Keith Cullen
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Keith Cullen

Kildare, Leinster, Ireland | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Kildare, Leinster, Ireland | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Pop Acoustic




"EP Launch"

Last Friday night saw your fave reporter all snuggled up in the Odessa Club for the launch of Keith Cullen’s new EP, “With Eyes Open”. The intimate venue was packed, but me and my fizzy water found a nice spot stage-side. Odessa Club is all leather sofas, glossy walls and sexy lighting – the perfect setting for Keith Cullen. An Irish singer / songwriter, Cullen is known for his heartfelt live performance.

The crowd was immediately animated when Cullen came on stage. Good looking and groomed, he was slick in a black leather panelled jacket and matching top teamed with black skinny jeans. Understated cool. Opening with “Flashing Lights”, Cullen was on his game, backed up by two female singers and a great band. His voice conveyed great feeling and it was shaping up to a be a top gig. A talented guy!

Next up was “Superhero”, a sweeping ballad, atmospheric and damn catchy. I wasn’t familiar with Cullen’s work before, a friend invited me along, but I was really loving his stuff. Big radio-friendly sounds and strong lyrics, Cullen’s style is bold. He was arms out wide for “When I Hear Your Name”. A natural performer, he was in his element as the audience bopped along. Such passion in his deep brown eyes.

An acoustic version of Rihanna’s “Stay” had us all swaying, and Cullen joking “this is the only track you’ll know!”. The song beautifully showcased his vocal range and glam stage presence. Cullen has a clean cut image, with a boy band edge, and I could see him owning Eurovision. He’s got what it takes! Katie Carpenter, one half of Jezzebelle, dueted on “Safe From The World”, one of her own numbers.

A striking combo, Carpenter and Cullen delivered a breathless version, hitting the high notes together to a gentle strumming beat. “Losing My Way” and “The Walls” showed Cullen at his best, voice soaring to marching drums and perfectly choreographed as he moved in rhythm to the music. He really came alive, big songs and a big heart. Announcing his new EP “With Eyes Open”, Cullen closed with the song.

A rollicking tune, catchy with lots of ohh-woahs, Cullen had everyone clapping along to “With Eyes Open”. I can hear this one on the radio, or on the dancefloor, a wave of strong vocals over a powerhouse melody. It was obvious that Cullen’s fans are a loyal bunch as there was such excitement as he bowed out with “let’s have a party!”. He brought a real feel good factor to the room. Now that’s entertainment! / Keith Cullen “With Eyes Open”

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"With Eyes Open Single Review"

Written by: Isaac Mace-Tessler on February 14, 2014.
Male pop artists are a dime a dozen these days. It takes something special to stand out amongst all the belted warbling and melodramatic antics. Emerging Irish singer/songwriter Keith Cullen, with his pure vocals grounded in palpable honesty and sincerity, is such a beacon. Dublin-based Keith has been honing his musical talents from an early age. As a young lad he travelled Ireland with musical theatre companies and at 18 was accepted into the prestigious London School of Performing Arts. However, he struggled with his confidence and instead embarked upon a successful career in business and sales.

But he couldn’t suppress his creative abilities for long and in 2010 Keith decided to return full-time to music. Collaborating with fellow singer/songwriter and producer JJ Daly, he spent eight months in the studio crafting his debut album. Influenced by genres as diverse as swing, rock and pop, Keith has developed a musical style all his own. Debut single “Losing My Way” (2011) and follow-up “When I Hear Your Name” (2012), are mid-tempo piano-led loss-&-heartbreak ballads backed by strings and percussion, foregrounding his crystal-clear tenor. He also has uploaded onto YouTube an accomplished collection of covers including songs by Pink, Bruno Mars, Adele and U2.

Third single “With Eyes Open” initially features a faster EDM beat with back-up vocal hook propelling forward the up-tempo song about seeing through loved-ones’ brave exteriors and wanting to help them through their pain. “I can see behind the smiles that there is no peace / Tears would be a welcome release / If there’s something that you’re hiding you got to let me know”. Keith’s passionate yet earnest voice carries the catchy melody, soaring without overly-emotive breathy gimmicks, and his equally strong falsetto is featured well on the high notes – reminiscent of both Shayne Ward and the legendary Midge Ure.

