Beats music maker Darren Keen, formerly/aka The Show is the Rainbow, is a one-man-band/DJ, who is known as much for his passion on and off stage as he is for his sound. Keen gained notoriety for his commentary on indie fashion and scene icons such as Conor Oberst and Saddle Creek Records. His song, “Up a Creek Without a Saddle” is a raucous electronica/rap with a lively hook, ‘Everybody says the same thing / What a world, what a world’.
A relentless beats wizard, his sound has evolved and keeps going further. He produces a Chicago-style dance music called Footwork, with tracks like DOOMY
The vibe is part electronica, part hip-hop, part frenetic rock.
In 2009, Keen released Slumberland Party on Saddle Creek. Of that
record Keen says, “The point. Everyone wants everyone to get to the point. I guess that’s what I’m trying to do with my music. I’ve wanted to make a nice album for a long time, but, my other bands are all strikingly un-nice sounding… My name is Darren and I made “Slumberparty Record” in my bedroom all by myself. I’m terrible at the drums so I used a $5 toy keyboard rhythm section. This was really fun to make, and I hope you enjoy listening to it. You’ll never get to heaven if you’re scared of getting high.”
Originally a guitarist, Keen traveled nearly constantly as a solo artist, and plans a move this month to New York.
Here, he answers FIVE QUESTIONS.
1) When you perform a show that is really going well, what goes through
your mind? Is it ecstasy to you? Can you describe performing at it’s
DK – I have this weird thing that happens when I play, where it’s almost like a complete black out mentally…I can prepare a million things for a show, but once I get on stage, my mind goes sorta blank, and I’m just really trying to orchestrate these complex songs in a smooth, natural way, and even though I have a lot of loops pre made and beats pre programmed, it becomes this swirl of improvisation and micro composition, and I really don’t have anything static that enters my mind. The best shows are the ones where the audience gives lots of energy back, while also sorta reaching those same mindsets through dance.
2) What has been the best kind of crowds for you to play for? The worst?
DK – The best types of crowds to play for are the ones who are open minded and who come to a show wanting to be engaged. The worst are the mindless crowds of people who are just at a show to get fucked up or because it’s perceived as a “cool” show to be at.
I will say, as I develop my sound more and more, that I DO appreciate having a good P.A. system. I use a lot of melodic sub bass, and spend a lot of time focusing on details in the mixes that can get lost if I am just playing out of a coffeehouse p.a. and a bass amp or something like that…which I am still known to do hahaha!
3) How old were you when you knew that you wanted to perform? What has the evolution been like into the person you are now?
DK – I’ve been performing since I was pretty young, and started my first band in 8th grade. I have evolved from long haired, wizardly experimental rock and roll guitarist, to long haired wizardly experimental bass music producer. I used to be very into every aspect of being a musician (fashion, online presence, partying, all that garbage), and over the years, I have really just developed an interest in sound and texture. The science of sound, is so fascinating to me. I love trying to unlock the mysteries of frequencies, and the fractal nature of soundwaves.
4) You are moving to New York. When and why? What do you expect there that isn’t here?
DK – I am moving to NYC on Nov 29, the day after my Black Friday going away party at the Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln. I have been living here my whole life, and for the past 12 years, I have been making progressive,experimental music out of here, and it’s just such a struggle. For years I didn’t mind, but now, I want to be closer to the people that can help me develop my sound, and get it out to the right people. I also would like to go somewhere where more people are experimenting with dance music and electronic music, and where it’s viewed as a progressive culture, and not a novelty.
5) Can you speak a little about your notorious feelings about Saddle
Creek style/artists? Is that whole thing much ado about nothing, or are
you really effected or interested in some way in them?
DK – That feels like a lifetime ago. I was a very jealous guy back in the day, and I wrote a song that expressed that quite clearly. Today, I still harbor some of those feelings, I wonder why those guys never saw potential in me, and why they never wanted to work with me, but I don’t care or get hung up on them at all anymore. It’s just the way it is. You can’t focus on the times you’ve felt passed over, or snubbed, or ignored, because every artist, at every level, still has those things happen to them, and if you let those feelings consume you, you will drive yourself up the wall.
I have been so extremely fortunate to have a constant cast of EXTREMELY COOL record labels that have helped me release music throughout my career, and I don’t take that lightly or for granted. It’s a real honor that for whatever reason, people DO see potential and something special in my music, and I’m perfectly happy to celebrate that and keep my focus and energy there.