Keeno Interview

It’s fair to say that Keeno has been enjoying the ride for the past seven months since signing to Med School – he’s bootlegged Coldplay, played various gigs around the UK and Europe, released the Nocturne EP, and now he’s brought out a 14-track album, Life Cycle.

We managed to secure some quality time with Will – he’s finally had some time to take a breather – to talk about the album, which has been getting wide-ranging support and has attracted a new wave of fans. Here is what he had to tell us…

The last time we interviewed you – which was not too long ago – you’d just released an EP with Med School having recently been signed to the label; now you’ve just released an album, ‘Life Cycle’. Are you sure you can maintain this momentum?

Haha – I hope so, because it’s really exciting! I don’t really want to stop because I’m worried I’ll never get going again. It’s been a mad seven-or-so months and things are only getting more interesting by the hour at the moment. I’m just really looking forward to seeing where I stand in another seven months!

You strike me as a perfectionist and an album is a defining moment in an artist’s career. How did you decide it was the right time to bring it out? ‘Life Cycle’ – what’s the story behind the name?

Well, the decision to write an album wasn’t really mine as I was offered the chance by Tony Coleman (aka London Elektricity) and the Med School team around the same time as the release of my “Nocturne EP” back in December. It was a chance you’d be silly to turn down so without really thinking about the consequences, I got stuck in and just waited to see what I’d come up with!

In regards to the title: the original concept was to try and portray someone’s journey through life but, with only six months to complete the album, I didn’t really have time to bring that to fruition properly. However, the Hospital and Med School team liked the title anyway and now the LP is finished, I think the title works really well and binds the album together nicely.

It’s not often we hear your own vocals in your music, yet there are a few tracks on the album where you flex your vocal chords. How come it’s taken so long for us to hear them?

When I first started producing four or five years ago, I used my voice quite a lot. But, I started focusing on the actual production side of things for a few years and it’s only now I feel comfortable to record my own voice and put it back on my tunes.

And, of all the times to use it, I think a debut album is the most suitable. I really want to continue using my voice more so I’m buying a new microphone and some soundproofing in order to explore more and more possibilities.

The response the album has received has been huge across social media platforms, and it’s charted high in the iTunes Dance album chart. What are the best reactions you’ve had off the back of the album release?

I think one of the highlights for me was in the feedback I had from Dillinja who simply said “love Moonrise” and hearing from Subfocus that he’s been supporting “Innocence”. But above all that, I think Crissy Criss picking the LP up and putting it in his DNB Top 5 shocked me a little – having support from people who educated me in the genre all those years ago is quite a humbling experience.

Finally, the genuine support from my family and friends has been wonderful – it means a lot to hear such encouragement from people who don’t regularly listen to drum & bass and to hear that they love it!

One of my personal favourites off the album is ‘A Wheel Within A Wheel’ – the shortest track on the album, and yet so captivating. It appears on the album as an interlude just before the sub-bass and Amen break-driven ‘Break The Silence’. Was that strategically arranged to act as a ‘calm before the storm’?

The tracklisting was a collaborative effort from everyone over at Med School and I think the contrast between the atmospherics and the Amens work really well! It’s interesting to see how tracks take on a different character when you put them next to one another.

I love hearing the piano versions of your tracks you’ve been uploading. Do a lot of your track ideas stem from you jamming on the piano?

Most of my ideas start at my ancient, flat, well-loved piano. It’s a place where I feel very comfortable so it allows my mind to wander and come up with lots of ideas – mostly bad, but sometimes good!

You make the type of music that could be reproduced live. What are the chances of you pulling together a group of people to create a distinctive live performance by the next album?

Pretty high I think! I’m surrounded by ridiculously talented instrumentalists at university up in Manchester plus loads of the Med School artists dabble in live instruments so it’d be cool to get them involved if I could.

I’m currently working on arranging the entirety of “Life Cycle” for orchestra with the aim of performing and recording it live some day. I’m not sure if it’ll actually happen logistically, but it’s a cool idea nonetheless.

You told us in the last interview that 2014 was going to be a big year, and you weren’t kidding. So what’s next?

At this rate, I have no idea what’s coming around the corner next week, let alone next year! I need to keep focussed on what matters: the music, and let everything else just happen around me. At the end of the day, I need to keep writing as many tunes as I can so I’m taking a bit of a break this summer for that exact reason.

But, the autumn brings a lot of gigs for me all around Europe and once the LP hype has blown over, I’d better start thinking about what my next release will be! It’ll be a cool year though, and I’m looking forward to having another chat with you guys then – when the time comes!