The accompanying ultra-slick video co-directed by frequent collaborators Thomas Hefferon and Johnny Han (an acclaimed Hollywood VFX Supervisor) boasts an array of artistic visual effects which fracture, distort and multiply the images, thematically in keeping with the song. (Be sure to also check out the directors’ video for “When I Hear Your Name”, featuring a couple dancing in seemingly perilous locations on roof/bus/cliff tops.)

With his long-awaited full-length album finally due out later this year, as well as UK and Irish tour dates to be announced, 2014 is surely set to be the year when Keith will “guide us home”! - Pop Scoop

"EP Review"

Intimate and plush. Low lights and high expectations. This EP launch by Keith Cullen is an unusually luxurious affair. Relaxed, slim and charming in black Keith’s introduction is warming and appreciative. He starts with “Flashing Lights” amid the ambient surroundings. Following with “ Superhero “ creeping vocals over lingering keyboards he kicks straight into “ When I Hear Your Name “. The single from his EP is a simple arrangement of vocals, piano and strings. A tale of lost love it gathers pace perfectly telling the story as momentum rises and falls finishing on resignation and gently closing chords. Pensive and dramatic Keith works the audience into the next track which is surprisingly “ Stay” by Rhianna. No track, its acoustic. To be fair, Rhianna is not my bag at all., but Keith carries it off with style. Think I actually prefer his version.

Katie Carpenter from the band “Jezzebelle“ joins Keith for their next song “Safe From The World“. A heartfelt ballad delivered by the duo with emotion and integrity. “The Walls” follows. Starts off with hints of a lullaby, engaging the audience into his generous performance of “With Eyes Wide Open”.

Keith sounds bigger than he looks. Clearly emotive in performance, he wears his soul on his sleeve throughout this set. His admirers and appreciators give rapturous applause and Keith humbly acknowledges their return. His vulnerability gives his music a freshness that’s rare in this often over populated singer songwriter space.

Post gig analysis Keith admits to battling a stubborn chest infection all week. Looks like the chest infection lost. Currently based in Dublin, Keith is managed by his sister Jennifer. Hovering between LA and London he has signed a publishing deal and is considering his next move. At this point I step aside for another well wisher holding an EP up for autograph.

The current single “When I Hear Your Name“ is on Spotify. Try BreakingTunes for background info or Facebook.

Set List : Flashing Lights, Superhero, When I Hear Your Name, Stay, Safe From The World, Perfect The Way We Are, The Walls, With Eyes Wide Open.

Review by Ciara Sheahan -

"Keith Cullen signs to NHM"

“Keith has one of the best voices around, and a great sense of melody. He hits the kind of exciting high notes that have made fun so successful recently. It’s surely just a matter of time before his talent gets recognised by the media.” - Dominic King - Multi Million Selling Songwriter - Allied Music

"Keith Cullen signs to NHM"

“Keith has one of the best voices around, and a great sense of melody. He hits the kind of exciting high notes that have made fun so successful recently. It’s surely just a matter of time before his talent gets recognised by the media.” - Dominic King - Multi Million Selling Songwriter - Allied Music

"Keith Cullen"

“Keith Cullen has an unerring instinct for quality pop. He sings songs as if he’s lived in them, always injecting just the right level of passion and never overdoing it. It’s a skill others in the pop field could learn from.” Jackie Hayden Hotpress Magazine - HOTPRESS

"Keith Cullen"

“Keith Cullen has an unerring instinct for quality pop. He sings songs as if he’s lived in them, always injecting just the right level of passion and never overdoing it. It’s a skill others in the pop field could learn from.” Jackie Hayden Hotpress Magazine - HOTPRESS

"(Courtesy of team of Keith Cullen) TRACK OF THE WEEK: KEITH CULLEN’S “PIECE OF ME”"

With his unique and wide range of vocals, singer-songwriter Keith Cullen was well on his way as one of the fresh new faces in the music industry. Then he was diagnosed with stage three cancer.

With tremendous willpower and an overwhelming amount of support from his friends, Cullen was able to beat the odds, and is currently in full remission. This experience allowed and motivated him to tell the world his story through music.

His new single “Piece of Me” marks a clear departure from the agony of Cullen’s past. The pop record sees Cullen in a place of determination regardless of the chaos we call life. No matter how hopeless or how far gone you feel, there is a light at the end of the tunnel — trust him.

He croons on the chorus: “Every time we meet you take a piece of me yeah, you say it’s nothing but it hurts to breath / If it’s so easy what’s this pain I’m feeling? You don’t know what you’re doing to me.”

