Dermot Kennedy Tells a Story of Loss in “Moments Passed” Video

Dermot Kennedy Tells a Story of Loss in “Moments Passed” Video

We talk to the rising artist about his new video and what inspired him in the first place.

We talk to the rising artist about his new video and what inspired him in the first place.

Text: Jake Viswanath

Dermot Kennedy has taken off as one of the music world's most rising stars in an instant, garnering over 100 million streams and selling out shows across Europe and North America as he becomes known for his emotionally intense live experience—even without a debut project to his name. But that's all about to change. In his new video for "Moments Passed," premiering on VMAN, the artist tells an emotional story of love and loss through the lens and memories of an older man. Directed by Nabil, who's helmed videos for Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar in the past, it's an intense perspective that perfectly compliments his rough-and-tumble accent and pleading tone on the soulful rock ballad.

We caught up with Dermot to talk about what inspired the video, the background behind his artistry, and just how his performances have already acquired such a big reputation.

Tell us about the concept of the new video. What inspired it, and how did it come to life?

It's the story of a lonely older man who has been laid low by loss. And the video is based around him, but it's also based on his memories, which focus on happier times, when he was passionate, full of life and in love. And now in his old age he is none of those things, due to the loss he has suffered. The memories are his only consolation, and he relives them constantly in his head, pining for those times when he was young. These themes of loss and intense love are also key to the song, and to lots of my music. Nabil and I discussed the idea, but the very first thing he did when we spoke on the phone was tell me what he took from the song, in terms of the meaning he found in it, and he nailed it, so it felt like we were instantly off to a good start.

What inspired “Moments Passed”? How did the song come to life?

The very first part of this song that came to be was the intro. It's just a loop of my vocal played on a keyboard. And when I heard it first I just got so excited and knew I had to build a song around it. So that was the foundation. Like the video, it's a song that's inspired by the love I've experienced, and the loss I've been affected by. There is light and darkness in this song, but ultimately it's about how powerful love can be. The chorus has a lyric that says, "She said, 'oh I know that love is all about the wind. How it can hold me up and kill me in the end. Still I loved it.' " This line kind of sums up the whole idea of the song. That love can be beautiful and it can be brutal, but we should never hide from it just for the sake of protecting ourselves.

How did you get your start in music, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do for a career?

I started taking music more seriously pretty much when I left school at 17 years old. I went and got a degree in classical music, and after college the band I had been in broke up, and so I busked in the streets quite a bit to try make some money for recording time. Once I got that, I went and recorded three songs, which became my first uploads to Spotify. A while after that, they starting getting quite a few plays and more and more people started coming to shows. And I guess I've known this is what I wanted to do since quite a young age. But to be honest, I never ever thought of it like that. I'd genuinely be doing this whether it was working for me or not! So the fact that I get to do it full time and make a career out of it is just a super massive bonus. I've been deeply moved by people expressing themselves for as long as I can remember. Be it through folk music, hip hop or poetry, I always knew I wanted to try and get my feelings out in the most honest way possible. So I'd be chasing that feeling no matter what.

How has your upbringing in Ireland affected your music, if at all?

I think being from Ireland has definitely affected my music. Where I grew up is in the middle of nowhere, and it's right beside a forest, so I think my sense of wonder was nurtured by that, which probably plays a part when it comes to how I create things, especially in terms of my lyrics. But in a broader sense, I'm very proud to be an Irish songwriter. There are legends from here, such as Glen Hansard and Van Morrison, people I admire and look up to. And in terms of my upbringing, I was lucky enough to be encouraged to chase this dream. I was never led down a different path, and everyone around me has always believed in me absolutely, so I do my best not to take that for granted.

What is your goal performing live? What do you hope to give and leave to the audience?

When I perform live, all I want is an exchange between me and anybody who has come along to listen or sing along, whether it's a hundred or a thousand people. If I've written some words and some music that makes somebody feel something, I just want to share that with them. I want to create a situation where everybody who shows up can forget about everything else for the duration of that show. That we can get lost together and leave everything else behind us for a small amount of time. And if I can give my all each night, and play honest music to people who truly care and are there to feel something, then I'll be a happy man every time.

UP NEXT

Get a Peek at Sies Marjan’s First Menswear Capsule Collection