Declan McKenna on working with CMAT: “She’s got the gift of the gab”

Declan McKenna has spoken to NME about working with CMAT, as well as his plans for Glastonbury and new material.

The singer-songwriter and past Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition winner was speaking to NME backstage at last week’s BBC Radio One Big Weekend, where hailed fellow performer CMAT over the work they did together on her latest album, ‘Crazymad, For Me‘.

“We’ve got a song called ‘Vincent Kompany’ that we wrote together and I helped her out with,” he said.  “Her brain works incredibly quickly when you’re working with her.

“She’s got the gift of the gab, which is part of her songwriting capabilities, always coming up with little quips. Lots of fun times.”


He added that the pair have also “written a few other bits that could come to fruition”.

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McKenna, who recently announced a UK headline tour, also spoke about his upcoming set at this year’s Glastonbury festival.


“It will be my fifth time playing, and a bigger show than I’ve had before,” he said. “It will be my first time there with full visuals and we have a fairly late spot compared with the ones I’ve done before, so it feels like the show will be a different energy.”

McKenna also made headlines when he performed on iconic kids’ TV show Blue Peter earlier this year.

“I don’t really know how that came about but it was really cool,” he said. “It was something that I grew up watching and I got my Blue Peter badge, which I’m absolutely chuffed with,” he said.

“I love kids TV and music and I feel there’s something really great about all the old Sesame StreetsPaul Simon played on it and I really like the idea of making music for that sort of thing in the future because there’s something nostalgic and pure about it.


He added: “I’m a big fan of that whole genre really.”

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Talking about the response to his third album ‘What Happened to the Beach?’, McKenna said he was pleased that fans had taken to it as “something different”.

“People have taken each album differently, depending on what they want from it, but overwhelmingly it’s been very positive,” he said. “I’m really happy with it and, with each album, I’m trying to do something that feels like I’m pushing myself into something else and not just trying to give people the same hit and kick.”

McKenna added that he had already started working on new music, but he’s still “figuring out which avenue to go down.

“I have stuff left over from the last project, and then there’s stuff that’s almost the polar opposite because I wanted to do something a bit more stripped back,” he said. “It’s just about deciding the direction, but it’s good in a way because I think, working the way that I do, where I set my sights on a project being one particular way, it really sends you in a direction.

“It’s like ‘next time I’ve got to do the opposite as that’s where I’m full of ideas, where I’ve drained this sort of tank.”

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He added that a lot of the music he has been working on recently is “quite simple and based around normal, classic songwriting”.

“This album was very much based around the grooves and the vibes and the sounds and things just feeling really nice,” he said. “Obviously the lyrics came with it, but there’s something where now when I’m working on stuff, it feels very personal and direct and simpler – just about writing nice songs and recording them in a simple way.”

He added that he “might try to produce a lot of it myself now, but we’ll see”.

McKenna’s full upcoming UK headline dates are below, with tickets available here.

27 – Halifax, Victoria Theatre
28 – Bridlington, Spa

9 – Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
11 – Nottingham, Rock City
12 – Edinburgh, Playhouse Theatre 

In a four-star review of McKenna’s latest recordNME wrote: “On ‘What Happened To The Beach?’, perfectionism is released to make space to revel in creativity, resulting in a truly joyful effort.”