A Northern Irish musician has spoken about working with renowned music producers to remix his new single which is being released to coincide with Belfast Pride Week.
Conleth Kane is from Lurgan but has been based in London for the past 19 years. Originally beginning his career as an actor working in theatre, he made the move to songwriting in 2016 and hasn’t looked back.
His latest single, Proud, was written in under 10 minutes back in 2017, just one day before his first London Pride performance.
It was released acoustically in 2017 after a great response from its first performance at London Pride, before being re-recorded as a bigger production in 2019.
But now, however, Conleth is releasing a remixed version of Proud, along with a brand new music video, in time for Belfast Pride.
Teaming up with renowned producers 7th Heaven, who have previously collaborated with Kylie Minogue, Steps, Cher, and Britney Spears among others, was a dream come true for Conleth.
Speaking to Belfast Live before the single’s release, he explained what the song is about, how the collaboration came about, and what it means to have it feature at Pride celebrations around the world.
He said: “I wrote this song as a protest song due to the situation that Northern Ireland found itself in with equal marriage at the time, as the only part of the UK and Ireland that had restricted rights on the LGBTQ+ community.
“At the time, Theresa May had just struck that deal with the DUP, so the conversation was high in the UK because nobody was really aware of what was happening in Northern Ireland in terms of equal marriage being restricted.
Conleth Kane in new video for his single Proud
“I wanted to educate the audience. I wanted to go ‘hey, I’m a gay man from Northern Ireland, I came here, I feel so free, so cherished, so valued as a citizen’ and when I go home, when the plane hits the tarmac, I have a little bit of anxiety because I feel like I’m going backwards in time.”
Proud has taken Conleth around the world as the song resonates with so many people, no matter their religion, nationality, or sexuality. He said it’s a “universal song” as it’s “an anthem of self-acceptance, a celebration for anyone.”
“The main message of the song is if we were all the same, the world would be a very boring place,” the 37-year-old added.
Starting off as an acoustic track, Conleth said many people had told him it should be a dance track that could be danced to in clubs, to act as a real celebration. However, he only had one group in mind to bring the track to the next level.
“People have always said to me that it needs to be a dance track, it needs to be in the clubs, at the Pride parades, that people need to be able to dance to it. So I said the only people I would trust to do it are 7th Heaven, but I didn’t think they would work with me as I’m an independent artist,” he said.
“When you look at their roster of who they’ve worked with, they’ve got Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Cher. I thought my email would just go straight into their junk mail. I reached out to them last April or May on Facebook, and they got back to me in minutes asking to send over the track.
“I think it was a really good time to pursue that route because the music industry was very much taking a break. Huge artists weren’t really releasing material and if anything I think producers were happy to get their teeth stuck into as much as they could.
“They listened to the song and got back to me on the same day saying they’d love to work on it, that it’s right up their street. I was jumping around the room, screaming – I really needed it at the time. All my professional work evaporated. I was due to go on tour with Brian Kennedy, to launch my album, all my professional work just went under water last year so to get news like that during such a dire straits professional and emotional time was great.”
Due to the new remix, he said the single has gone from being an emotional therapy protest ballad, into a dance floor anthem.
This year, Conleth is set to come full circle with Proud, as he and the LGBTQ+ dance group featuring in the new music video are set to take to the stage at London Pride four years after the song was first premiered there.
A lot has changed in that time for the LGBTQ+ community, Conleth notes, with equal marriage becoming law in Northern Ireland in the past year. He said this is a positive step, showing that attitudes are beginning to change.
He added: “We have just achieved equal marriage in Northern Ireland in the past year, that’s shocking. But it shows people from the LGBTQ+ community using their voice and using their platform, we create the voice that’s needed to shout and say we are equal citizens, we are human beings, and we deserve the same rights as our neighbours.
“I like so many other people experienced a really difficult childhood in terms of bullying. I experienced name calling on a daily basis, I got beaten up after school. All of these things happened because governments and society viewed the LGBTQ+ community as being wrong. Kids in future generations won’t really have to go through what we went through because it’ll just be normal.”
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