Music, Mythologies, and Billy Keane: A Story Of Writing Songs Beyond Boundaries

Billy Keane

via Billy Keane, with permission

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but music industry sure loves stuffing musicians in boxes. Alas, once an artist gets stuffed in a box, they all-too-often find themselves stuck, hellbent on climbing themselves out of whatever label they’ve been pigeonholed with.

But then there’s Billy Keane—defiant, eclectic, and hilariously resistant to the typical “stick-a-label-on-it” approach.

Born in Australia, raised in Connecticut, and now based in Western Massachusetts’ Berkshire mountains, Billy began singing in church. He isn’t going to box himself into making one genre these days. In fact, trying to box him into a genre is like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

Good luck with that.

Defying Labels: Billy Keane’s Musical Journey

“I’m consistently trying to tear down mythologies that are in my life,” says Keane. “Lot of times we just create these weird mythologies, like ‘I am a folk musician.’ Well, that immediately becomes a mythology as soon as you start creating something other than like a folk music genre.”

“I think some of my favorite poets, for instance, would write to meter and form,” he continues. “They’re doing this because sometimes parameters can guide the art into a more focused path. So, if you say to yourself, I will write an Americana album, then whatever your influences are, you create it.”

Keane calls this kind of labeling “a Catch-22” for artists, but says he’d be happy to known as an artist who “tears down mythologies.”

“Being off balance is a good thing in life, in my opinion,” says Keane. “When you’re not sure about stuff, it helps me center in and focus on what I’m doing and be absolutely authentically present.”

When asked about the popularity of the Americana category of music right now, Billy responds, “I wouldn’t put myself in that genre.” For him, while genres can provide parameters to guide art, they shouldn’t confine an artist’s evolution.

“I think this record in no way fits into that [Americana] really.”

Transcending Boundaries: Artistry Rooted in Life

Billy Keane just released “Speak Your Name,” a track on his sophomore album, Oh, These Days, out September 8, 2023. “Speak Your Name” is a little bit Lyle Lovett meets Sufjan Stevens, with a generous splash of Jackson Browne-style vocals. It’s seasoned with Fender Rhodes and woodwinds, punctuated by a soaring gospel harmony. It follows on the heels of “The Pilgrim Age“, a hopeful meditation on peace, comfort, and walking ones own path, with a call out to “fellow seekers.” Another track off the album, “Fresh Flowers,” has the subtle DNA of a southern fried J.J. Cale train song.

“Sonically, this record feels as close to the spirit of my music as I’ve been able to make,” says Keane with a touch of pride about his new album. The heart of the album, he believes, is the result of collective brilliance – his band’s passion, his producer James Wallace’s dedication, and Billy’s natural voice.

“I’m really proud of that,” he says. On the thematic content of the album, Keane explains, “some of these songs are dealing with pretty big issues, universal questions, things that I find myself meditating on.”

Billy Keane

via Billy Keane, with permission

It’s these meditative thoughts that bridge the gap between social themes and his musical expression.

“Music is the thing that I do best, and it’s how I communicate with the world,” says Keane.

Questioning Dogma: The Inspiration behind Billy Keane’s “Halo”

Also on Oh, These Days, Billy’s song, “Halo” pushes the listener to ponder questions on life, death, religion, and existence.

“Sometimes, religion’s a bummer,” Keane explains.

His lyrics, “Ain’t No Halo hanging over my head,” are more than just a nod to his past mistakes. “The halo represents this false notion of religious dogmatic success,” he explains.

Keane expresses his apprehension about how religion sometimes separates people from their inherent spirituality. In the contemporary age, he remarks, “religions that are 2000 years old have potentially diverged from where they intended to be initially.”

“Religion has separated people from their inherent spirituality,” Keane adds. “And that is something that I just, I don’t… I can’t abide. Belief, I think, is such a misleading concept. No person is ironclad, change is the only thing I recognize in my experience as being ironclad.”

Throughout the years, Keane has amassed a small but passionate fanbase, drawn in large part to his electrifying live performances. His impressive musical lineage has opened doors for him to perform alongside industry giants such as James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Molly Tuttle, The Gin Blossoms, and Blues Traveler, among others. This past summer, he graced the iconic stage at Levon Helm Studios, also known as ‘The Barn’ in Woodstock, NY, where he opened for Town Mountain.

“You ever experienced something big for yourself and you don’t know how you feel about it? That’s kind of where I was,” says Keane about playing the legendary Catskills stage, adding it was “dreamy.”

“Garth’s piano is right there and Levon’s drum kit is literally on the stage,” he continues. “He left it there for people to use. I was entirely blown away by it.”

Billy Keane

via Billy Keane, with permission

What inspires an artist to make good art?

The art of living itself.

The unceasing tides of life’s ebbs and flows. Evolution.

Keane’s journey has been anything but linear – from a college dropout to an adventurous world traveler, a commercial deep sea diver, and now, a globe-trotting musician living out the dream.

“Being a person comes first,” says Billy. “Just being alive comes first, and that living experience is what informs the art.”

“Who I am as a person changes. Literally, my skin changes, everything changes. The cellular structure of our bodies are different every seven years. How crazy is that? What really are you?” Keane ponders.

“If the art doesn’t change? Why I do it is to express as clearly as I can a certain intention. And so as those intentions change, therefore the mechanism by which I express them has to change.”

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: