Heaven, Hell, and Capitol Records: A Transformation of Perspective

Hello everyone,

It’s been a year of tests, tribulations, lessons and growth for so many of us.

The details of our journeys are always going to be different, but there are so many threads that we share as spirits having our human experience. I just wanted to share this particular story in the hope that we can find another moment of commonality, and really touch on what makes us relate to one another.

A few weeks ago, I stood and watched the ocean and let my thoughts pour out; a favored routine of mine. It centers me, it gives me moments of pause, and a lot of times looking out on that vastness helps me remember who I am (and we are) in the scale of our moments here. What was different about this time in particular, was that after these moments of reflection, I turned around and the usual lush and abundant backdrop of Malibu was a wall of fire. Complete chaos. It was such a stark contrast; the beauty and stillness of the ocean to my left, and the horrific scene of natural destruction to my right. I immediately went into action-mode and reached out to as many neighbors and people in the area as I could to offer any assistance, and to be there in any capacity. It was of course, mostly for them, and a little for me as well. A moment of community in a trying time that is out of one’s control. It’s always a bittersweet scenario when people who don’t necessarily connect regularly come together during something of that nature. It shows the inherent kindness of the human spirit, and also highlights how

by being “SO-BUSY”, how many opportunities to connect that we miss in this day and age.

Being evacuated is pretty scary but was made easy by the fact I was about to embark on a lifetime dream of mine. Steereo (my new venture) had put together a version of a master-class and writing camp at Capitol records for a group of truly special, and truly talented people. The motivation behind it was to interconnect people that may not have an opportunity to meet otherwise, share their experiences as an artist, and hopefully learn and grow from each other. This was a huge moment for Steereo as well. Something that has been nurtured and been the receptor of so much time, energy, and out-of-pocket support was now in a position of hosting an artistic forum at one of the highest esteemed record labels in the world. A dear friend of my family and collaborator, Bob Cutarella, was gracious enough to lead the discussion with the artists I’d chosen to be a part of it, and shed some light and share stories of his 40+ years in this ever-changing and complex industry. My gratitude and excitement was enormous as the Saturday that this was to take place approached, but that bittersweet feeling I had mentioned before was also present, and for a set of different reasons.

As I lay safe in my bed that same night of evacuation, I didn’t know if it was guilt I was feeling, guilt for wanting to enjoy something and be there for the many artists involved, or even just guilt that there wasn’t more I could do for those in need at this time. Regardless of those initial thoughts that permeated the weekend, it was also time to step up and be present in something that was and would be so important to a group of people. Saturday came, and the artists arrived, and we began the day sitting in a circle getting to know one another and set a platform for dialogue and education. This was the part I knew would be successful, but what was not anticipated was just HOW impactful and beautiful the next couple of days would turn out to be. It’s always a shot in the dark assembling that many different people together in the name of collaboration, there are energy levels, and personalities, and points of view that could go either way. Beautiful synergy, or possible disaster. The one thing that was apparent from moment one at Capitol, was the talent. So much different, complex and gorgeous talented people vibrating off of one another in that room. Some artists I’ve known for a moment but got to see them in their active element as songwriters, and some artists I was spending time with for the first time. Both are things I wouldn’t give back for all the money in the world.

The first day they split everyone off into groups of four or five, and it was so awe-inspiring to see people from different musical universes sitting together and bouncing ideas off of one another. An exchange of energy, and a creative intimacy that few people get to experience in this life. I got to meet an artist named China Fox, someone who had such a fluid ability as a pianist and singer. Something inside me as a songwriter drew me to her because there was a directness to her approach that was impressive and also refreshing. Nothing about her abilities seemed strictly performative, it was someone wielding a talent that came from within and she was a pathway. It was like meeting a kindred spirit, a feeling that was not unlike the feeling when meeting so many of the people that weekend. I had the pleasure of witnessing new friends Jameson Tabor and Glass Battles apply their perspectives and abilities in such different with their respective partners; one is somewhere between Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder, the other is the self proclaimed ‘purveyor of spook pop’. Seeing the differences in style was exciting, but seeing the similarities after all of the ego and presentation is stripped away was stunning. Capitol gave the artists free reign of the multitude of instruments and studio equipment to assemble whatever they were inspired to assemble. I thought that it would be more of an experiment of getting people out of their comfort zones together that day, allowing people to become acquainted with one another and find their footing. I did not anticipate it to be a fully moving machine of artistry with all the groups involved. At the end of a long Saturday we all got together and played the songs we had written and recorded.