For anyone who hears the record, it’s an anthem for a life best lived. Cullen states, “After what I went through, surviving cancer and fighting with so many doctors, I’m more determined than ever to live life audaciously and mindfully. I hope everyone who hears ‘Piece of Me’ feels that strength for themselves.” - LA Weekly

"Streaming The Next Ed Sheeran? Steereo Plays Unsigned Acts Into Ubers & Lyfts"

We’ve all had those awkward Uber rides: when polite chat with your driver runs dry, and you’re grateful for the pop hits blasting out from the radio.

But what if the cab ride home—or to the airport or your office—was a place of musical discovery: a mini gig venue where you could hear the hottest unsigned artists from around the world?

This is the concept behind Steereo, a streaming service that soft-launched in New York and Austin in March.

It’s already live in 8,000 Uber, Lyft and Juno cabs, and has played songs from 1,000 rising artists in over 250,000 rides. These tracks are organized into Steereo playlists by genre, showcasing everyone from Brooklyn's pop-soul songstress Enisa to Nashville’s modern countryman Charlie Rogers and San Francisco Capella pro Mario Jose (who’s already opened gigs for Grammy Award winners Pentatonix).

“We want people to be able to consume great music and not be force-fed the A-list major artists who are on heavy rotation on radio right now,” Jennifer Cullen, one of Steereo’s cofounders, tells Forbes.

Steereo could even be where the next Drake or Taylor Swift is discovered, says it’s director of operations. “We let the bands dictate who the new Ed Sheeran will be, rather than whoever the big music labels are putting their money behind.”

Inspiring Steereo

Given that 15 million people use rideshare apps daily, and that the digital audio advertising was $31 billion last year, Steereo certainly has an intriguing business model.

But can it really win big in cabs? A space where Spotify and Deezer have already been—a space where consumers might be perfectly happy listening to whatever’s on the airwaves or plugging in music from their smartphone?

Cullen who is based in Dublin, Ireland, is one of Steereo’s four cofounders who believe that answer is yes: She says that Steereo doesn’t just solve a real problem for unsigned artists, it incentivizes drivers to get their passengers involved.

It was Cullen’s brother, the singer-songwriter Keith Cullen (now signed to former CEO of Virgin Records, Warner Bros and EMI, Phil Quartararo), who first inspired the streaming-on-wheels concept. As Keith’s manager, Cullen had seen firsthand how difficult—and expensive—it was for him to break into the industry.

“The real struggle for the unsigned artists out there is that there’s so much talent, but also so much noise,” she explains, pointing to the traditional publicist model where it costs anywhere from $500,000-$2 million to launch an unsigned artist in a major market.

Steereo significantly undercuts this cost, charging unsigned artists a monthly fee of $12.99 which allows them to upload music to the platform’s app, see their analytics and buy “boosts” (these come with personalizable budgets, a bit like Facebook or Youtube ads).

Drivers, on the other hand, are financially encouraged to bring Steereo into their cabs and get riders on board (they are paid per second, and make on average $120-$300 a month, Cullen claims).

Beyond this, brands can also partner with artists through audio messaging, branded playlists, event sponsorship and music licensing, a model that has seen the platform generate revenue since launch, Cullen says.

The idea is that in future Steereo could start to use the data it collects in smart ways.

“The goal for us is to be able to start to see trends, so we can push artist towards labels and say, ‘Look this is what people are really consuming, these are the songs that are really hot right now,’” Cullen says.

Musicians could even see where their fans are located and arrange local gigs, she adds.

Breaking into a tough scene

Cullen says she has already faced “resistance” from some because of the sheer novelty of Steereo, and believes the startups journey has been made harder by the sexist stigma that remains in both the tech and the music industry today (in the U.S. hold just 25% of computing jobs, the number of women in tech falls to 17% in the U.K., and there is a broad underrepresentation of women across the music industry).

“We are predominantly led by females, and in the tech industry and in the music industry, that’s perceived as a negative. People don’t take you as seriously,” she explains.

However, where possible, Cullen has tried to turn any prejudice to her advantage. “You’re never seen as a threat,” she laughs.

Having a team straddled across Belfast in Northern Ireland and in New York and L.A. in the U.S. has also brought its own unique challenges. “The time differences are insane,” says Cullen, describing the team’s three weekly meetings, and their efforts to be in the same country whenever possible.

