Caught by a breeze that has quickly become a tempest, emergent four-piece, Keyside have found their new single, Nikita on the repeat playlists of mainstream UK radio stations, including BBC 6 Music, Radio One and Radio X, causing fevered chat around their 80’s-echoing guitar pop. Connecting with purity of the song’s structure and delivery, part-council pop and part-bookish new wave anthem, Nikita’s appearances on daytime airwaves collided with sold-out EP launch gigs in their native Liverpool, neighbouring Manchester and beyond.


The four-track EP, the band’s first for leading UK indie label, Modern Sky, followed a succession of self-released indie singles and hyped gigs, but the rush of enthusiasm for Nikita and resultant music industry interest will have led thousands of newcomers to ask: Who are Keyside?

Arriving fresh as outsiders, missing from tastemaker media ones to watch lists at the turn of the year, Keyside – comprised of Dan Parker (vocals/guitar), Ben Cassidy (lead guitar), Max Gibson (bass and backing vocals) and Oisin McAvoy (drums) – have emerged as a surprise springtime tip coming out of a long, cold British winter. Accompanied by the EP’s previous singles, the easy-on-the-ear classic, Coral-esque indie jangle of Angeline and ethereal, lost Echo and The Bunnymen classic sound of Turn Back The Time, Nikita’s ‘straight to the chorus’ radio-friendly immediacy, belying its story of desperate addiction, has served the band up to the widest possible audience at just the right time.

“We don’t make McDonalds music!” offers Cassidy by way of an introduction, when asked about Keyside’s sound. “We’re going for a fresh modern sound. Complicated but uncomplicated? Music backed up with musicality? Some of the stuff we do musically makes it more complex than it sounds.”

The blend of complexity with accessibility has found Keyside not only with indie label support but also a live leg-up from their peers. In a short space of time the band has appeared on stages as exalted as Manchester’s New Century, alongside hot-property, Seb Lowe and Liverpool’s O2 Academy with Brooke Combe. Their recent, lock-out headline show at the Arts Club in Liverpool offered celebration and a springboard into the summer as the band considers a busy festival season including Sound City, On The Waterfront and Cosmic Cape.

Considering that the band's songwriter and frontman, Parker states he was 'lost' as recently as 2019, being referred to a guitar teacher as an avenue of healthy escape, the rapid learning and work-rate that led so quickly to his first songs emerging, Keyside forming and the release of their first single, Lights Out, in 2022, is a story of falling completely in love with writing. "When I'm in the zone, l try to let songs write themselves. Once there is thought of the story, the melody follows. I feel like a mediator when I’m writing something.” Parker says. "Also, I sing in the shower. Usually, a song I'm writing. I get good ideas from my subconscious in the shower. There are no distractions."

While Keyside is a quintessentially Liverpool band, there’s more to their DNA, with drummer, McAvoy, arriving in the city from Northern Ireland and bassist, Gibson, being half-Spanish. The former is at ease in agreeing with the band’s singer’s strongly stated interests in the back catalogue of The Police, stating Stewart Copeland as his favourite and primary drumming influence, whilst also quoting The Pogues as having resonant impact on his life as a musician. When it comes to influences, guitarist, Cassidy is straight-talking, saying: “The Coral and Steely Dan. If you can produce tunes like The Coral and play instruments like Steely Dan you can’t go wrong.”

As completists in pursuing similar vitality to the iconic artists that spool through their own playlists, Keyside’s visual identity has leapt from earnest, clouded-sky northernism to something alluringly exotic on Nikita’s release. Much like Buzzcocks’ collaborations with Malcolm Garrett or Happy Mondays’ identity exploding via Central Station, Keyside’s own colourful partnership with Toucan Tango has bore first fruit, painting a conceptual line along which future releases will tread.

That same sense of primary-coloured escapism and romance abound when Keyside sit down to write and stand up to perform, with older, live-favourite songs like Paris To Marseille sketching outlines of road trips to places only imagined. Cassidy says: “Dan had the chorus already; he always writes notes when he’s out walking. Generally, he has the melody, or at least the chorus, in his head first. This time, he was walking by the river, looked at the lights across the water and came up with the reservoir line.”

Similarly, Nikita isn’t a person that’s part of their social circle, yet what Parker has seen of life, growing up in inner-city Liverpool means that the character’s story of struggle isn’t beyond the realms of realistic imagination. As Keyside start to rise further, it’s stories like these, and a baton carried from indie documentarians like The Smiths and The La’s, which gives them a chance to mark out territory that’s all their own.


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