by Lara Jade
1. Where did you grow up?
Keionn: “Well, I’m from Toledo Ohio. not too far from here. It’s a… really cool city. We have a habit of striving for greatness and that is something that you can really see when it comes to this mixtape. I hope I can make them proud.”
2. What is your major and why did you come to Tiffin University?
Keionn: “My major is Arts Administration with a concentration in Music Industry. I chose Tiffin mainly because I came here seeking track. I’m a track athlete. They recruited me and that’s how I came here.”
3. Is your family musical?
Keionn: “No. No, my family loves music but they don’t have any experience in it. They’re more working people, you know, blue collar, every day.”
4. What is the first song you remember learning?
Keionn: “First song I ever learned on an instrument was Mary Had a Little Lamb on this really janky keyboard that I found in the basement one day. “
5. Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Keionn: “I look up to a lot. I think music is something that is so expansive and so in depth that you can’t just have one inspiration, one source of sound, and one sort of color. There’s so much that goes into the music and I take a lot of my inspiration from a lot of older music, a lot of older R&B, and soul groups like The Chi-Lites or The Manhattans, The Jackson 5. My biggest idol growing up was Michael Jackson and is Michael Jackson. I always saw myself being on stage and performing in front of thousands of people and you know sharing my artwork and giving life to it. The thoughts and the melodies that are in my head. I would say entertainers, people who allow people to share a moment with them and get away from whatever is going on in their day to day lives. It’s just them and the music. That’s one thing I think Prince and Jimmy Hendrix, even James Brown do so well. And one thing I want to be is an entertainer, somebody who gravitates towards people and inspires people”
6. What are your fondest musical memories?
Keionn: “My fondest music memories are probably so far… my first experience performing about a year ago, and a few months ago. I performed at an open mic here, one of my songs, and from that moment on I knew it was a start of something. It was my call to arms. That assurance to myself was something that led me to know this was for me. This was where I belong and every moment after that, every opportunity to perform has made it a worthwhile moment and it gets better every time. Every time I get more and more excited and more and more in tune with the audience and the music and I can’t wait to see where this goes. How far it goes, and I think my best memories are still in front of me and it’s exciting. I’m hoping with the project I’m working on now, it can be something that really propels me into the performance platform, and traveling. Really honing my craft as an entertainer.”
7. When did you begin writing your own music?
Keionn: “I started writing my own music… really it started as poetry. I’ve always, as far as I can remember, always been writing poetry. It started to force its way into more rhythmic and more story driven sounds. The writing for me was always there and the music sort of came later.”
8. What do you find yourself writing about most? What inspires you?
Keionn: “Change. Dreaming. Very, very broad stuff, but I found myself writing about making a different life for the people around me. Finding where I belong. Finding that love, you know… I started writing stories. Where I want my life to be and where I want people around me to be and just… The struggles and the every day. The demons we all face, and so it’s a mix of the good and the bad. I find myself writing about any and everything that comes to my mind.”
9. Have you found your writing style has changed at all?
Keionn: “Well personally, I don’t think I have done it enough yet to have my own style. I think it’s sort of shaping itself and the more I get into this, the more I’ll find that sound and where it fits me. I’ve only been a music major for a year, so this past year alone has changed so much. And the more experience I have, the more… opportunities I have to create and to be an artist. The more the sound changes and moves. And just how painters have different periods where their art form changes, I feel that is going to be something that is very evident when you look at my work.”
10. How often do you perform in public?
Keionn: “I try to perform when I know I am prepared. When I know it’s an opportunity that I can show my best self at the current time. And so, I haven’t had many public performances outside of Tiffin University Band and going to the band shows and performing at half times. Right now, and where I am at with my growth as an artist, that stuff is more than fulfilling right now. And I know once I do find that image and find that sound and find where I am comfortable, that is when I am going to want to perform as much as possible.”
11. How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
Keionn: “It’s never easy on yourself when you know you made a mistake. I think, you know… I kick myself a lot when I make a mistake, but never during a performance. No matter what I do, the show must go on. I still have a job to entertain these people even if I make a mistake. I have made a mistake, I make mistakes all the time. I do well not showing those mistakes. I make them a part of the routine, I make them more comfortable with me doing things. I think that is a skill I do excel at, taking my mistakes and turning them into something that works. Do I want to make a habit of making mistakes? No, I don’t, but it just takes a lot out of you if you harp on a mistake. It brings down the overall performance and if the people in the crowd know you made a mistake, that is not something you want them to leave with. You want them to feel like you know what you’re doing. Feel like you put in the work to entertain them.”
12. Do you get nervous before a performance? Any advice to those who are?
Keionn: “I am… I am super nervous before a performance. I get jittery, I can’t stop moving, but the moment the lights are on is the most exciting thing in the world for me. It’s something that I feel more comfortable performing in the act of performing than I do when I’m at home sometimes. Being in front of people and expressing my art is the most amazing thing to me and I find my comfort in that connection and in that ability express myself and express the different emotions and different experiences I have been through. And so, I’m super nervous, it is scary. I’m scared out of my mind, but that excites me when the lights are on. It pushes me to tackle and fight those fears and the very act of doing that makes me feel like this is where I belong, and this is what I am supposed to do. I feel like I’ve always been a quiet and reserved guy, not one to stand out. But when that time comes, I know I have to grab it. I know I have to get ahold of it. And so, I’ll never back down from where I know I am supposed to be.”