It was as if these people had known each other for years; comfortably sharing, pitching ideas, agreeing and disagreeing. There was so much respect in those studios, not a single person was trying to compete with one another, it was as if everyone was so confident in their own lane that they could share the road together. To be honest, it was an overwhelming feeling to witness and experience. It’s one of the reasons I’m so drawn to music, and miles away from the social media-driven ‘likes/followers/repost’ world, and back to the basics of what it means to express yourself as an artist.

The second day they had split us off into a set of different groups with a series of challenges specific to each group geared at the song we would write together. I joined a group with Derek Long from Saticoy (a beyond talented pop producer and vocalist), Will Maker (a powerhouse vocalist and songwriter), Glass Battles and Kazumi, a practical savant that seemed to come out of nowhere. Kazumi is the type of person that is perfectly pleasant, definitely a listener, and then the moment came for him to contribute and it was like a genius switch had been turned on. Multi instrumentalist, he rolled through the piano and tracked guitar, mixed, engineered, produced, all while maintaining a cool and collected approach that let you know this was not his first time at the rodeo. The second day came to a close, and once again, this group of mere strangers to one another were presenting another four original tracks nearly completed in ONE day. Two days at Capitol, and as a group we had written, produced and recorded EIGHT songs. The funny part is, though we were all versions of tired from the long days, not a single person seemed to be burnt out. It felt as if we could’ve stayed another week and written albums together. Watching everyone in the main recording studio listen to each other’s work made me tear up a bit, everyone was so accepting, and so proud of themselves and of each other. It was just… such an unexpected bonding experience. It was meant to be informative and fun, but there was no way to guess that we would build a little family in two days.

through our inherent differences and shared similarities we have the power to uplift and strengthen one another.

Waking up on Monday was a surreal experience. At this point I was downtown with Anne Kavanaugh, one of my dearest friends and cofounders of Steereo. It was unsafe to be near the coast at that point, and the magical weekend at Capitol had come to a close. My perspective leading up to the weekend was still there, but in a different way. Instead of feeling pulled into two conflicting worlds and working through selflessness vs. perceived selfishness and general anxiety, there was a sense of stillness. Pacific Ocean stillness. Even though I was miles away from the water, its affect on me was still so strong. Life is a series of balancing acts. I know full well the extent of unexpected difficulties on this journey, and have been blessed to experience some amazing gifts as well. In so many ways, being surrounded by a community in Malibu, and the community at Capitol showed me that through our inherent differences and shared similarities we have the power to uplift and strengthen one another. Regardless of the circumstances.

Sometimes we will need to pick each other up when we fall, and other times we will be able raise each other up to our full potential in the name of celebration. Through all of life’s chaos, there are lessons in humility and support. And through all of life’s treasures, there are moments of clarity, gratitude, and spiritual coexistence that help us all shed the parts that are afraid of so many things. The fear to reach out, the fear to survive, the fear in concrete and ethereal expression. The good moments will sometimes be paired with the bad. The ocean will sometimes be at the crossroads with the fire. However, throughout our heavenly and hellish experiences on this earth, there is one constant.

We are all here for a reason, and we all have the capacity to connect and love one another.

Regardless of the circumstances, no one can take that way from any of us.

Much love,

“Human kindness is overflowing but I think it’s gonna rain tonight!”

A friend reminded me of this lyric after I shared a picture on the gruelling effect chemo has on the body. I want to start by saying thank you to everyone for the human kindness—so far it’s been unbelievable! Big shoutout to my own nearest and dearest for putting up with my antics over the last couple of month! I love you!


Well, for once it isn’t raining in Ireland. It’s snowing! A new layer of complication and self reflection and the message that each one of us is Blessed.


I am now over 75% the way through my chemotherapy (Mvac) and this coming Monday and Tuesday will take rounds 7/8 which by the grace of god will complete my journey and I will start the road back to full health.


