When we last spoke to Declan McKenna, he let us in on a secret that could set any indie fan’s heart racing. “I have been talking to Sam Fender for ages about doing something together,” he revealed in his Big Read interview for his second album, ‘Zeros’. “Sam has managed to plug himself into owning some crazy studio in Newcastle, and I’d like to go there – I’ll make it my next trek.”
As NME sits down with McKenna a year on to chat prior to his performance at Reading Festival, we have to ask, have there been any developments there? “No… we’ve both been doing all sorts of shit! Today marks the first time I’ll have seen him in two years.” the 22-year-old laughs. But fear not, this mega collaboration is still on the horizon: “We’ll still get in that studio at some point, though.”
McKenna has instead spent the last 12 months honing his production skills in preparation for album three. “Having creative control has always been important to me in different ways,” he says. “I feel like that’s all a new record can be, a learning curve. I find that with each new record I’m learning more and dipping my toes into new things.”
He continues: “Taking the reigns over my production has meant that I have many of these recordings in my computer, and they are there for me to fuck with – that’s been the exciting point of this.”
But before he can return to hunkering down to finish his new music, McKenna had the honour of making his main stage debut at the weekend’s festival [August 27]. He describes Reading as a festival that has “always been so important to [him]”, and after waiting a year to give the tracks from ‘Zeros’ their live airing, he explains how this year’s edition feels monumental: “‘Zeros is fucking intense. But finally seeing it come to life has been like, ‘Wow, this is really what it’s all about!’”
Watch our full interview with Declan McKenna at Reading 2021 above
Check back at NME all weekend for more reviews, news, interviews, photos and more from Reading & Leeds 2021.