|Birth Day:||December 24, 1998|
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Declan McKenna was born in Enfield, Greater London, on 24 December 1998 and grew up in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, where he attended St Mary's Church of England High School. His mother was a teacher while his father worked as a milkman and in local politics. He is primarily of Irish and English descent and, though he no longer considers himself to be religious, he was raised Catholic. He began taking his GCSE exams in the summer of 2015. He later studied for his A-levels in English literature, Philosophy and Ethics, and Sociology, but stopped after a few months after his music career began to consume too much of his time.
In 2015, McKenna entered the Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition. The festival named him the winner of the contest in April 2015, for which he was awarded a £5,000 prize and a slot on the festival's William's Green Stage. NME called him "one of the most sought-after new acts" in the United Kingdom after his win, shortly after McKenna signed a management contract with Q Prime (the management company that represents British indie rock band Foals, amongst others). More than 40 record companies vied to sign him, with McKenna choosing Columbia Records.
In August 2015, McKenna self-released his first single, "Brazil". It was originally released through his own YouTube channel on December 2, 2014. The song criticised FIFA, the governing body of association football, for awarding the FIFA World Cup to Brazil in 2014 without addressing the extensive and deep poverty affecting the people of the nation. McKenna later told DIY that he wrote the song because "it's politics and what I see in the news, and it's just general things I feel strongly about, things happening in my life." "Brazil" garnered McKenna widespread attention, as many sports commentators found the song to be a commentary on the emerging FIFA corruption scandal. (Ironically, McKenna's single "Isombard" appeared on the soundtrack for the 2016 football video game FIFA 17.) Later in the year, he was interviewed on Sky News to discuss his views on football's relationship with poverty. "Brazil" reached number one on the Alt 18 Countdown for 23 January 2016 on the Alt Nation alternative rock radio station on Sirius XM Radio, and repeated as number one a week later, on 30 January.
In November 2015, following the success of "Brazil" and his shows in London, McKenna self-released his second single, "Paracetamol". The five-and-a-half minute song discussed how transgender teenagers are misrepresented in the media. In an interview with Sound of Boston, McKenna explained that the title of the song came from "the idea of using the lyric paracetamol was a way of comparing the belief that someone can be cured from who they are, via therapy, to an everyday painkiller." Matt Wilkinson of NME called "Paracetamol" McKenna's second break-out hit. Although it was not likely to receive radio airplay or top out the charts, Wilkinson argued, the song showed that McKenna was not just another "UK indie troubadour, a little bit oikish and with a nifty talent for mainstream melody", but rather a solid and accomplished songwriter who can deliver "bruised and vulnerable" vocals. Jon Lyons of the music Web site ThisNewBand.com said the song showed a maturity that clearly indicated McKenna was not "just a teen dream or a one hit wonder." Billboard said in early 2016 that McKenna was "making inroads in America" with "Brazil", which charted on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart (for the week ending 27 February 2016) at number 32, rising to number 26 on the 5 March 2016 chart.
McKenna stayed quiet for much of 2016, writing songs in his bedroom for his debut album, but released "Bethlehem" that year, and in late August, his fourth single, "Isombard", which treated right-wing media. He played at several music festivals in England: the NME Awards in February 2016; the Live at Leeds festival over the 2016 May Day bank holiday; The Great Escape Festival in Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, in May 2016; the Standon Calling festival in late July 2016 in Standon, Hertfordshire; and the Field Day music festival in London in June 2016. He made his North American debut at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida, on 11 March 2016. He then played three sets at South by Southwest Music on 15 March 2016. In October 2016, he was confirmed to play at the 31st edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, Netherlands.
McKenna appeared on BBC Music's "Sound of 2017" list at the end of 2016, after releasing the two EPs Stains and Liar that year. The EPs had similar tracklists, with "Brazil" and "Paracetamol" appearing on both. McKenna would release two more singles, "The Kids Don't Wanna Come Home" and "Humongous", before releasing his debut album, titled What Do You Think About the Car? English musician, record producer and composer James Ford, who had produced albums by Arctic Monkeys, Depeche Mode, and Florence and the Machine, produced the album, which was recorded at a Kensal Green recording studio. The album was released on 21 July 2017 and received generally positive reviews. It featured all six of McKenna's previously released singles, as well as five new tracks. All songs on the album were written by McKenna alone, with the exception of "Listen to Your Friends", which was co-written with Rostam Batmanglij. McKenna played at various festivals in 2017, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury Festival and Reading and Leeds Festival.
In 2017, McKenna won the BBC Music Award for BBC Introducing Artist of the Year. He also appeared at the Pilton Party 2017 with Bastille. On 17 January 2018, McKenna released a music video for "Make Me Your Queen".
McKenna performed at Labour Live, a music festival organised by the Labour Party, in June 2018. He voted for the Labour Party in the 2019 general election.
On 19 August 2019, McKenna released the song "British Bombs", which criticises UK foreign policy. He stated that it is specifically about "the hypocrisy of the British arms trade and the weapons convention in London". He wrote it as a result of wanting to write a song directly addressing war. McKenna later announced via Twitter on 18 December that his upcoming second studio album was mastered and ready for release. He also had an artwork shoot for the album on the same day. On 29 January 2020, McKenna revealed that his second album would be titled Zeros and be released on 15 May 2020. He also released the song "Beautiful Faces" as the album's lead single. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he postponed the album until 21 August 2020. In an Instagram post on 5 August 2020, he announced that the album was again delayed until 4 September 2020.
After adopting a somewhat glam rock visual style for his live performances (which included use of eye makeup and glitter), McKenna addressed questions about his sexuality with Attitude magazine by declining to label himself, saying, "I'm young. I'm here to be experimented with." He said he was "learning about a lot of things". He was not being coy, he said, just honest about where he was in his life. In a second interview with Attitude in May 2020, McKenna said of his sexuality he "couldn't put a label on it" but that pansexual may come close, stating "I would never have really said my sexuality is restricted to any gender or anything ... I might call it pansexual, depending on who I’m talking to. I struggle to imagine it in any other way." He stated in that same interview that he was in an open relationship, but did not say to whom.
In July 2020, he signed an open letter to the UK Equalities minister Liz Truss calling for a ban on all forms of LGBT+ conversion therapy.
Currently, Declan McKenna is 24 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Declan McKenna will celebrate 25th birthday on a Sunday 24th of December 2023.
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