But Cullen says she loves the different cultural elements this transcontinental approach brings: “the typical Irish ‘If in doubt, drink tea,’ the aggressive ‘Get it done’ mentality of New York and the energetic ‘Anything is possible’ feeling of L.A.”

“Combined we all bring something great to the table,” she says.

The future for Steereo

Today Steereo is part of Sparkplug, the accelerator run by global marketing communications company Y&R. Soon it will leave to join Quake Capital’s accelerator in L.A., Cullen explains.

The next step for the startup will be the development of a customer-facing Steereo app so that you don’t have to rely on your Uber driver to control what you’re hearing.

Steereo’s cofounders are also focused on forging new partnerships to allow music fans to use Shazam to get more information on songs, such as links to an artist’s Facebook and SoundCloud accounts or their iTunes store. And the team is currently closing a $1.5 million fundraise to help it scale, with plans to grow in New York before taking on L.A., London and China (where Cullen has already met with major players like Tencent).

Ultimately, Cullen says she wants people to think of Steereo in the same way they think of other music-tech leaders like Spotify or Pandora or Deezer.

“There’s no denying the future of music is technology-based, but it’s now about finding a balance between art and tech,” she says.

Your awkward Uber journey could be numbered. Who knows, you might even discover the next Ed Sheeran.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip. - Forbes

"Keith Cullen Talks Surviving Cancer, Life as a CEO, & His New Video for 'Fire and Fever'"

Keith Cullen has endured a difficult path, one filled with setbacks, disease, and heartbreak, but he’s finally ready to become the queer pop sensation he’s always known himself to be.

The Dublin-born Cullen, 36, started out in a less-than-musical fashion; at just 18, Cullen founded an Ireland-based marketing firm, and for nearly a decade, he built the company up from nothing and became a verified success story. “But,” Cullen tells Billboard, “I wasn’t being true to who I was. I knew from a very young age that music was what I wanted to do, but I just happened to be good at business. I was very successful and it gave me a lifestyle that I thought was going to make me really happy. And... it didn't.”

Finding himself at a loss for proper inspiration or a creative outlet as a CEO, Cullen left the company he founded as a teen to become a singer full time in America. He moved to the States and ended up in Los Angeles, where he found a new lease on life. He proceeded to come out of the closet entirely, and began his music career in earnest, with subsequent singles, “Say Something” and “Turn On The Light,” climbing to No. 27 and No. 31, respectively, on Billboard's Dance Club Songs charts. He was officially on his way.

Then, while on a promotional tour in Australia, Cullen was diagnosed with stage 3 bladder cancer. “I got on the plane and when we landed in Sydney, I was peeing blood,” Cullen recalls. “It was incredibly scary.” He was flown back to Ireland for additional testing and received multiple emergency surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy. After more than a year of battling the disease and undergoing extensive treatments, Cullen went into remission. But the experience changed him irrevocably, blessing him with a renewed sense of purpose: to bring music to the people, now more than ever.

Today, Cullen is back with the music video for a remix of his latest single, “Fire and Fever" (premiering below). A contemplative track about introspection, personal history and continued bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, “Fire and Fever” explores the complicated relationships between lovers, friends, personal health and wellness. In the clip, directed by Santiago Valencia, Cullen points his energy directly at the viewer as he stares intensely at the camera, while psychedelic red lights swirl around him, changing the features of his face. The video’s fiery visual palette perfectly matches the heated lyrics, and makes for a perfect dark-pop viewing experience.

Cullen spoke with Billboard about “Fire and Fever,” how his time as a CEO informed his artistic voyage, and life post-cancer.

How did "Fire and Fever" come about?

It's essentially a love story that’s masked musically. It doesn't sound like a sappy love story or a ballad. I've been known to write ballads all day, every day, that's my go to. So, this song definitely feels different. It was a song I needed to write because it came from an experience of feeling overwhelmed with all of the feelings that come with a relationship. We're never in control of these encounters as we go along in life. Our relationships, or friendships, or work, or health. So it was liberating to be really honest lyrically with where I was in the song.

Tell us about the music video — this is your first time as a creative director on your own video?

