M&J Introducing: Keytar Carlos

Posted 26 October 2015 in M&J Introducing (comments)

For the latest edition of our M&J Introducing series, we chatted to Carlos Thomas from Manchester, who caught our eye with his unique keytar-playing skills! We discovered that Carlos has had some amazing (and hilarious) performing experiences, and has a fascinating approach to making music. Read on to find out more...

Favourite Meat:

Before I went vegan, I'd say bacon. It smells so good and brings back wonderful memories of cooking on open fires in the woods... Now I'll probably say vegan bacon.

Favourite Jam:

Blueberry - an excellent combination with peanut butter!

Interesting fact about you:

We covered "Ni**as in Paris" in my cadets marching band. We were never very good...

Realisation Song:

Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". My dad must've put it on during some long car journey on one of those family holidays I never remember much about. But the guitar work is beautiful, and the piece as a whole is brilliantly crafted. It really stuck with me.

Best performing experience:

When I was 16 I gave a ukulele concert on a mountain pass in Northern India, while on a school trip! I played a song called "The Homework Song", and it went down a storm with my mates, even though some of the teachers might not have approved.

Worst performing experience:

I attempted a one man band at a talent show, with keytar, bass drum on back, hi-hat on the side and my harmonica. Part way through the performance the kick got caught on my bass drum pedal so it stopped working, the mic turned off and the hi-hat nearly fell over! I think I got points for looking ridiculous though...

Ideal band:

Guitarist Omar Rodríguez-López (The Mars Volta), bassist Les Claypool (Primus), drummer Zach Hill (Death Grips), fronted by the incredible Devin Townsend. It would be a good night!

What made you pick up the keytar? It's not an instrument you see much these days!

Very true! They were more popular in the '80s, but Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater keyboard wizard) plays keytar and I thought it looked pretty cool, so when I was thinking of buying a synthesiser I got a keytar instead! The idea is that it gives the keyboardist a bit more stage presence.

You've got some very interesting stuff on your Soundcloud page. How long have you been writing/arranging your own material? What's your process like for that, considering how many instruments you use? 

Haha thanks!! I started composing when I was 13, using TuxGuitar (essentially GuitarPro, but free) and those first pieces were woeful. Eventually I got better, but I didn't start writing lyrics/recording until I was 16, and again that took a little while to crack!

I use REAPER and a Line 6 POD Studio GX, and having worked out a basic structure for a piece I'll record each instrument individually, normally building it up from guitar, adding in bass/keyboards and then vocals and harp/sax. Since I've only got one good microphone I can't record a whole drum kit at once, and can't properly record snare/hi-hat, so I try and make do with bongos, toms, occasional cymbals or just clicking my fingers. These limitations means it's more along the lines of singer-songwriter folky stuff as opposed to crazy off-the-wall metal, but I just try and work with the cheap setup that I have - often limitations mean you have to be more creative! Then after putting it all together it's just a case of engineering the right sound (using many free VSTs!), mixing and then when I'm happy with it (or just sick of working on it) I'll call it finished! It takes a while, and is often really frustrating, but it's so satisfying when the job is done!

 

Get in touch with Carlos through his Meet & Jam profile here.

And if you'd like to be a featured artist in our M&J Introducing series, please get in touch by emailing us at ben.taylor@meetandjam.com

Benjamin Taylor

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