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Keaton Henson photographed by Sophie Harris Taylor


Keaton Henson: How Music Can Make You Feel

You know the feeling you get when music completely takes over your body, and you feel tingles and shivers and goosebumps running through you, down your legs and your arms and your spine, sometimes in your head? If you’re not familiar with this, or you can’t physically feel these sensations, don’t feel too disheartened. I’m not meaning to push you out of this narrative; you don’t have to feel something physically to love music or to connect with music or a particular artist.

This phenomenon is called “frisson” (pronounced “free-sawn”), and it’s relatively popular, with an estimated two-thirds of the population of the world experiencing it, whether from music or looking at artwork or watching an emotional scene in a movie.
I feel this a lot when listening to music or watching emotional scenes of a tv show or a movie, and it’s mostly followed by my eyes filling with tears or getting choked up. I feel this the most when I listen to Keaton Henson.

If you’re not familiar with him, Keaton Henson is an English singer-songwriter, artist, and poet. He has four albums and an EP under his own name, and one album, Behaving, which showcased his foray into electronic inspired music. He is best known for his somber and heartbreaking lyrics, with songs featuring piano, guitar, and string ensembles underneath his quiet and trembling, but powerful, vocals.
His music is heartbreaking, his vocals hypnotic in their pain and their sadness, but it’s his own story as a person as makes his music so much more poignant: he suffers from chronic anxiety.

He writes from the point of view of an anxious person, who uses their particular medium, whatever that is, as an artist to express themselves. Because of the nature of being a singer, performing is expected, and to Henson, performing is horrendous. I feel like Keaton Henson sums up a lot of what creatives are like now; they want to write, or perform, or make, their art, but they’re afraid of failing, having nothing to say, not being accepted, nor good enough.

With the rising cases of anxiety in, particularly, young people;, Keaton Henson gives an outlet, a voice of understanding. He gives anxious people hope by living a life that one doesn’t normally associate with anxiety. He’s still doing what he loves. He does do a couple of performances, and he’s still successful in an industry that profits off selling oneself (which he hasn’t done). Keaton Henson has given me hope, as a person that can be quite anxious, and it’s not just me. He’s reached in and touched people in a way he probably would never have expected. He’s not looking to do that. He just wants to do the things he loves. Keaton Henson epitomizes the idea of music as a creative outlet, as a way to express oneself and a way to connect with people.

If you haven’t already, whether you’re struggling with anxiety, not feeling good enough, or just wanting to listen to music that has the power to touch you and shape you in ways you probably didn’t realize beforehand, go listen to Keaton Henson. Put headphones on, and maybe start off with his instrumental album with “Ren Ford”, called Romantic Works, because I have to say it’s haunting, or Kindly Now, Birthdays, or Dear. Because I promise you, there’s nothing quite like his music, with its ability to move you, shape you, break you, and build you up again.

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Nina is an 18-year-old introverted girl who is passionate about inclusive feminism, body positivity and religious studies - and when she's not writing she's probably watching SKAM, trying to learn Norwegian or stuck with her head in a book.

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