Yes, this is my first time being a creative director, and for me that is really about taking back control. In my past, when I was the CEO of my company, I would look outside of myself for creative direction, artwork, things like that. But I need to do it myself, and I wanted something more edgy, almost psychedelic with all the lights. I wanted to create an intimate moment on camera, where each viewer can connect to that vulnerability in times of struggle. The beauty for me is the empowerment, the truth in it. There's nowhere to hide. I didn't use actors, there’s no storyline. It’s just me telling my actual story, without most of the bells and whistles.

Let’s talk a little bit about your former life as a CEO. How do you think it has affected what you're doing now?

So I was 18 when I started my sales and marketing company. It was very successful. But I wasn’t being true to who I was. I knew from a very young age that music was what I wanted to do, but I just happened to be good at business. I was very successful and it gave me a lifestyle that I thought was going to make me really happy. And, it didn't. What I think it does for other people, where business is their passion, it just didn’t do for me.

The truth is, music is my passion. Self-expression is my passion. And I think being brave and taking that leap and saying, "I don't want to do this anymore," comes from being a CEO. I had to get real with myself in every aspect of my life. People told me I was crazy, too, giving it up. But it felt right in the moment, as scary as it was... Because I didn't really know who I was without a suit, without a desk, without a team of people around me. And the music industry is a tough business, so I’m glad I had that experience.

Do you think more people should treat their creative careers like they’re CEOs?

I think mixing art and business is really difficult, and that's why as an independent artist, or even a signed artist, you have to learn how to become the CEO of your own career. Because if someone else is making all the decisions for you, you may end up in a very unhappy place. You may get the accolades, or have the successes, or get the streams… but how many artists do we know that arrived to that place of success exhausted, broken, unhappy, addicted.

So it's about taking it one step at a time and being happy with the choices that you make, whether they prove successful or not. My mantra: face reality with self-kindness and no judgment. It’s my magic sauce.

You’re certainly in a much happier place today. Part of that must be that you’re now an out and proud queer man.

Absolutely. I came out about four years ago. You know, in music, people often say that winning a Grammy is their goal. Well, I think I should win an Oscar for the role I played in Ireland, pretending to be straight for years and years.

But moving to the U.S. gave me the freedom to explore and be myself, and experience real queer culture. Growing up in Ireland, I didn’t see gay couples or anyone outside of what's considered normal there. So I felt very at home in Los Angeles and really got to express myself, experience way more of who I am. So for me, there was less a coming out of the closet, and more of waking up to the reality of who I am at the core of my being. It was empowering.

You must have called on that same strength to fight your cancer. But now you’re in remission!

Yes! They say that disease is connected to emotions and your subconscious. That it’s not just a physical thing but a mental thing. And I think suppressing who I was for such a long time had to have had an effect on my body. Nobody could make sense of my disease. The average age for bladder cancer is 68 in America. I was in my early 30s.

How do you feel about it now, post-cancer?

I look at it now as a blessing, because I came out of that and faced my mortality. I really didn't know whether I'd make it. It was harrowing. There were moments I was like, I just don't know if I can do this. The chemo was so horrible. But coming out the other end and walking back into the world, you find new gratitude. You’re changed forever. Remission felt like a rebirth. You know, in L.A., the “spiritual gangsters” here all talk about gratitude, and health, and acceptance, and love. And I think they're all just great words until something moves you like this. Like after chemo when my legs didn't work or I was too weak to sing. Having those things back… you find a new gratitude for everything.

When I was at my sickest, I read a quote by Marianne Williamson where she wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” That sticks with me. Being brave is more important today than ever, and I’m happy I’m still here to be that. - Billboard


Still working on that hot first release.



Dublin born singer-songwriter, Keith Cullen, has been honing his musical talents since a very young age. Throughout his youth Keith travelled Ireland with musical theatre company and at 18 was accepted into the London School of Performing Arts, however, he put his musical ambitions on hold and spent several years exercising his entrepreneurial skills while he ran his own successful businesses.


In 2010 Keith decided to return to his musical roots and teamed up with singer-songwriter and producer JJ Daly with whom he spent eight months in the studio creating his debut album.

Keith says of his album, there is not a typical box that this album can be put into. It's music that I really believe in and came from no tricks or gimmicks, just great music, and big vocals. I am proud of the finished piece and I'm excited for people to hear it and even more excited to perform it live.


Keith has been fortunate enough to perform to a sold-out Olympia Theatre in Dublin where he supported other artists. Keith has performed at festivals and events all over Ireland and is now focusing on the UK and is delighted to announce that he has recently signed with Notting Hill Music.

Band Members