Thursday the 15th I will rescan and again the doctors will hold all the card on how it plays out. This terrifies me and motivates all at the same time. I’ve learned that as physical as cancer is, the game is ultimately played and won in the mind.


Letting go of the constant thoughts running through our heads opens up the gateway to our true being.


I have one outcome in my set in my mind! Can you take a guess at what that is?



Is this hope? Is this just a fantasy? But how do you  hope without fantasy? I’ve been thinking about that lately, trying to find hope without denial. Denial of my health symptoms is what made me ignore my serious health issues for a long time before I was diagnosed with cancer. But hope is what keeps me in the positive mental state enough to keep going.


How do I hope with honesty towards myself? I have been carefully checking my heart over this process to make sure I’m staying balanced, and the last two weeks have been making hope come alive in my heart. Hope is concrete, reality. Fantasy is all in your head.


And lately, my reality has been both terrible and wonderful at the same time.


Last week I did a shoot with the amazing Juliana Scodeler to try capture the moment and express what I’ve been lacking in words. (Insert photo ) That evening I walked the red carpet for “The gossies” and went home with the “Best Music Act” award.


Was that divine timing? To me, it signified a sense of certainty and hope that “this too shall pass.” It was a simple nod that I’ve been holding the perfect space of reality, while maintaining hopefulness in a realistic way.


It really felt like my “staring the lion in the face” moment. I wasn’t afraid, and I ended up walking away with the prize, even though just a nomination was an honor, and would have been more than enough.


You have the ability to choose which way you lean in every moment—the noise will come, the report will come, the scan will come, the outcome will make itself known. And through it all, we have to have concrete hope through our reality.


Like the drugs, I’ve let the news, both good and bad, pass through my body. The noise that my mind makes is no different than the chemicals that is pushed through my body. It’s what you ultimately chose to give your energy too that matters.


I’m giving my energy to awareness, hope and being present right now.


Share what you’re feeling. Talk about it. Check in with yourself. Evoke change now, so you don’t get caught off guard or side swiped by the storm.


Love and Light



Hair Today – Gone Tomorrow

It’s week three of treatment. I’ve got the drill down, I know how it will make me feel, when the nausea will strike, how long I’ll sleep, what I can eat to feel better.


Before each chemo round, I have a routine to prepare myself mentally.


I practically bounced into the hospital on Monday ready to face the challenge. When I arrived, they completed blood tests and I was told that my neutrophils were 0.1 (a tenth of where they needed to be), so after the nurses and consultants took some time to deliberate, they cancelled chemo for that day.


My body was not playing ball, and was clearly not responding well to treatment. My neutrophils being down translates as “Hey your immune system is shot, and you will have nothing to fight a simple cold or flu and we can’t take that risk,”


I was feeling so well that morning and was totally thrown with the fact that my mind was telling me one thing yet my blood from a physical perspective was saying, “OH NO NO.“


Naturally I felt relief that I got to avoid the vomiting, the imprint of the tile floor on my hands and knees from hugging the toilet for a few days. That morning, I’d been brimming with lyrics and melodies, but then I felt something other than sickness, I’d felt an  eagerness to get well and get back to what I love— my music world.


That hit to my health-confidence hit me that day. Just like I’d felt fine the last year, but my body was raging with stage 3 bladder cancer, that morning I’d felt fine, was planning my next steps in music and how after this was done i Want to simply get on the road and SING, and the nurses had bad news for me. My body hadn’t even been well enough to inject cancer-killing poison into it.


My Reality


I’ve been learning the difference between reality and fantasy lately, and how to be positive within my reality, rather than ignoring it in order to stay positive. I can be happy and have cancer. I can be whole and also sad about my circumstances. I can be afraid and still courageous about what is happening. Everyone is different regarding their journey, please feel free to share yours with me, Just reach out at any point Keithcullengm@yahoo.ie


“it takes a lot of strength to share yourself with someone else” A lyric of one of my songs written 5 years ago is back to remind why it was written!


Yesterday I stood in the shower, and for the first time, I had clumps of my body hair in my hand. As that was a particular fear of mine, As part of my treatment i am doing the “cold cap” (they basically freeze your head to stop the chemo targeting that area and have a 30% chance of working). I said I would take a 3/10 chance over none. Who knows if the pain of it is worth it from a vanity and identity point of view?


