It’s been a hectic year and half for Dublin-born, London-based multi-disciplinarian Constance Keane. On the one hand, she’s been in the midst of the rapid rise and non-stop touring of her feminist punk band M(h)aol, as well as the release of their debut album 'Attachment Styles' in November.

With the other, she juggled writing and recording her solo project Fears’ second full-length project 'affinity', which has just been released. It’s not been the easiest moment for Keane to get her head around.

I’m definitely feeling this second album confusion” she admits as she chats to Goldenplec from her London apartment, “It’s like going to a therapist, for the first one you have to explain your whole background and everything that’s happened to bring you to this point, whilst the second album is like when you take a break from your therapist so when you come back they already know the background."

"We’ve had new experiences and you already know all about my family and past relationships so we don’t need to go over that again

Fears’ debut 'Oíche' grappled with Keane’s experience of trauma, with tracks written and recorded during a stint in psychiatric care. 'affinity', in comparison, was written in the bright lights of two of the world’s busiest cities in London and New York.

The contrast in the emotional fragility of both records are notable, with the latter certainly feeling like it has got a more balanced sense of acceptance, and whilst some of the emotions and experiences of 'Oíche' are present on 'affinity', the distance between events offers a more rounded sense of perspective, making it an altogether more happy album.

Happiness, however, is its own vulnerability, as Keane admits to half waiting for it all to fall apart again.

It was less to do with the subject matter and more to do with the sonic make-up of the album” Keane explains of the difference between the records, “I went into it wanting to explore how my physical, geographical surroundings would impact my work. The first album was very much nature based, there was a lot of space and a lot of quiet whereas for this one I only made it in cities”. 

For me it was an exercise in seeing what impact being around so many people has on the music. Does it bring out harsher sounds or does it means it all goes a little more washy as everything blends into one continuos noise?

"That’s what I really wanted to explore. New York and London are full of people shouting at each other, which is one of my favourite things about them, they are very expressive places and it’s very normal and safe environment to express yourself. You may not be listened to but you have the freedom to express yourself without feeling like you are disturbing others”.

Work on 'affinity' began not long after she had wrapped up Oiche. The first song written from the project was ‘Sixteen’ and it was clear to Keane from that moment that album two had begun. The song was written while house-sitting for a friend at the end of 2021 on an acoustic guitar within an hour of picking it up. “I knew then the Oíche chapter was over and we’d opened the next one”.

For many, having to juggle writing for an introspective solo project and a rip-roaring punk outfit would be a head spinner, but Keane found it easy. “I feel like Mhaol and Fears are the two sides of my personality, both co-exist” she explains when asked of the balancing act, “I used to worry that I’d have to split things into eras, a Mhaol era then a Fears era but I find they both feed into each other.

!I know very quickly which project a song is for. That’s the benefity of having such song themes around each project, subject matter naturally feeds into one or the other”. 

Spending hours a day on a tour bus jumping from city to city also gave Keane the opportunity to explore what a Fears live show and tour would look like, having never really explored the idea on the first album.

It’s predominately me, standing there being vulnerable in an outfit I’ve specifically designed. It’ll be me, a sampler and a guitar” she explains of what audiences can expect when she takes to the Sugar Club on April 3rd, “It’ll be a decent blend of the first and second album, it’ll be mostly just me with the odd guest I’ve collaborated with joining in different cities”.

I felt very strongly about it being just me on Oíche, it felt like the right thing to do, but album two was definitely inspired by other artists around me” Keane explains of the decision to invite other artists onboard for affinity.

Highlaker (Jemima Coulter), who can be heard on ‘11249’, had driven M(h)aol on tour in the US and Keane found their presence calming. “When I was in New York last summer I just walked around listening to them on repeat, and it felt really right to have them on the song”.

It was a similar story with Ailbhe Reddy, who Keane lived with whilst in New York. It felt only right that both Reddy and Coulter feature on a track written specifically about the experience of living in the city.

As affinity’s release was closing in, Keane had begun to look forward to what excited her about listeners diving into the record. She notes that while her audience may not be the biggest, she feels an instant connection with anyone who has take the time to tune in.

I feel like I end up wih very special people who connect with my music. I skip the small talk with people and it’s something I’m eternally grateful for”.

Even if five people buy my record it feels like all five really connect with it and that something I’m making connects with them in a very personal and true way” she continues, “That’s what excites me the most. I often think about what I’m trying to do with art in general and it’s all about connection. I’m not a very sociable person so I find creating art the simplest form of communication”.

Fears plays The Sugar Club on Wednesday 3rd April Tickets are on sale now.