The Most Potent Type of Sorcery!

It’s a great pleasure to be doing this first interview for #followadream with such an inspiring (and all-round nice guy) with James Keo, musician & songwriter. We spent some great times together in Mozambique and now I can share a glimpse of what makes him tick. I’m also honoured that this is his first official interview, which turned out to be even more fitting for the project; James was telling me that his first gig been in Cusco, trip to South America being the inspiration for #followadream)

Impromptu performance at Streetbar Called Desire
(John's Place) Tofo, Mozambique

(follow Keo & the Movement on their Facebook page at

Hi James, I met you and Tess in Praia do Tofo, Mozambique toward the end of 2013. We had some great times over a beer or a wine with you pulling out the guitar and giving all present, a rendition of the music that you’re so passionate about.

MC: As a bit of background; how old you are now and where do you live at the moment? 
JK: Well …. currently I am living in Brixton, South London with my girlfriend Tessa, who studies Medicine at UCL. I don’t know how it happened but I am 24 now! I love being 24 actually, in my experience people start treating you more like a ‘real’ adult and less like a student lay-about. It does wonders for your self-esteem too - Quite odd the bearing that a few numbers can have on your life. Anyhow, I digress. I spend my days either in the studio writing, playing then listening back to very loud music with my band, “Keo & The Movement" or I spend my days reading about philosophy in my pants - Its a kind of 70:30 split.

Tessa & James with their
ever present smiles. 

MC: Tell us what makes James Keo a happy and contented guy?
JK: I am certainly ‘getting my kick’ when I play music. To this day I feel that playing music with others is the most potent type of sorcery. It helps that Music was one of the few things my phasic mind actually committed to, so these days I am quite confident in my abilities and in that respect it is certainly one of the most immediately rewarding past-times.

However, in general terms, I am the most happy when I am being useful. I define ‘useful’ mainly as living up to my own potential, i.e. not just spending EVERY day lying in the sun (not that I get a great deal of time for that in England) but making sure I am using my youth and energies for something productive or to get something I want. In my limited experience on this planet I am sure that the worst type of suffering is self-inflicted - saying “I want a tuna sandwich!” but never actually going into the kitchen just seems foolish to me.

But being useful is not confined purely to self-obsessed achievements, living for yourself is just one side of the coin, but I take pleasure being useful to others. Can I be there for others? Can I balance the scales between myself and others, even when the rewards are not immediately obvious? It can be a trial sometimes but it is a nutritious bite of slow-releasing happiness for the soul!

MC: Ok, you have one wish only - what would that wish be right now?
JK: Ok, well right now it is raining outside and I just wanna say … “To live in sunshine for at least 300 days of the year” but lets go for something a bit more ambitious. How about the ability to clone myself so I could make an album and go travelling the world all at one time, whilst retaining the ability to enjoy, relish and remember both those experiences simultaneously. That would be great! 2 lives - capitalising on earthly time!

MC: I noticed you’ve been doing a few gigs (performances) since we last met in Mozambique. What’s been happening music-wise to you since then?
JK: Since I last saw you on those golden shores I have found a great band of players and we have been doing the hard slog playing a load of shows around London, some to hundreds of people and some to just a bar man! But through a total chance meeting with a manager early this year we have been given some financing to make our debut album which is a wonderful opportunity to take my songs, open them up and stitch them back together giving them a whole new life. We have tracked 4 of a potential 12 or 14 tracks which will be making their way to your ear drums imminently. The next step for us, once recording and mixing and all that jazz is finished, will be touring. Possibly Europe? Possible America? In fact we applied to play at Lake Of Stars Festival on Lake Malawi for a laugh! Would love to swing back through Tofo with the band in tow this time.

MC: When did you start playing guitar/singing publicly in front of more than just casually with friends? Where was this?
JK: I was eased into public singing when I was just a young boy, around 10. I sung in my school choir and after finding I had a natural singing voice was asked to do solos in the choir, then individual performances and then I guess it just spiralled from there. I performed musical theatre stuff for a little while until I became a teenager and it suddenly became very ‘uncool’, plus my acting was awful - so I picked up a guitar and just carried on doing the ‘bandy’ thing.

MC: You were part of another group before “Keo & the Movement” that even random tourists in Mozambique seemed to know about. Tell us about that...
JK: Indeed, I am sometimes spotted when I meet the Dutch! Before my time with the Movement I played in a band called “Will & The People” for almost 3 years and we had a hit song in Holland called, “Lion In The Morning Sun”. It was through playing for the band that I got a taste of the highlife, so to speak, and conversely the hard work and self-belief that it takes to ‘make it’ in the Music industry these day. I must say that the being-recognised bit was always the bit I liked the least. It is certainly difficult to have genuine interactions with people who hold this false belief that you are some kind of worship figure. It can really distort your psyche to get so much adoration but so little connection.

MC: How are people now getting hold of you or finding out about your music?
JK: At the moment people hear about us through the shows we play, it is very difficult to cultivate a media platform for yourself until there is a record out but with all of that in the pipeline we are looking forward to putting ourselves out there. There is always Facebook if anyone out there wants to take a listen.

MC: #followadream is about finding out what people’s dreams are and how they are working towards them. What dream is at the top of the list for you - how does your passion for music fit in with it?
JK: Good question. (*long pause for thought*). My dream is to explore and understand as much as possible about this world of ours. Mostly I see that dream realised when I travel, so in a material sense my dream is to travel the world and learn about it’s people. Something which I’m sure you can relate to also Marcell. It’s about pushing the limits of your own comfort to learn something incredible about yourself and possibly about something outside yourself. You never know what that may be either, perhaps it will inspire you to go on and be the next Einstein or at worst just have the time of your life! Either is positive.

Music helps me follow my dream in two ways. Firstly, in the hope that people from all over the world might pick up on our sound, enjoy it and then I will get my traveling kick when we tour there! But secondly, playing Music professionally offers me the chance to supersede the expectation I have of myself - being able to get up and play to 40 or 50 thousand people take big balls in my book and I know as I succeed in reaching these goals I will expand my idea of what I am capable of. I am fortunate because Music is my solace as well as my mountain. Anything that seems like a mountain is worth climbing, just to see if you can reach the top. But, if you don’t, it was still good for the legs - if you catch my drift ...

Live performance at The Music Box, London, UK

MC: What have you done/are you doing to achieve your dream or at least get closer to achieving it?
JK: Aside from Music I am currently looking to volunteer at a school in Sierra Leone this summer, just doing a bit of building and teaching perhaps. A perfect opportunity to give back and explore a new part of the world. I have also decided to re-apply for education and have been excepted to study Social Anthropology and Music at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London come September. The course looks really interesting, I love learning about the ways in which people and cultures interact anyway but as a bonus the course focuses on pretty much anywhere outside Europe, which will feed my hunger for the exotic. I’m sure the chance to learn instruments like the Kora and the Mbira will also inspire some pretty great music too, we already have some very strong Afro-Carribean influences in our music as it is. I am also hoping that my final qualification will enable me to travel more and work all over the world, especially throughout Africa.

MC: Are what you doing now getting you closer to that moment where you can stop for a moment and say “This is my dream!”

JK: Definitely, I am on track and excited for the next steps! Even what we are doing right here on this page …. “This is my dream!” Thank you Marcell.

Thanks for giving us some of your time for this interview and in the words of that old ELO song..."Hold onto your dreams..."


Expedition Logistics, Travel Planning And Tourism Product Development

Discover a comprehensive suite of services anchored in the tourism and hospitality sector. My offerings span travel planning, expedition logistics and support, tourism and hospitality product development, and strategic product and destination marketing.