Songs of Friends at Wangaratta – Josh Kyle and Sam Keevers

Josh Kyle and Sam Keevers - Songs of Friends

Sam Keevers (piano) and Josh Kyle (voice) have been working together on their Songs of Friends project for over a year now. They performed songs from the project at Stonnington Jazz Festival, and on the strength of that have been invited to be part of Wangaratta Jazz Festival.

Josh Kyle and Sam Keevers - Songs of Friends
Sam Keevers and Josh Kyle | image by Lisa Abbott

Speaking to Josh by phone this week, he’s thrilled to be heading to Wangaratta on the weekend. ‘It was really nice to have Adrian [Jackson, Artistic Director] be excited about it and think it was relevant enough to be part of Wangaratta.’

Josh is looking forward to singing it in the Holy Trinity Cathedral. ‘I think the acoustic vibe, and being a duo, that setting will be really very special.’

He has been wanting to collaborate with Sam Keevers for a long time. ‘He has such a sensibility when it comes to singers. It’s an actual conversation when it comes to Sam. He’s on the page. I reckon that’s a really big skill in itself.’

The project revolves around instrumental works by Australian composers – for which Josh has written lyrics, reinterpreting the instrumental tunes.

Josh is attracted to music that comes from the heart and says that all the tunes he’s chosen have the kind of investment that he believes matters in music. ‘The harmonic structure also has to catch my attention when I’m listening to songs with lyrics in mind. The thing I found is that all these songs sing really well. They are all very melodic.’

‘When I was first listening to Dan Gassin’s tune ‘Crossover’ I was finding ways to articulate so that I could sing along with it… little phrases were popping into my mind that were fitting in with the rhythmic nature of the melody. The lyrics were written for Josh’s baby cousin, who passed away recently. ‘Crossover’ was one of the pieces I was listening to at that time.

After writing lyrics for the songs, Josh took them to the composers, ‘to see if I’d captured anything like what they were trying to do with the tune’. The two were not always aligned exactly, but there were strong links.

For the Sam Keevers tune ‘Simple Pleasures’ Josh wrote lyrics around his first experience of love and found out afterwards that Sam had written the tune about his first dog. ‘The concepts aren’t that far from each other, when you think about it.’

The lyrics for the Sean Coffin tune ‘Cutez’ were about Josh leaving Australia and how that feels, while Coffin had written the tune about his first daughter. ‘Perhaps there are similarities about how some things can turn your life upside down.’

Josh chooses tunes that he is ‘physically able to sing’ but admits that the song by Keevers is challenging – ‘that one’s a bit of a technical exercise as well!’

Josh also wrote one of the tunes with Sean Coffin, collaborating over email. ‘I would write some lyrics in an email and Sean would respond with some music, which I would then respond to and so on, back and forth. It was great, to be able to workshop something on your own without pressure but also collaborating as part of the process.

Josh hopes that the project will be recorded by the end of this year or in January, and will be followed by a national tour.

‘The project is a way of saying thank you to these composers. This is beautiful music to start with and I feel privileged to have their permission to interpret the songs.’


Josh Kyle website

Sam Keevers website


Wangaratta Festival of Jazz
Sunday November 3rd at 1:30 pm

Holy Trinity Cathedral