For the latest in our Spotlight series we welcome Keeno, an artist whose classical training meets contemporary electronica with considerable aplomb. The Med School-signed producer’s debut album Life Cycle hit stores this week and features long-time collaborator Whiney and London-based Azedia, plus vocalists Pat Fulgoni, Louisa Bass and Zoë Klinck.
Greetings Keeno, how’s life treating you right about now? Your album launch party looked like a lot of fun..
Life’s pretty darn good I must say – it’s been a very surreal few weeks. The launch party was perfect and the afterparty was madness. It was such an amazing day so thank you to all those who came and had a good old fashioned knees up with me – it’s a memory that I’ll cherish forever.
Your aforementioned debut album Life Cycle is about to land on Med School – talk us through your affiliation with the label, and the album process from conception through to release.
Well, I’m now exclusively signed to Med School. The album started taking shape over Christmas 2013. Tony Colman (aka London Elektricity) and the Hospital team sat me down and asked me to write an LP and release it 6 months later. You can imagine I was a little bit scared at this prospect, being only 19 at the time and having had my debut EP released in that month. But, I got my head down and with a lot of help from the team, managed to write an album I am really proud to call my own. Every step of the way I was supported by everyone around me and I have to say that there’s nothing I’d change or do differently – a very painless debut album experience I must say.
Where would you say your early musical influences lie? Would you be able to pinpoint a particular artist, album or even song that has directly affected your approach to music and production?
I’ve been trained as a Classical musician all of my life so it’s the Classical side to things that makes my brain tick over. I can’t remember far back enough to know where that all started but I think my brother had a hand in it – he started playing the piano in the same year as I was born. Coincidence? I think not.
In regards to drum and bass, it was the music of High Contrast and Hospital Records in 2009-10 that really got me into the genre. The music was so new to me and so exhilarating my brain exploded with new ideas and inspiration – I struggled to keep up at first!
Musical composition is clearly a huge component of your work. Is this something you had been interested in before you began producing electronically? How does the combination of the two work on a practical level for instance would you have a particular melody in mind before laying down the drumwork or vice versa?
Before I produced dance music, I had been writing Classical music since I can remember. The combination of the two helps me no end, I have to say, especially with remixes. I never have to think about the musical side of a song so it allows me to focus on the parts I find most difficult – mixdowns and sound design. Normally, the music comes first for me and the beats come later. But on the rare occasion when it’s the other way around – I tend to end up writing tunes like “Break The Silence”.
Would you say this musicality is being overlooked within the realm of Drum & Bass in general in 2014?
In 2014, no. In 2013, yes. 2013 was a year when I heard very little music I was particularly inspired by until Etherwood’s album came out in the Autumn. I think the industry is beginning to realise that the inherent musicality that lies within drum and bass (and other genres) is something that cannot and should not be lost.
What’s next for Keeno, on both a personal and professional level?
Personally, I’m going to get a well-deserved rest and drink my body-weight in tea! Professionally, I’m going to keep pushing my production, my DJing and my musicality and see where it takes me. I’m feeling particularly inspired at the moment, so I think it’s about time I get back in the studio!
And finally, what’s the one Urban Essential you couldn’t live without?
I could never, ever live without my laptop. It has all my music on it, all my photos and all the footage from my GoPro – if I lost this, I think I’d die a little inside. Good thing I’ve backed it up in 5 different places then isn’t it?
Keeno’s debut album Life Cycle is out now on Med School. Grab your copy of the rather lovely picture-disc 12″ via the label’s official store, and the digital via iTunes.