Well, readers, your humble blogger-in-chief is back with another interview. On May 22, 2017, I was privileged to speak with Musician/Music producer Keelan Jones. Keelan is one of the few people I have spoken to whose craft has taken far from the boundaries of Lake County, Illinois.
Born and raised in the Waukegan, Illinois area, Keelan is familiar with the ins and outs of art as a business as well as a craft. If I took anything away from today’s experience, it was that hard work and professionalism is always what it takes to quicken dreams into reality.
JNHarris: Keelan, tell the Urban Word readers about yourself.
K.Jones: Well, my name is Keelan Jones and I was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois area. And pretty much my life consists of music and all things music, live productions and studio productions. I do a lot of production work in the studio. I play bass guitar and drums. I have a couple of different bands of my own that I work with; they are both professional bands but one I do my own personal recording projects with. That’s BackBeatProductionz with a ‘z’. The other one is Urban Soul which is more of a local band that we can utilize around the community for a lot of different functions and different events.
JNHarris: How has music effected your life?
K.Jones: Music has been a part of my life since day one. My grandma played guitar and she sung. My granddad played guitar and he sung. My moms is a singer, my brother is a keyboard player, my sister writes poems and lyrics, my dad played a little keyboard and all my uncles played either keyboard or guitar. You know, it’s in my DNA; I can’t deny it. It’s not just a part of my life, but it’s more so who I am and what I was created to do. It’s just been a positive ingredient in the grand scheme of my life. Even in my early years, getting into trouble, trying to find my way through my life, it still been that one thing that kept me focused on the future and focused on the possibilities of what I can do when I fully apply myself to music.
Since then, it has taken me around the world and made me a lot of money. I got to meet a lot of interesting people, famous and non-famous. It took me to different places: Europe, Mongolia, Mexico, Puerto Rico,– a lot of different places.
JNHarris: In 2014, you made an album called FlipSide the Mentality. Tell us how much work went into that album.
K.Jones: Man, uh, a lot of work. Just going back to the cause and the origin of that CD: In 2010, I was involved in a car accident and it caused me to have a herniated disc which caused me to lose power and strength in my left hand and some other challenges with my neck and my back and I came to a point where I thought that music was done for me as far as the physical playing of it. So, I quickly got over that and that year I enrolled myself into Columbia College (Chicago) as a full time student at the age of twenty-nine. And I kind of took that on as a way to get mentally back into the motion of things and kind of give me a boost. You know, cause we all hit those hurdles in life that kind of discourage you, but Columbia College and a few other things I took on that year was key to the FlipSide album. So, FlipSide, four years later in 2014, was a result of all I went through in life and in particularly in 2010 leading up to 2014, it was a lot of work. On top of working in school as a full time student and just pressing through school and pressing through life, pressing through the things that I wanted to happen. I always wanted to do my own CD with my own music. It was a process I should say. A costly process, a timely process, but definitely worth it.
JNHarris: If time and distance were not a factor, name an artist you wouldn’t hesitate to do a collaboration with again.
K.Jones: That’s a good question. Some artists that I’ve played with that I definitely wouldn’t mind playing with again would be MC Hammer. I had a chance to play with him and do some traveling with him. He is on the Christian scene more so now, but just hearing his story and his downfalls and what he’s learned has taught me a lot and kind of give me a heads up on things to keep away from and a better way to route my success. So, he would definitely be one I would want to play with again just for experience and what he offered as far as being a musician.
I would definitely say there is a guy from Europe, he’s in the states now, lives in Tennessee, named Jamie Ladell–a popular European artist. I had a chance to work with him in New York, I’d definitely love to do some work with him again.
A lot of local artist too. I love the local artist because they come without all the extra ness and the diva attitudes.
JNHarris: Some of us do have diva attitudes, though.
KJones: Oh my God, it’s to the point where a lot of these artist that I play with it is literally like work. I go and do my job, and I go home. there is no relationship. No connection outside of work.
But, as far as artist that I haven’t worked with before: Bruno Mars, as far as some Jazz stuff, um- Chicoria and the Electric Band.
Some of the greats like Stevie Wonder, and if Michael Jackson was still alive, I would have loved to work with Michael Jackson. One of my all time favorite icons.
JNHarris: Musically, what is next for you?
KJones: What’s next for me is–
I started BackBeatProductionz which is not just a label but it is a company. We produce a lot of local artists and of course we do my productions for my CD. So I’m working on my second CD for my sophomore album. And that’s in the making right now, I was actually supposed to start recording last week, but my baby boy was born three months early. So, he kind of altered my plans but it’s all good. So we are going to get back to it in like maybe a week or two and start recording these songs. But, that’s definitely in the making for this year, to do a new album with me and to produce some new albums with local artists.
Well, readers it was refreshing to talk with a multi-talented man like Keelan Jones. I got a lot of the conversation. I think it is important to take what you do seriously and not be hard on yourself. The hard knocks of life will come, but those blows, those knocks are what seasons you and helps hone your craft.
In the end, life and art is what you make of it.
Check out Sunday Stroll (featuring Keelan Jones on the drums) from FlipSide the Mentality or click the link to purchase the album on ITunes.