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17 May 2021, 08:00
Keith Urban has opened up about the difficulties he faced as an artist and performer at the height of lockdown in 2020.
He's one of the most popular and successful country singers of his generation, and despite a challenging year, he still managed to bring out a fantastic album in the form of The Speed of Now Part 1.
Keith Urban spoke exclusively to Smooth Country's Eamonn Kelly about how he dealt with the global pandemic last year, and how his collaboration with Nile Rodgers and Breland on the standout track 'Out the Cage' came about.
Watch the full interview above.
Speaking about how he found the past year, Keith said: "I didn’t do so great at the beginning of it when all the lockdown started happening. We were in Nashville around March last year – March or April. I was working on this album, and had gotten most of it finished, but I certainly wasn’t finished.
"Suddenly, it was like, 'I can’t go anywhere. I can’t do anything. I can’t go to studios. I can’t have anybody come to the house.'
"I got a bit creatively paralysed, honestly, because I didn’t know what to do, or how to do it. I just thought I’d put on my comfy pants, sit on the couch, and eat chips until it all blows over. That was my plan! I was like, 'I don’t know what this is, but I don’t know what to do with it.'
"And I just froze. I really did. It felt like a month or something. And my team was like, 'Are you going to finish your record?' I was like, 'No. I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. I’m going to sit right here.”
"I finally got it together, and got into the studio, and worked a little bit, and figured out how to keep flowing, and keep moving forward. But it really took a lot of want and desire to be innovative, and find a new way."
He continued: "Musically speaking, the heartbreak was not getting to take this album out live on the road, because it’s what done ever since I started making records. It’s to work on a recording, get it out there, and particularly to have it connect the way that this album is connected, in countries I’ve never even been to before – you know, Russia, China, Latin America.
"It’s crazy, the places that this album has connected, and I just want to get out and tour. The UK has been on our list for a long time. We were all set to play last October, and had to cancel that. So I’m just ready to play. I’m really ready to come out and bring these songs to life with a real audience."
Referring to his recent duets with the likes of Nile Rodgers, Pink and Taylor Swift, Keith said: "I love collaborating. I’ve always loved it. It’s because I’m a guitar player, so I guess… you know, you start by being in a band, and collaborating immediately with your other musicians.
"So I’ve always loved collaborating. I’ve always loved the discovery of unexpected collaborations, whether it’s with Pink or Nile Rogers or Breland or Eric Church or whoever it is. Pitbull is on one of my tracks, from two albums ago."
On his dream collaboration, he added: "I really wanted to do something with Daft Punk, and I was heartbroken that they’ve disbanded.
"That was somebody who was probably top of my list of artists who I really, really, really admire – the work that they have done in the studio. Because it’s the highest level of that kind of craftsmanship. They’re just unbelievably great at it."
Keith Urban's album The Speed of Now Part 1 is out now.