In 2016, Keeley caught an episode of the UK TV series Crimewatch from 2005 and was immediately transfixed by the story of an 18-year-old German tourist, Inga Maria Hauser, who was murdered in Northern Ireland in 1988. Still unsolved as of 2021, the case provided the base for Keeley’s long-running work with Hauser’s legal representation, Northern Irish police, and politicians to help solve the case. Hauser’s story is also the core of Keeley’s music, including “Never Here Always There,” one of four musical vignettes off the Irish singer-songwriter’s upcoming EP Brave Warrior, out June 18.
“Inga is the subject of everything I write,” says Keeley. “From the moment I first read about her exactly five years ago now, her cause became a burning obsession for me. Since that day, I haven’t written a song about anyone or anything else. I consider myself a concept artist and my purpose is to give Inga a voice.”
Keeley adds, “It is both the saddest and the scariest story I have ever known.”
An 18-year-old grammar school student, artist, and musician, the Munich-born Hauser was on a sightseeing trip to the UK and Ireland, her first trip without her parents, when she disappeared. Barely setting foot on the island, Hauser became the subject of a still unsolved crime, more than 33 years later. Her case, recorded as a sexually motivated murder, remains the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland and something Keeley has also documented, along with more on Inga’s life and what happened to her in the days leading up to her murder, in her blog “The Keeley Chronicles,” for the past five years.
Along with the blog, Keeley has continued to campaign publicly on Hauser’s behalf through music. Arranged around a mesmerizing movement of drifting guitars and fuzzy vocals, “Never Here Always There” offers a still-pixelated glimpse into the mysterious end of a beautiful life.
Produced and engineered by Alan Maguire, who also mixed the four tracks with Keeley—keyboardist Marty Canavan, bassist Martin Fagan and drummer Pete Duff—and mastered by Anthony Chapman (Franz Ferdinand, DEVO, Cathal Coughlan), the four-track Brave Warrior, off Dimple Discs, the label founded in 2018 by The Undertones’ Damian O’Neill and Brian O’Neill, is the excavation of truth, an unsolved mystery focused on Hauser, from lead track “The Glitter and the Glue,” “Last Words,” and closing “You Never Made It That Far.”
“Brave Warrior consists of four songs, all of which are about Inga in one way or another,” says Keeley. “Incidentally, this is something completely unprecedented in music. There has never been an album of songs written about a murder victim, let alone an entire body of work. I have resolved to never write about any other subject, reflecting my belief that this is the most important subject ever.”
Keeley also offers a visual glimpse into the life of Hauser in the video for the track, featuring excerpts from the original Crimewatch recreation of Hauser’s disappearance in 1988. In one segment, the girl portraying Hauser is seen looking up at the sky while on the Galloway Princess ferry, a moment that captivated Keeley and spawned the dreamier pop track.
“There was something about the expression on the face of the girl, who bore a striking resemblance to Inga in her younger years, that I found incredibly compelling,” says Keeley. “There was such a degree of hope, of wonder, of idealism, of innocence, and of courage in her eyes as she looked up at the night sky as the boat was about to dock. I felt her portrayal captured Inga’s essence so accurately that she could almost have been Inga herself.”
Continuing to write around Hauser’s story, Keeley is recording the remainder of a larger concept album about the young woman’s life and the case at Darklands Audio in Dublin. “Never Here Always There” is a piece of the bigger story, one Keeley hopes will one day have closure.
“The lyrics of the song set the scene of Inga’s arrival in Northern Ireland on that fateful spring night in 1988,” says Keeley, “and describe what she would have seen, and as much as I have been able to ascertain, what she may have been thinking in those precious long-lost missing moments, the last moments of her life when she was still safe, moments where she was standing alone, alive and aligned with the night sky, with the scent of sea air in her hair… never here, always there.”