Hair has always been a touchy point for me. I was 18 when I started losing my hair, and at the age of 25 I had a hair transplant because I was so embarrassed. It was something I tried to fix and I succeeded.


Now, honestly, as much as I love the hair on my head, I’m fully ready to embrace the fact life will go on with or without it! I do wonder if i can pull off the bald emoji look.


Ladies I can’t speak for you, but I can imagine, as hair is such of part of modern day norms in terms of beauty that to have to face the loss of your lucious locks comes as shock and for some is tied to confidence and self esteem. I’m learning to give up my attachments to any body parts and truly appreciate the hard work the body does to keep me alive and deal with the drama it’s thrown day to day.


The outpouring from people, far and wide, the last 2 weeks has been a truly humbling and pure test of the amount of goodness there truly is in the world. People have shared their intimate stories of struggles, and assisted in lighting up some of my darker days.


With the thousands of messages that came in, each one of them was like an injection of  healing light that couldn’t have come at a better time. Being new to cancer and to chemotherapy I hadn’t imagined it would force me to be so brutally honest and reflective as I currently am.


Each decision I make now has meaning and the value attached to survival and being a source of good has never been stronger at the forefront of my mind.


I’ve been gracefully broken and now am  focused on rebuilding a stronger, more knowledgable, kinder Keith who surrenders to what my new path and will continue to keep my arms wide open to lifes opportunities whilst doing some good along the way.





P.s The cat nor the dog have left my side (animals are way smarter than we give them credit for)

Hello Cancer – Goodbye Doubt

Hello Cancer;

On Monday I started chemotherapy, 2 days of 4 different drugs. It’s Thursday now and I am finally able to lift my head off the pillow. It’s taken me awhile to sort through my feelings: the layers of fear and disbelief, the desire to ignore reality( I am best known for this) In the last couple of weeks I have finally admitted to myself, and I am able to say out loud that I have stage 3 bladder cancer Knowing that whatever happens I’ve had to welcome this DIS-ease into my body and figure out how to beat it before it beats me. Cancer is selfish/aggressive  and by nature will kill you first unwilling and unknowing it too kills itself!

All the signs were there, telling me my health was unraveling, but it took a medical emergency before I was ready to listen . This I don’t recommend and this is why I want to share my experience will anyone who will listen.

Last year was the best year I’ve ever had. I experienced some big personal awakenings, my career was on the rise, and my love life was finally worth talking about, the schedule was full, and the lessons I was learning along the way were inspiring me in all the right directions.

Exactly this time last year I was prepping to attend the Grammys, for a big showcase and for my album. We filmed a mini series, and during that hectic time, I started to notice blood in my urine. I thought I had some sort of infection.

Eager to stay on schedule and keep up with the recording, I resorted in doing the whole “mind over matter” bit, taking advice from health experts and finally seeing my local doctor. Without even touching me or doing any tests, he gave me antibiotics for what he supposed was a urinary tract infection. I repeated this scenario 3 times even though I had no symptoms and no pain.

At that point I was exercising daily, eating what I thought was clean food, and drinking little or no alcohol. I’ve never smoked and never taken any drugs, and I was meditating often and would have said I was feeling very little stress. I even did a seven day water fast to renew my kidneys, thinking it may be a stone.

By December, my symptoms worsened, and while I was on a trip in Sydney, I sought medical help again. Jessica, an Australian doctor I visited for more antibiotics, required me to have an ultrasound instead. That led to another specialist, which led to a CT scan, which led to my laying on the operating table in Sydney. December 8th will be a date I won’t forget as they removed a large tumour from by bladder not really knowing the full extent or nature of how the cancer had spread.


My head was silenced by the amazing, beautiful people around me who made the last 6 weeks as calm as possible, they stepped in whether it meant travelling the other side of the world to be with me, A daily check in, Getting and paying for the best people in holistic medicine to talk me through and educate me so I can be informed and empowered and not be doubtful or fearful and finally learn to respect the decisions I make for my own life-force. To my earth angels you know who you are and with tears in my eyes I say “Thank you”

My sister flew in to be with me, and a few days after my surgery, I flew back to Ireland with her. I completed a one-month health intensive at Hippocrates, to get my brain and body as healthy as possible before I started my pharmaceutical medical treatments.

