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About Keaton Henson
A singer, songwriter, composer, and illustrator who rarely performs live due to chronic anxiety, Keaton Henson emerged in the public sphere in the early 2010s with the critically acclaimed debut Dear. Originally self-released in 2010, the word-of-mouth response to its anguished, intimate guitar songs led to a Sony reissue in 2012. He quickly expanded his musical palette, mixing in strings and full-band arrangements to 2013's Birthdays. After venturing into electronics for an eponymously titled 2015 release under the alias Behaving, Henson's seventh album, 2019's Six Lethargies, was an instrumental work for string orchestra that explored themes of mental illness.
Born in London in 1988 to actor Nicky Henson and ballerina Marguerite Porter (of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Ballet, respectively), Henson began his career in music as an illustrator, designing album artwork for the likes of Enter Shikari and Dananananaykroyd. Though he worked on music of his own, he didn't intend it for public consumption. When he eventually did upload an album, Dear, to Bandcamp in 2010, it found a sizable audience by way of word of mouth and blogs, where Henson drew comparisons to such luminaries as Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, and Bon Iver. This drew the interest of Sony, which reissued the record in 2012.
With his anxiety extending to deep-set stage fright, Henson went to great lengths to find ways other than conventional touring to help promote his music. For his single "Charon," he hosted an exhibition in East London entitled Gloaming -- also the name of a graphic novel he'd written. The three-day installation allowed fans to enter one at a time and poke their head through a window, where he would play a song one-on-one. He later embarked on limited tours that saw him play to larger audiences, yet in small, atypical spaces such as museums, art galleries, and churches.
Henson's more expansive sophomore outing, Birthdays, arrived in 2013 on Oak Ten Records and Anti-. A year later, the songwriter released an album of instrumentals called Romantic Works, featuring cellist Ren Ford. His next project was a mix of electronics and experimental sound editing, which he issued under the alias Behaving in 2015. That same year, Henson published a limited-edition piano songbook/"visual memoir" with a set of eight previously unreleased songs called 5 Years.
His sixth studio album and fourth to feature his own cover illustration, Kindly Now (Oak Ten, PIAS) saw release in September 2016. It reached the Top 20 of Billboard's Heatseekers chart and spent a week on the album chart in the Netherlands. Following a world premiere in London by Britten Sinfonia, the instrumental album Six Lethargies arrived on Decca imprint Mercury KX in 2019. Henson then returned to songwriting, issuing the emotionally raw Monument in 2020. Addressing his father's long struggle with illness, it featured performances by Radiohead’s Philip Selway (drums, percussion), composer Charlotte Harding (saxophones), and composer/producer Leo Abrahams (guitar). ~ Marcy Donelson & Scott Kerr
- London, England
- Mar 24, 1988
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