Hit ‘Em With the Keys

Gutta World recently got to know Keize: keyboard player, writer, singer, rapper, mixer, and producer out of Phoenix. Find out how he slowly, but surely is breaking into the music industry and not letting anyone get in his way. I was raised into a family that was all into music: my dad, grandparents, everybody. My dad and his brothers had a band, Third Generation, because they were the third generation of musicians in their family. I’m like the fourth generation getting into music. I was raised around his band. He had bought a keyboard for my sister when I was little and I just took it from her and started watchin’ music videos and play along. Before I knew it, I was playin’ by ear.

PUBLISHED: Tuesday – August 24, 2010

Gutta World recently got to know Keize: keyboard player, writer, singer, rapper, mixer, and producer out of Phoenix. Find out how he slowly, but surely is breaking into the music industry and not letting anyone get in his way.

GW: What are you going to school for?
Keize: Graphic design. I went to school before for audio engineering. I got certified in recording, so I could get my quality good. I always wanted to wear all hats and be well rounded. Now I wanna be in the design process too so I can operate both services, you know, own my own business one day, offer audio and design, and do my own as well, not have to outsource to do it.

GW: Where do you find time to do it all?
Keize: [CHUCKLES] That’s a struggle every day. It’s time management; I’m learning it every day. I still have to do daytimes jobs and I get sessions thrown my way sometimes to help somebody else with their mixes. Like yesterday, I have a remix that has Dorrough and Charlie Boy on it and a couple other local artists. It’s been sittin’ there for like two months and I haven’t been able to finish the song because I been working on other stuff and I’m havin’ to do school work. I just have to force myself to not stay up ‘til like 4 or 5 in the morning.

GW: How long have you been playing the keyboard?
Keize: I was raised into a family that was all into music: my dad, grandparents, everybody. My dad and his brothers had a band, Third Generation, because they were the third generation of musicians in their family. I’m like the fourth generation getting into music. I was raised around his band. He had bought a keyboard for my sister when I was little and I just took it from her and started watchin’ music videos and play along.  Before I knew it, I was playin’ by ear. I kept at it, I can’t read notes or nothin’, but I think I can play up to par for the most part. I could compose and arrange. In Spanish music, they have a lot of complicated keyboard leads and that’s what really made me improve musically I think.

GW: You were in a Tejano band?
Keize: I haven’t been with them for like four or five years. They still do their own thing though. I actually helped them with plugs for design on their CD cover. They won a New Mexico award recently; my dad’s the lead singer of their band, Grupo Eclipse.

GW: You’ve lived in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and now Arizona. Why have you moved around so much?
Keize: When I was little it was because of my dad’s job. For whatever reason, I’ve never gotten out of the Southwest. It’s my home region. I don’t believe a lot of artists from Arizona or different states in the Southwest broke into the industry. I don’t think there’s anybody that’s defined a sound for the Southwest. There’s not a signature sound, when you think of the Southwest, you think cactuses [CHUCKLES]. You don’t think of anything music related. That’s my goal, to make a defining sound that can be recognized for this region. I decided to come to Phoenix, I came to school here for audio. It’s like the fifth biggest city in the nation so I figured there’s a lot of potential to get a fan base going and make a statement, draw some attention to this area. I plan on bein’ out here for a while, unless something comes up that’s real big.

GW: Was it a solo move?
Keize: I been with the same girl for a long time already. She’s been a lotta support for me. She moved out here with me, she’s going to school too. I’m trying to get my sister involved. She’s gonna start going to school for music business. I’ve been throwing ideas at her for what we can do together. She’s all for it, so she’s planning on moving out here soon.

GW: You’re 23, turning 24 in October. Do you feel like you’re getting old?
Keize: I’m used to being the youngest one everywhere, now I’m right in the middle. Everywhere I was, I was the baby of the clique. Now, I’m getting more experience. I just feel like it’s a constant race against time. I try not to get caught up in comparing myself to all these teenagers that are getting signed, ‘cause some people catch breaks, some don’t. People make their ways into the industry in different avenues. I’m tryin’ to hold me lane and do what I can. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot at my age. I try not to measure my success with someone else’s. That’ll always get you negative energy. I try to stay on the positive side. I feel like I’m on a good pace right now.

