Keanu (Supplied)
Keanu (Supplied)

Love Letter to a Record: Keanu on Prince’s ‘Breakfast Can Wait’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Sydney arist Keanu raises a glass to Prince’s 2013 single ‘Breakfast Can Wait’, the primary influence on his latest single ‘O.T.N’.

Sydney singer-songwriter Keanu released the single ‘O.T.N’ in early February via Soul Modern Records. Keanu, who’s of of Italian and Niuean heritage, has been playing music since picking up a trumpet at eight years old. Now in his early 20s, Keanu takes inspiration from contemporary pop, soul and R&B artists such as Sampha, The Weeknd and John Mayer.

Keanu’s Love Letter to Prince’s ‘Breakfast Can Wait’

Keanu: I actually got around to this track pretty late, but the effect it had on me creatively was enormous. The first time I was introduced to Prince would’ve been probably 2006. My dad bought my mum The Very Best of Prince album as a gift for their anniversary. For the next couple weeks, it was all I heard – and I just loved it. From there, my dad started getting out other Prince albums to show me and I was very taken by all of them.

As a kid, I loved what I was hearing music-wise. The melodies were beautiful and very catchy and the energy through the songs was addictive. But as I got into my late teens, I started to listen to more than just the melody. I started following the basslines, noticing certain chord patterns throughout the music and noticing similarities in more modern things I was listening to at the time.

For example, I love The Weeknd and have been listening to him since the start of his career. When I was listening to Kiss Land, all my ears took in was the drums and the similarities to the Prince songs I listened to when I was eight years old.

As I continued to get older, I started to create more music myself, which led to emulating and taking in more inspiration from songs, especially ‘Breakfast Can Wait.’ When I first heard this song, I was hooked immediately. I’m a sucker for simple-yet-hard-to-figure-out arrangements in music. There’s an art to making something sound easy and simple when it’s really quite intricate, and that’s the vibe I always got from this track.

From the beginning of the song, musically and melodically, it always dragged me in. There’s the little key lick that leads into the first chorus and continues throughout the song; the marimba line in the chorus; the rising synth in the verses; and the versatility of his voice – that classic Prince sound in the chorus and then his lower range and speaking voice in the verses. It’s genuinely amazing.

But my favourite part of this song is the cover art. If you don’t know or haven’t seen it, Dave Chappelle made a skit on his show where he dressed and acted as Prince. Prince then used that photo as the single cover for ‘Breakfast Can Wait’.

It’s an example of the “not giving a fuck” element that’s apparent in a lot of Prince songs. Now listening to and looking at this song in my 20s, it’s beautiful to hear, see and feel. That was definitely the most important thing I took from this song and I think it’s a nice reminder for artists that there’s no right or wrong way to make music.

Keanu – ‘O.T.N’

Further Reading

Album Review: Prince – ‘Welcome 2 America’

Rolling Stone Have Updated Their Best 500 Albums List, With Marvin Gaye Taking The Top Spot

Watch Rihanna Perform a Career-Spanning Medley of Hits During Super Bowl Halftime Show

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