INTERVIEW: Kevin P. Gilday | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Spam Valley is an autobiographical performance based on the social and mental guilt of growing up working class but enjoying a very middle-class career path, something that might resonate with a few of us here. I pinned down writer and performer Kevin P. Gilday, taking a few minutes from his busy schedule, to find out the whys and wherefores…

“I wasn’t seeing my own lived experience reflected in the art I consumed, and I needed to address that. Whenever there was art about working class lives or culture it tended towards the extremes – severe poverty, addiction and gang culture. In my experience working-class living is boring. It’s slow and tiring and mundane. It’s designed to be. There were no shows about those of us who grew up in working class homes but don’t feel welcome in working class culture. I wanted to give a voice to that experience. To unpick the intricacies of it.”

Kevin is a multi-disciplinarian blending comedy, poetry and spoken word on Spam Valley but he told me it all starts out a lot less structured. “At the start of the process it’s all over the place. It’s just about what I want to say and how to get there in the most engaging, exciting way. The structure starts to emerge from asking those questions about what I want to say and why. Sometimes that’s a monologue, sometimes it’s a stand-up routine, sometimes it’s a spoken word piece. They’re all just tools in putting your point across.” And the working-class themes? “I write for connection. I want people to understand me and to understand themselves a bit better. You can’t just be a passive spectator at one of my shows – you need to think. This isn’t the kind of show that makes you laugh for an hour and sends you on your way. This is a piece designed to stay with you.”

Whenever there was art about working class lives or culture it tended towards the extremes – severe poverty, addiction and gang culture

For someone who has toured all over the world and at some of the biggest festivals and fringes I asked Kevin if it is important to keep performing at independent venues. “It’s all well and good sitting back in the knowledge that you’re a genius, just waiting to be discovered but in reality you need to get out there and bring your art to your audience. I think independent venues like The Stand are the places where risks are still taken, where the unconventional is programmed rather than just what is obviously popular – thank fuck for them I say.”

And with that, I just had time to ask what else we can expect this year from the perpetual creator. “As well as touring Spam Valley I’ll be [promoting] my latest book, Anxiety Music. Away from the stage I’ll be working on a new non-fiction piece and new music with my band Kevin P. Gilday & The Glasgow Cross. I’ll also be bringing back my community project Bank of Springburn, a pop-up arts space in North Glasgow in a disused bank, in association with National Theatre of Scotland.”

Spam Valley by Kevin P. Gilday is performed at The Stand, Newcastle on Sunday 19th March.

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