I’ve experienced every different type of emotion possible over the last six weeks, from “WHY ME,” to “I got this,” to “I’m ok,” to “This sucks balls.”

People keep asking me how I am, as they normally would, and up to this point, I’ve maintained my usual positive attitude.

Everything I’ve submerged myself in the last 5 years from my music, to my relationships, and even any business pursuits has been rooted in honesty and awareness of self.

And that’s why this letter, too, is about honesty and awareness, and me being okay with not being okay.

Sometimes Ive cried, got angry, lost the run of myself I also watched other peoples stories and taken strength in the fact I’m still here to tell the tale and in some weird twist of faith this too will shape the future of the human I’m supposed to become . Sometimes I think about what I would want my family to have if I died. And sometimes I feel like I’ll live forever, and start writing lyrics, pulling the beautiful diamonds out of this dark space I’m in. Sometimes I wake up grateful, excited to see the other people on this journey with me. Sometimes I go for a long, sunshine filled walk, and plan a trip or two to the beach, once I get back to my adopted home in Malibu, California.

I never thought I’d be here, especially in my early 30’s. But, here I am. And I’m not glad about the circumstances—yes, it’s hard—but I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning. I’ve had to stop, breathe, listen to my body, and make very calculated, healthful decisions.

I’m not broken. I am supported. I am strong. I am full of health and light. I am also full of emotion, and I’m learning that it might feel scary at times, but emotions are good indicators of our mental and physical and spiritual health, and I need to take the time to listen to them and process them, the way I would listen to my stomach growl and give it nutrition. I’m learning to respond to my rich inner world, damp it down less, and how to process it in a healthy way with the right people by my side. I’m learning to stop and breathe more often. 

And I wouldn’t have given myself a month long retreat to focus on my physical being if it hadn’t been for this massive road block.

Don’t do what I did. Listen to your body, the subtle things. Pay attention. I know I will now. I’ve only got one, and it’s precious to me, more than it’s ever been. I’m grateful for my body now. Now, I know how powerful it is, and how beautiful it makes me, and I will treat it with the respect it deserves, Flaws and all! I will honour my earthly home, my flesh, and I have learned how to treat it well in the last few weeks.

Take 2018 and assess your health—mental, physical, spiritual. Take the self-kindness steps to improve it, to treat yourself with the same respect you’d give others, I look forward to open lines of communication and spreading this message

Love and light

Saying Something in Australia

I’ve been so fortunate so far to be having a great time in Australia, and have been keeping incredibly busy. With so many new people to meet and things to do, this experience has already been immensely rewarding. Travelling has such a unique way of opening up our eyes: it gives us a fresh perspective in a brand new place. This past week, I’ve had the most rewarding experiences: climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and taking in the insane views, strolling through the charming Botanical Gardens, taking a trip down to the beautiful Lake Macquarie, and of course eating the most delicious food (can definitely recommend Thrive and China for anyone in the area). All of these new adventures have been incredible, reminding me of how while traveling can force us out of our comfort zone, going to new places can be refreshing and allows us to refocus and revitalize.


With this mindset, my experience in Australia so far has reminded me of my song “Say Something”. Almost a year-old now, “Say Something” is all about the importance of being real. With all the people we come in contact with everyday, it’s easy to talk in circles, speaking only on the surface. It’s often much simpler to speak generally and gloss over any issues, but how can we form real connections if we never truly say something?


The rejuvenated self Australia has brought me reminds me of just that. There’s so many people out there, with so many different backgrounds and stories to tell. Being in a new place affords countless new opportunities, but to take advantage of that, you need to get past the surface level, and really speak.

Turn On The Light – Behind The Scenes with Kamal Ibrahim

I can’t believe it’s been four weeks now since the release of “Turn On the Light”. There are so many incredible people to thank for this whole experience, but none of it would be possible without Kamal Ibrahim. Kamal and I met back in 2010 after my first EP release, so reconnecting with him for collaboration on Turn On the Light made perfect sense.


Kamal understood my message perfectly. The conception behind the video came about effortlessly and easily, matching beautifully with the song. The video captures everything I wanted to say, coinciding with my lyrics and portraying them on screen.“Turn On the Light” has meant so much to me, so it was important that the video reflected that, and I could not be more grateful to Kamal for his direction. I’m also thankful for the Helen Jordan Stage School for allowing us to shoot on campus, as well as our leading lady, Julie, for a beautiful job well done.


