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  • Carys Chapman-Vari

It’s Bedroom, Not Bedroom Pop: Keira Batten Coogan’s New EP Lips Are For Talking

Words by Carys Chapman-Vari (she/her)

A few weeks ago, my mate put on this cool, indie-sounding artist while we were getting ready to go out. After hearing the first few lines, I was obsessed.

Every friend I’ve shown Keira Batten Coogan’s (he/they) music to has had the same reaction. Ready to seek out their next tour dates and learn about their background, I was shocked when my mate told me that Keira wasn’t a major underground super-star. Well not yet, anyway. Keira, instead, is an 18-year-old first-year Media Studies student here at VUW, and was kind enough to let me interview them for this piece.

Keira has been involved with music their whole life.

“My whole family is super musical. […] At family events, everyone puts on performances for each other and gets into little bands. [...] It's pretty cute.” Keira’s involvement in music is all thanks to their dad, who worked as a music teacher at the same intermediate Keira attended. This led to seven consecutive years of competing at Smokefree Rockquest, which Keira said never drained them, but only motivated them to be more creative every year. Recently, Keira was named in the top ten national solo artists for Rockquest, and received a Gifted and Talented Learners grant from the Ministry of Education to record and produce their new EP Lips Are For Talking.

Keira isn’t writing to fit in a genre or be labelled, but for themselves and for “people who don’t have things made for them”. “My music [aims to be] a representation for queer people and neurodivergent people. Really, it’s for anyone who finds a piece of themselves in [one of my] lyrics, a bridge, or song.”

Keira describes their songwriting process as turning poetry into song lyrics, which leads to their incredibly personal sound. This blend between music and poetry is one their favourite parts of making music. “My favourite long-lasting song on the EP is ‘Waste A Pretty Girl’. The bridge that I'm really proud of is: ‘I've learnt that politeness is safety / Does that make you think I'm in love with you baby?’”

Keira is a transparent artist and describes themselves in their Spotify bio as an artist who writes about “girlhood, queerness, and growing pains”. We struggled to find three words to describe their music, but we landed with “auto-biographical, bedroom, and comfort”. “There's not a single major event in my life I don't have a song about. It’s very weird to put it out there and have it as entertainment for people, it’s like an archive of my life on display. But it’s really cool that other people can connect with that.”

So what’s up next for Keira? “Honestly, I don’t know just yet. After releasing the EP, recording and producing feels less scary. I'll probably just keep gigging. My sister’s band Cicada is who I usually perform with, but over the summer I'll probably be at Smash Palace in Gisborne.”

If you want to know more, listen to Lips Are For Talking and follow Keira on Spotify and Instagram.

Instagram: @_kkeira

Spotify and Apple Music: Keira Batten Coogan


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