One of the first music artists to join us when we launched out audio channel last year, Edward Keys has come a long way to where we are now.
Originally born and raised in Bordeaux, France, Edward studied earn his PhD Physical Chemistry in France and got his post-docorate in Solid State Chemistry in Hiroshima, Japan.
During this time, he continued his hobby of music by finding people to play with wherever he was. He held concerts in Japan with a friend to great response with the Japanese people.
Returning to Europe about 12 years ago, Edward found a job the Netherlands and, being a fervent ecologist, worked as a research chemist for pollution-reducing solutions for the industrial sector.
In mid-2013, Edward finally decided to make the huge leap into being a full-time professional musician. Since then, Edward has had a few setbacks, but they all worked out well for him to have a couple of successful enterprises under his belt.
We sat down with Edward to find out about his journey and what actually makes him tick.
Edward: I was researching a specific area for a technical solution that would allow the industry to pollute less, or even not pollute at all. Well, after years of research, I found one, an amazing one. When I presented it, I was applauded for it, and it certainly reinforced my influence in the company. However, there was a huge resistance by management for its implementation. Changing a well-established technology, even if it was polluting the environment, is a large investment in itself. The new technology was equal to or 10-20% more expensive. Therefore, where are the profits in this?
I was disgusted by that reasoning, and lost confidence that being an actor in the corporate world was a way I could contribute positively to the world.
Then I thought “Wait a minute, there is another way I can contribute… Music.”
I had been playing and composing for more than 20 years. I have only one life, and needed to give it a new meaning. Call it my middle-life crisis, haha! So Suddenly, in June 2013, I quit, and started to search what I could do to earn a living with music.
ME: So when and how did you start of selling stock?
Edward: I found Music Library Report, a website create by composer Art Munson that introduced me to that side of the music business. It was a revelation! After reworking my tracks to fit the business model (creating edits, rearranging, re-mixing / re-mastering for broadcast quality etc.), I uploaded my first files in October 2013.
ME: Where and how did you get started in music in the first place? Did you go to music school, or was it self-taught?
Edward: My father was a music lover, pulling me out of bed at 9AM on Sunday mornings, by playing Pink Floyd albums full blast all over the house! However he never played an instrument. My first instrument, a spanish guitar, was given to me by his father, my grandfather, when I was 15. He used to be the conductor of the orchestra of St Jean de Luz, in the Pays Basque where my Father’s family roots are located.
Very curious about the instrument, I learned to play it by myself. The funny thing is that it was tuned wrong, so I was doing excruciating positions to get the simplest sounding good chords. A year later, when a guitarist showed me that my guitar was tuned wrong, all chords felt so easy to play after that! That initiated a huge creative boom!
I was ready technically to enter my first pop-band at 16-17. We started touring when I was 18. It stayed a hobby until recently. I played and toured in various formations, going from large jazz-rock bands to bass-guitar–drum hard core metal trios, passing through pop bands, blues-rock bands, singer songwriter duets, folk bands etc. My main instrument is e-bass, but I was sometimes guitarist, cajomist and back vocals.
ME: Tell us about the toughest challenges you faced when you made that jump from research chemist to musician.
Well, the few first months have been quite a challenge. These were used to reflect on what I could do. A successful DJ I knew advised me to try to be an Electro-Trance DJ, as he enjoyed the tracks I produced in that style. He introduced me to that world. I explored this direction but realized it was not what I wanted. I am creator, not an entertainer.
Then one day, I discovered a community of music producers that create library music. There, It seriously clicked! In September 2013 I uploaded my first track. Got my first licence sale in November, and in December set up a music production company (Synaptic Machines). Since, licence sales have grown exponentially.
The return on investment in musical activities can show up years after, I don’t think my landlord would appreciate if I asked him if I can pay the rent in a few years haha! So, on the side, I started an activity as a “high end” tutor in Physics to support international high school and early university students in Physics. That activity has blossomed so well into a successful enterprise. (Check out http://www.physics-tutor.nl/)
So now I am all set and happy, following the two goals I set for my life: Making the world a better place via the help I provide to my students, and bringing pleasure to others by composing great music!
ME: What are you working on now?
Edward: I have a few things going on at the same time. I’m currently upgrading the studio in order to allow syncing, improve music customization and broaden my musical range by opening my system, to VST plug-ins.
A new batch of production music, rock, pop, electro and Lounge, is currently cooking. And I’m revisiting nursery rhymes by including some arrangement influenced by great composers (Ravel, Chopin etc.) The aim is to let kids explore musicality based on a familiar tunes.
(Check Freres Jacques one of the first tracks of this album: https://www.motionelements.com/stock-music-5974365-frere-jacques)
ME: Well, you’ve been busy. What’s the most enjoyable thing about what you do?
Edward: Seeing how video creators use my music. I am amazed by the creativity and efforts some put in their production, and therefore I feel very proud when my music is associated with their work.
Of course, producing original and successful music, a way to leave a trace of my creative spirit in the pool of humanities arts.
ME: What tickles your creative bone? Who/What is your biggest muse?
Edward: My inspirations are various, and find their roots in many genres, to name a few: Ravel, Timbaland, Pink Floyd, Rihanna, Infested Mushrooms, Hallucinogen, Transatlantic sessions, Bach, Daft Punk, etc…
When music I hear wakes up an emotion in me, would it be melancholy, happiness or excitement, I feel the need to rush into the studio and create an original piece that stirs me up with the same intensity. That works especially for club, electro and world music, but sometimes also for more traditional genres.
Yet, I unfortunately have to moderate that impulse: if the music takes too much place compared to a visual content, it will not get picked for projects, even if it is a great piece. Hence, I have to share: 30% of composing in the studio time is for pure creativity, 70% is aimed at production music, sometimes a little dull, but fitting well video content.
ME: Do you have a favourite piece you made? If so, what is it and why is it your favourite?
The tracks I prefer are naturally those that were created, as mentioned above, under the impulsion of a strong creative urge! These are not necessarily those that sell best, but those that I like most:
Electro-World: “Electro Tabla” aka “Voyage”. I was coming back from a trip in India, my head full of tabla beats. In the plane, I was reading “Les fleurs du mal” from Charles Baudelaire and had the idea to blend both arts. The result is this track, that became the title of my first album as a recording artist (released in August 2013)
Neo Classical: The Dark Waltz
A blend of gipsy guitar and classical instruments. Performed with real instruments (except the strings)
Ambient-Pop: Dramatic Lights
Electro / Club: Pump It
The weird one: It has received the strongest positive feedback by editors and critics, but never sold!
The new “Synaptic Machines” electro album to be released in 2015.