Kamal’s creativity and artistry truly speaks for itself. Be sure to check out his latest projects: “The Last Summer”, and Immersive dinner play running at the Whale Theatre from November 30th until December 4th. You can also watch his recently released short film, “If Only”, made in regards to Mental Health Week on his Facebook.

Give A Home

Words really, truly, can not describe how excited I am to be performing on September 20th at Sofar’s event Give a Home. This is the largest music charity organization where THOUSANDS of artists, both tremendously famous and underground, come together in thousands of homes to perform and raise money for those millions who were forced to flee their homes. On September 20th, there will be over 300 concerts happening at the exact same time in 60 different countries. The biggest music event to happen in history. This is all for the support of 22 million refugees. All benefits will be going towards these refugees. This is an incredibly beautiful event because not only is it supporting a tremendously amazing cause, but it is also giving thousands of artists around the world the opportunity to do what they love best while at the same time helping those in need. This is what an artist lives for. To make a tremendously positive impact through doing what they love. In this case, it is performing. Join me, along with a huge number of artists, in performing for Give A Home. Together, with the charity organization Amnesty, we will unite musicians and fans worldwide in support of the millions of refugees everywhere.

Where Dreams Come True

A couple weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the most magical place on earth with my lovely family, Disney World. This was a treat for my nephew which made him incredibly happy. During my trip, I really got the opportunity to explore life through the eyes of a child again. It reminded me of how, as a child, I used to dream of owning the stage. Having my name all over the world and people non-stop listening to my music. As a kid, anything you think of is possible. You have absolutely nothing in your way stopping you from reaching your goals. As we grow older, unfortunately, we start to lose that ambition and start to create barriers in our minds depending on the environment we are raised in. Although I had never lost this ambition of becoming a musician,  it was just the perfect reminder I needed to strengthen my ambition and mindset with the music industry. Being in Disney World reminded me of just how exciting it is to let go of all your problems and to just run around doing every single thing that is fun and adventurous to you. It reminded me that no matter how old you get, there are still ways to go out and achieve whatever you put your mind to. I’m so happy I got to go on this adventure which gave me the opportunity to get in touch with my inner kid. Disney truly is the happiest place on Earth.

Iron Clouds

I can not begin to describe how blessed and grateful I am to have had the opportunity to release my new EP Iron Clouds out to the public today. The EP is called Iron Clouds because the contrast between iron and clouds is the same as the contrast in the music. The strength in iron represents the strength in the message behind the music while clouds are a representation of the more intelligent and emotional side of this four song EP. Iron Clouds is filled with all different type of emotions that the listener can feel and sense upon pressing play. This is a deeper insight on love, distance, hurt, and the separation of loved ones. I hope that this EP inspires people to go out and fight for what they love, let go of the things that hurt them, and live their life to their absolute fullest potential.

Here is the link for Iron Clouds now on spotify so you, too, can experience these emotions:

Backyard Sessions LA

This past Friday, I had the honor of performing and collaberating alongside the incredibly talented Mauricio Jiminez from Night Lights at Backyard Sessions in Mar Vista , LA. After Mau’s wonderful performance, I stepped onto the stage to perform a ~sneak peek~ set in anticipation for my new EP that is soon to be released. It was incredibly overwhelming watching the audience react to my set in such a joyful and energy-filled way. The key highlight to my night was when I performed “Missing Piece”. This, to me, is a very personal piece that comes from the very first day I saw my beautiful nephew after his arrival into the world. I wanted this song to speak and touch the audience with warmth and light. Reassuring them, and my nephew, that everything is going to be alright and that through music, perspectives can change. Without my audience and fans, my life would not be complete. They would be the key missing piece to my success. The fact that I got to see this message reach the physical audience in front of me last Friday, was absolutely phenomenal. I want to thank everyone who came to the Backyard Sessions  and gave Mau and myself the opportunity to perform. I would also like to thank the wonderful Alison Buck for capturing this lovely night and my accompaniment, the great Kazumi.

~*Look out for my new EP release coming soon*~