GW: Describe a time when you’ve stood in your own way?
Keize: A couple years ago, I moved out to Nashville and I was working for a studio. I had a production deal that went bad and a lot of things were going wrong. I totaled my Tahoe off the interstate and everything went wrong at the same time. It’s real easy to just wanna give up sometimes. You’re tryin’ so hard and you blow your last savings tryin’ to get somewhere. Sometimes all those negative things will put a new light in front of your face. I had to regroup, go back to my hometown, Clovis, New Mexico, a real small town, really negative energy there. That’s where I lived the majority of my life, eleven years. It’s where the Texas panhandle is, right in the middle on the state line. You know Hank Baskett, football player for the Eagles? He’s from that town. That’s probably the only recognition that town’s ever got. There’s not much opportunity there. I just tried to save up for a couple months and get outta there as soon as possible. You’ll just get down real quick and that’s how I feel like I can stop myself. I let all that get to me and you lose motivation. Once you lose the motivation, it’s all your drive right there.

GW: You have two mixtapes out, On Deck and On Deck 2. When did they drop?
Keize: The first one was out a couple years ago. In between that I dropped a three song single that had Sean Kinston and Plies on it, two major names, I felt like I had to put it out right away. At that time I was lacking how to distribute. I feel like I went about things in the wrong way when I was younger. Now, I have this On Deck II project and it’s my first complete solo project.  I’ve done duo projects but I haven’t really promoted myself. I feel like I’m gonna be able to promote this in the right way. I’m setting up different distribution routes. I’m gonna make sure everything’s right this time before I just put it out. Right now I’m pushin’ that “Main Girl” song. I’m givin’ that out for free and gonna push that as hard as I can until everybody’s annoyed by that song, then follow up with another one until I feel like I have a good buzz in this area. I want it to have some anticipation.

GW: Who’re your musical inspirations?
Keize: I was real into R&B. My dad used to play that ‘80s R&B. He would play New Edition, stuff like that. That’s what I listened to all the time as a kid. When 2Pac and all those artists got real big, I was like 11. I started getting all into hip-hop. That was around the time I picked up the keyboard. You know, 2Pac was a big influence on everybody. I’d say the people that influenced me the most as far as the way they came up and their style, would be Chamillionaire or B.O.B. In R&B, it would be Jagged Edge. I actually got a video shout out from them, that was real cool.

GW: You also got a shout out from B.O.B. on your mixtape. Do you chill with a lot of big name artists?
Keize: Not really. For some reason, I’ve been good at finding ways to infiltrate, whether it’s some editor or A&R I’ve gotten in contact with.  I’ve been able to get at certain industry artists in one way or another. I just go about it in random ways like what’s the next thing I can do to get my music in this person’s hands. It’s always worth a shot.

GW: You have a song called “Choosy,” featuring OTS, that sounds kind of hyphy. Have you ever been to Cali or the Bay?
Keize: No, but as soon as I came out here I could just see the Bay influence in this whole area.  I performed at a club and did a straight up South song called, “Chill Out.” People kinda vibed to it, but the next act came up and it was just straight up hyphy sounding and the audience was just going crazy. I was like, “Man, I obviously gotta do a West Coast song over here.” JT the Bigga Figga, he did projects with the Game and Snoop, produced that track. OTS is a group out here, getting recognition. So I got the hyphy beat, got them on it, made it happen. I like the transition, I always try to incorporate melody, so I sing on the song.

GW: How choosy are you when it comes to women?
Keize: I think everybody’s picky at times. As far as the club song goes, it’s all about the attraction from somebody. On a personal level, I’m choosy with the intellect. I like to be challenged, you know?

GW: Describe a time when you turned down a female or was turned down by a female.
Keize: Sometimes I feel like I try too hard to be different. Let’s say, a real fine girl walks into a place and all the dudes will go crazy. I’ll be the one dude to act like she’s not there for the moment. That’ll be the different thing to do rather than be like, “Damn, look at that female!” I just try to do the different thing, if that catches the female’s attention, that’ll do it.

