Declan McKenna

Declan McKenna teams up with 'Black Mirror's Alex Lawther for 'The Key To Life On Earth' video

McKenna has enlisted the services of his TV doppelgänger for his new single.


Perhaps you've been blissfully unaware until now, but rising music star Declan McKenna and equally rising actor Alex Lawther have more than a passing likeness – and now they're taking full advantage of it in the music video for Declan's latest single 'The Key To Life On Earth'.

The 21-year-old singer-songwriter premiered the track as Radio 1's Hottest Record in the World last night (14 April) with DJ Annie Mac, saying he'd recorded it in Nashville last year for new album Zeros – which has been pushed back to an August release due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking of the track, he said: "I grew up in a very suburban world and I suppose this song is sort of based around areas of suburbia and just the kind of stuff I saw, but in a way that reflects how I feel about how hostile human relationships can be and how humans can be towards each other despite how similar they often are.

"It was just thinking about all those themes and thinking about hostility when generally it all just comes from a place that solvable or resolvable. I was thinking about all those things and wound up with a tune."

In a press release accompanying the video's launch, Declan adds: "The video sees two people, who are very similar, in conflict with each other, and I think that's the simplest analogy for the song's purpose."

In the video, Lawther – who's starred in projects including Black Mirror, The End Of The F***ing World, The Imitation Game and gay coming-of-age drama Departure – becomes increasingly eratic in his behaviour towards Declan, with the power dynamic in their relationship switching completely by the end.

"Alex Lawther is someone I've wanted to work with for a long time," Declan says. "I was trying to get in contact after seeing how much people compared us online.

"After finding I had a mutual friend with one of his family, I was eventually able to get his number and we got talking.

"We hung out at the Extinction Rebellion and I ended up playing him some of my album.

“We eventually pulled together with the video’s director Will Hooper who has helped to put together most of my video projects for this record so far, and with more ridiculous ideas than you could shake a vegan cream tea at; we finally managed to lock in a date to make this video – and just in time as it turns out.”

Declan's second album, Zeros, was due out next month but has been delayed – a decision he told Annie Mac was "frustrating and jarring... but it just had to happen".

He added: "Everyone's making difficut choices at the minute and in the grand scheme of things, I guess it's not too big a deal."

His acclaimed first album, What Do You Think About The Car? was released in 2017 and racked up 230m streams and 200,000 sales.

At the time of its release, he spoke to Attitude about not wanting to label his sexuality, saying, "I'm young. I don't know, I'm seeing. I could put a label on it if you want, but at the minute I'm learning about a lot of things."

He added: "Things are so much better than they were even 10 years ago. People can be like, 'I'm just going to find out'."

His track 'Paracetamol' was inspired after Declan read about Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl from Ohio who killed herself after her conservative Christian parents insisted she identify as male and sent her to a conversion camp for "therapy" before pulling her out of school and cutting her off from friends.

Talking to Attitude, he said: "Its devastating to hear about something like that. It's heartbreaking, it's horrific. I just wanted to say something."