Are you looking for new music? Well, we’ve got you covered. As part of Coke Studio and GAY TIMES’ 2023 campaign, we’ve uncovered four brilliant unsigned LGBTQIA+ acts (Celaviedmai, Callum Crighton, Lleo, Keanan) that deserve to be heard. Our partnership is aimed at supporting independent musicians across GB and Ireland. Together, Coke Studio and GAY TIMES recognise that the music industry can be an extremely challenging space, particularly for those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Music is more than a career, it’s an opportunity for upcoming creatives to unapologetically express themselves on and off the stage. With Breakthrough, Coke Studio and GAY TIMES directly support rising musicians, from all backgrounds, to make the music scene more accessible to all. Irish rapper Celaviedmai and Cheltenham musician Keanan were two of the four unsigned acts selected for the exciting artist campaign. This year, Breakthrough acts Lleo, Keanan, Callum Crighton and Celaviedmai lived their best summer lives playing various sets across the likes of Luno presents All Points East, Boardmasters and Longitude, as well as performances at various Pride events across the UK and Ireland – it’s been quite the tour!
Celaviedmai and Keanan reunited to look back on their “incredible summer” as Breakthrough’s star artists and update us on their musical journey. Keep reading to find out more…
What have you been up to lately?
Keanan: As we approach the end of the year, it becomes a time of reflection – and what a year it has been! But I’m looking forward to the future. Currently producing new material and having some important conversations … I’m excited for 2024.
Celaviedmai: This year I’ve been living out my rockstar dreams and connecting with amazing, talented people across Europe. Currently, I’m on the road for my first Irish headline tour and it’s so much fun. We’re bringing the vibes as purr usual to different corners of the country. I’m also putting the final touches of sprinkle sprinkle razzle dazzle to my next project: ISSA NEW ERA! which is coming in January 2024!
What did you enjoy most about being part of Breakthrough with Coke Studio and GAY TIMES throughout 2023?
Keanan: Touring the UK & Ireland – 100%. It was such an amazing experience and I’m truly grateful to have been given the opportunity to perform at such renowned festivals at this stage of my career. Boardmasters Festival was a personal highlight… being by the coast every day, waking up and being able to perform, surrounded by the best team of people – the vibes were immaculate.
Celaviedmai: Thanks to Breakthrough I performed at my first international festival – which was a dream come true and one of my manifestations for 2023. I won’t lie, the whole experience was elevated by participating in such a slay photoshoot with GAY TIMES. It gave me so much confidence and reminded me of who I am. It gave face card never declined.
How was the Coke Studio festival and Pride experience?
Keanan: The Coke Studio Stage was such a unique experience because it allowed me to be immersed in the audience. I could engage with everyone and feel the energy. I really enjoyed connecting with new people at each activation.
Celaviedmai: I didn’t get to do any Pride events because of some date clashes, but we had a lot of fun doing Coke Studio in the UK and Irish music festivals. Longitude in Dublin was my highlight for sure though. It’s something I wouldn’t have expected because the audience is so young. But they were so open-minded, so much fun and had crazy energy!
What have you learnt about yourself and making music since the Breakthrough campaign?
Keanan: I feel as if I am more confident and resilient as a performer, each set I became stronger and stronger and I really gagged a sense of how people react to my music which was really positive.
Celaviedmai: I’ve learned the power of authenticity. Embracing my unique voice and experiences has fueled my creative process and sound.
What’s the biggest challenge artists face in your opinion?
Keanan: Other than creative factors, many artists struggle financially to produce their art which is extremely sad. But campaigns like “Breakthrough” recognise those struggles by supporting artists with paid performances and it is truly invaluable.
Celaviedmai: The biggest challenge artists face extends beyond breaking stereotypes and societal expectations… it also involves navigating the hurdles created by a lack of resources and representation. Being a musician can be particularly challenging when avenues for support and visibility are limited. This is why I am immensely grateful for my participation in Breakthrough. It provided a platform where my voice, creativity, and unique perspective could be seen, felt, and experienced by a new audience.
What’s next for you?
Keanan: Everything – I’m just getting started. Keep those eyes peeled…
Celaviedmai: Right now, I’m getting hyped for my upcoming EP – ISSA NEW ERA! I’ve been waiting a really long time to show the world my new sound. After such a fun headline tour and a summer of previewing these tracks, I’m really excited to get them out properly. Stay tuned because I’m still on my journey to becoming a global icon and superstar. My future is bright and I’m extremely proud to represent Irish music throughout all these experiences.
For anyone wanting to be part of the Breakthrough with Coke Studio and GAY TIMES Campaign in 2024, what advice would you give them?
Keanan: Trust in yourself, your vision and your art and GO FOR IT! It all starts with you and you have the ability to make those dreams come to life so… apply!
Celaviedmai: Remember that authenticity is your superpower, so be the real you always and it’s never too late to start your journey towards greatness!
Now you’ve come through the other side of Breakthrough together, what questions do you have for each other?
Keanan: Mai, how do you overcome nerves before going on stage?
Celaviedmai: I don’t think anyone ever really gets over the nerves. But I do think that the nerves are a good thing because they show you care about your craft. I normally give myself a pep talk, let myself know that I can do this and I’m gonna eat it up every time… and then I do. My question for you is: how do you think new artists stand out in today’s music scene?
Keanan: I definitely think to create buzz as an artist in this social media age, you need to be creating content. Whether that be one-take performances, BTS in the studio, anything! You need to get people’s attention so get creative but make it ‘you’.