the process. Everything happens for a reason, so hold onto that. 

Kieran: Oh yeah. I am a firm believer in that. 

Just know that something else is coming soon. 

Kieran: For sure. I appreciate that. 

If there is one thing you want the world to know, now is your time to say it. What do you have to say?

Kieran: I’d say come to a show, listen to the music. I know y’all are gonna love it.

Perfect, well thank you so much.

Kieran: Yeah!! Thank you. 

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