13. How often and for how long do you practice?
Keionn: “I practice pretty much every day, and that comes in the form of… walking around from here to there with nothing but different rhymes and different songs I have written. I don’t stop rhyming. I don’t stop writing. It’s a twenty-four-seven thing. When it comes practicing before performances and stuff like that, that’s a different story. That is when I have scheduled time out of my day to really- Ok, what type of movements am I going to make? This is a sad song, so I shouldn’t be smiling… Little things. And those are things I work on every week and I sit down and try to hash out… Okay what can I improve on? What can I do to make myself seem more like a professional?”
14. How do you balance your music with other obligations?
Keionn: “Balancing the music is one of my toughest responsibilities. A lot of it is realizing certain things are more important than others. This is my life, this is my career, this is my profession. This is what at the end of the day is going to be what people are going to remember me by. And if I cannot dedicate the time and the effort to it that I should be, then I won’t go very far. What I have come to and what I have learned form working on this project is that, a lot of what I was doing. I have more than enough time to come back to those things. I have more than enough time to find a way to have some type of involvement in those things. What I am here for is the music, what I am here for is the art. What I am here for is the connections and the growth. And so, I can’t… I can’t sit here and say I’m involved in all these things and say that I am also giving 100% to the music. And so, a lot of tough decisions have been made lately, and right now I am just solely focusing on just the music and those other things will have their time, their moments and right now I feel like I am working on something special and so I can’t let it go. I have to keep working, keep striving and honing my craft. It’s a tough balance but you have to figure out what’s worth it and what can be obtained at a later date.”
15. What can we expect from this album?
Keionn: “A story. Until We Meet Again is very different in the fact that it’s… it’s a story that I never thought I would be writing. It’s an adventure and it displays a message that I think is very central to a lot of people and a lot of people’s experiences. When it comes to Until We Meet Again, there’s a few things I would really love people to take away from it. One, is that I have been working very hard this year. I have grown a lot musically in this year. Two, that have a lot of skill sets. I have a lot of things I can do in every part of the creation process. From the writing to the beat making to the engineering to the actual performance of the raps. Next, I just want people to have fun. Really enjoy it, take something away from at least one of the songs. I hope there is at least one thing I can leave you with or one line or one bar that really pops back into your head at random in a few years from now. That’s my goal is to take that first step and having you look at Keionn the artist. You know… when you are feeling in a certain way and you remember one of my songs, or a line from one of my songs that… that right there is rewarding for me, more than enough. And I am just looking forward to showing each and everybody that has supported me and who has been a part of this project that big things can come from small places and Until We Meet Again is a very wild and kooky story, but it’s a story that I would hope everyone would find amazing to experience.”
16. Do you have any collaborations on this work?
Keionn: “Yes. I have a number of collaborations on this album. The tape is fairly long. Fairly longer than what I had expected it to be. There’s a lot of talent on it. I don’t want to disclose all of that right now, I’m gonna wait until we release the track list and you all get an experience for who these artists are. And I am really thankful for all of them because having that talent on here has just pushed this from here to here. It’s taken the entire tape to another level and I am so thankful for it. I cannot be more happy. I am more excited to have these people on this tape than anything and whatever capacity they serve… the collaboration aspect of it, the ability that creating something with someone else… that’s something we did and no one can ever take that away from us. I am super excited for that. I am super excited for the great group of people that helped made this what it is.”
17. Where is your dream venue to perform?
Keionn: “One day I would love to perform… There are so many places I would love to perform… I would love to perform at Madison Square Garden. I would love to perform at the halftime show- the Super Bowl one day. I hope that is something that is a moment for me that just details all the hard work and all the hours, and all the different… emotions that went into making Keionn and I hope that’s a moment I can share with the world.”
18. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Keionn: “In five years, I see myself, probably with two professional studio albums done and on tour. And hopefully selling out the Staples Center one day. That’s where I see myself in the next five years. At the real start of my career. Really starting to see where the music is taking me, and I don’t see myself as the very best yet, but it’s gonna be that journey. It’s gonna be apart of that path. I wanna let people know that I will be the greatest one day. I don’t ever wanna do anything to be second best.”
19. What advice do you have for musicians starting out?
Keionn: “I say don’t be afraid. It gets scary. It gets overwhelming. But don’t be afraid because at the end of the day you’re doing something amazing. You’re doing something that people have been honing and crafting for centuries and it’s a huge part of who we are. And the fact that you want to be a part of that is special. And never doubt how special you are and where you are gonna be because… You give it your all, you give it a hundred and ten percent, no one can take that away from you. No one can take that passion away from you.”
Keionn’s Album titled Until We Meet Again is set to release December 8th, 2018!