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Soundtrack for life

Smokefreerockquest judges saw double in this year’s competition when repeat offender Keira Batten Coogan made it into the national finals.

It only takes a minute speaking to the Gisborne Girls’ High School Year 12 pupil to know she’s more musician than student.

“I’m not studying anything interesting, just music,” Keira says when asked about school.

“I have found a lot of music that has been really important to me, and I want to be able to write the kind of lyrics people have been waiting to hear, to have someone else explaining what you feel.

“I want to put them anywhere where people who need to hear them can find them. People who are like me, people who have had similar experiences to me.”

Asked what music she likes, Keira says it is the simple songs that get her.

“Music, words and lyrics not covered with layers of noise but steeped in meaning.

“The stuff that moves you without you knowing why.”

Adrianne Lenker is a favourite at the moment.

“That’s the kind of music I want to write. It’s the perfect soundtrack for specific moments in life.

“Those checkpoint moments, when everything comes together. It’s just simple things, like being with my friends. Everyone sitting around talking, everyone knows each other, everyone feels safe.”

A YouTube video from three years ago shows a younger Keira at the piano singing like a teenage Regina Spektor.

That was before.

Now she’s onstage in leather jackets with bleach blonde hair.

For this year’s Smokefreerockquest Keira entered the regionals heat with the band Shaggy Hates Figs and also into the solo category.

The double-act is completely above board, per Smokefreerockquest rules, and is a way for artists to perform in a band and perform solo without dragging out the live audience nights with hundreds of performances.

Keira’s persistence and talent paid off when she made it into the national finals for her solo work.

A scattering of Keira’s songs can be found on Spotify and YouTube, but for the real deal you will be able to see her live at the Tairawhiti Arts Festival and at Taiki E’s monthly jam and tea event in Treble Court.

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF: Keira Batten Coogan made it into the next round of the Smokefreerockquest for her outstanding solo performance. Picture supplied