b. Wales. The child of a Breton father (the poet Paol Keineg) and Welsh mother who were active in the Breton independence movement, Katell Keineg (pronounced Cat-Ell-Kay-Neck) listened to both Welsh and French folk music in her youth. When the family moved to Wales, Keineg immersed herself in local choirs, appearing at several Eisteddfods and exposing herself to the pop sounds of the day. By the age of 16 she was busking on the streets of Cardiff, before professional engagements took her throughout Britain, before making her home in Dublin. Her first release was the haunting ‘Hestia’, a 7-inch single released on Bob Mould’s Singles Only Label. Fred Maher, a veteran of work with Lou Reed and Scritti Politti, helped out on the production of her debut album, recorded in New York and released in 1994 by Elektra Records. Also present were her long-standing musical collaborators, Paul Tiernan (guitar) and Garvan Gallagher (double bass) on a collection of songs which spanned jazz, unaffected Celtic folk, raw blues and passages of spoken word narration. The closing track ‘The Gulf Of Araby’ was later covered by Natalie Merchant.
Keineg recorded one further album for Elektra, 1997’s off-beat classic Jet. The album, recorded with co-producers Eric Drew Feldman (Pere Ubu) and Natalie Merchant associate John Holbrook, utilised unusual instrumentation such as children’s toys and trinkets to create bewitching worlds within songs. The stand-out tracks ‘The Battle Of The Trees’ and ‘Mother’s Map’ were among Keineg’s finest creations. The artist then spent the next five years travelling and performing, returning to the studio to record three new tracks for the 2002 EP What’s The Only Thing Worse Than The End Of Time? The other track on the EP was a live cover version of Nick Drake’s ‘River Man’, from a tribute concert for the cult UK folk artist held at St. Ann’s Church in Brooklyn, New York. A new Keineg single ‘Shaking The Disease’ followed at the end of 2003, serving as a taster for her third studio album High July.