GW: Who’s the number one person you would chill with if you could?
Keize: If it was an athlete, I’d say Deion Sanders. If it was a executive type person, I’d say P. Diddy. If it was a artist, I’d say Chamillionaire. If it had to be a superstar female, Beyonce.

GW: What are your feelings/thoughts on the Arizona Anti-Immigration law?
Keize: From what I know, it was pretty much legal racial profiling. They were gonna be allowed to just look at somebody and say, “Hey, you have to have your papers.” You could be arrested, deported, all that. I guess after all the protesting and everything, the judge actually ruled where they couldn’t force anybody to have papers on ‘em all the time to prove their citizenship. I’m bi-racial but most people just think I’m full-blooded Hispanic. I’m half Mexican, part Spaniard, and part white. I would hate for that to have to happen to me. That would be crazy. I haven’t had any family members that’s been directly affected. I know it’s real heavy out here, a lot of local artists are standing up for it, shooting music videos, protesting it. The whole state had to stand up against it, a lot of unity.

GW: What’s the market like for Latino artists in Phoenix?
Keize: It’s real open, to me. There’s a couple that I’ve noticed that are getting recognition. I feel like my diverse background could break that open. I really wish I could break into the Hispanic market and do more crossover material, the way Baby Bash did, something like that. For whatever reason, the black market, or straight hip-hop, has gotten into me. I actually have a Spanish song, that’s when I noticed how the Hispanic market will really support you if you cater to them too. No mainstream Hispanic artists are doin’ real heavy radio play. It’s kinda easy to lose focus on who your target audience is because you’re tryin’ so hard to have that next commercial song. I think that’s another thing I need to focus on: cater to the Hispanic audience. It’s easy to get caught up in a certain sound that’s successful at the moment that you try to emulate.

GW: Do you want commercial success?
Keize: I would like to but I hear bad things at the same time. All the advice I’ve gotten from when I’ve spoken with A&Rs or management companies, they just tell me it’s better to have a really strong fan base before you even think about a major deal. If you don’t, you won’t have any negotiations, you’ll end up with the wackest deals ever. They say that’s what’s goin’ on now, when people get signed they have no leverage. The label’s all they got.

GW: Does it look like your break is getting closer?
Keize: Sometimes I feel like that because it’ll be a regular day, then like, I’ll get on line and there’ll be like a management or marketing company that randomly gets at me. I’m noticing that people are starting to approach me now rather than me always looking for someone to approach, that’s never happened before. It’s starting to balance out a little more. I don’t know if my music is starting to spread a little more now or if I’m just promoting heavy. It doesn’t hurt to have big names attached to your stuff. When I do that, it puts me on a different level. People don’t always wanna hear somebody’s stuff, they wanna just cast ‘em out. When they hear a big name attached to it, they think you’re doing it real big.

GW: If 2012 doesn’t hit us first, where do you see your career in about five years?
Keize: I would like to be an artist and have my own label, my own distribution. If it doesn’t work out, my plan two is to have a business where it’s a design studio and an audio studio under one roof. So, while I’m working, being an artist, I can also be mixing for other people, designing for other people. In five years hopefully I have an established design/audio studio that’s thriving.

GW: Last words?
Keize: I never block the next person and I wish all people would be like that, in a dream world. I see somebody, even if I’m not a fan of their music, that’s just my opinion, I know somebody else is gonna like it. If I see ‘em doing something positive, I’m all for it. If they send me something to help promote, I’ll post it. I just want other artists to be that way too. I ran into a lot of issues with people in radio, they don’t wanna play my songs when people are requesting, just ‘cause they don’t like me personally. I hate those kinda problems. I want people to be more supportive. If you’re a part of that person’s success, it’s gonna come back to you. Everybody can be successful.  I try to network with different people but it’s a lot of politicking goin’ on. People don’t like to let the next person get recognition unless their involved in it. I’m really outnumbered; I’m just trying to slowly get people involved.

By: Ness

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