Audeze talks with music director and keyboardist OsKeyz

Over the past two decades OsKeyz has been best known for being one of the UK’s most sought after Keyboard Players and Music Directors for Grammy, BET, Soultrain and Billboard award winning artists.
OsKeyz has performed with some of the most renowned Soul and RnB artists such as Lalah Hathaway, Ledisi, Jazmine Sullivan, Tweet, Jodeci, Teedra Moses, Mario, Jon B, Eric Roberson, Raheem DeVaughn, Syleena Johnson, Conya Doss, Taio Cruz and Gloria Estefan in addition to many others.
Since 2020 OsKeyz has fully transitioned from Stage to Studio and is now an Artist-Producer, working on his own projects in collaboration with some of the hottest established and upcoming Artists across a plethora of genres.

 

"I don’t even feel like I have to spend extra time on referencing mixes on different audio applications as I know I can fully trust my Audeze headphones. This is without a doubt one of my favourite and most important pieces of equipment I have in the studio!" - OsKeyz
Here's our chat with OsKeyz:
Can you pick out any favourites from your work that you’re particularly proud of ?

There have been many amazing, inspiring and steep learning moments throughout my career as a Music Director and Producer that has shaped my musical personality and made me who I am today, however, my favourite has to be my own record, my debut EP ‘6019’ written in collaboration with one of my favourite Soul singers, Conya Doss.

Putting this record out has broken the mould of years of procrastination, over analysing and doubts as a creative, and gave me the freedom to finally start releasing my own music as an Artist-Producer without working to a specific format or staying ‘in line’ with someone else’s vision.

Nothing can make you happier, more proud and content as a creative in the music industry than working on, completing and putting out your own work.

How would you define your main role on most of the projects you work on these days?

These days I’m fully focused on making and releasing my own music so I take on every role from Writing (co-writing in case of a collab), Composing, Arranging, Programming, Recording, Vocal Producing and Mixing Records.

How did you get started in music? What kind of music did you listen to while growing up and how has that progressed?

Coming from a musical family where everyone is a pro musician, it feels like I was always destined to become a musician, producer and performer of some sort.

I am a classically and jazz trained pianist so the foundation of my craft is built upon years and years of practicing and performing classical music as well as traditional and Fusion Jazz with a countless amount of performances.

The diverse range of music I listened to while growing up is the reason why I can comfortably work in almost every genre of music whether on stage or in the studio today. Growing up I listened to everything from classical, jazz and soul to hip hop, dance, rock and heavy metal.

My interest in such a wide variety of music has never been surface-level; it’s been more of a deep dive into each genre and the artists/bands that represent it, from classical composers to death metal bands and everything in between.

This approach to music and my interests in it still stands today.

Can you name any factors that influenced the course of your musical life? Heroes, role models, moments, interactions, etc?

The most major factor that has influenced the course of my musical life from the very beginning is definitely my Dad. As a professional pianist/keyboard player and actively world-touring musician, my Dad used to bring home a crazy amount of amazing records that I then had the opportunity and fortune to listen to such as George Duke, Quincy Jones, Tower of Power and Brecker Brothers to name a few.

Some of the albums my Dad introduced me to when I was a small child, my music peers only discovered in their late teens or twenties. Being exposed to amazingly recorded and performed music from a very young age has definitely helped shape the course of my musical life.

The most memorable moments in my music career are receiving appreciation and gratitude for my work and skills by the Artists who have always been my musical heroes. These moments definitely gave me an enormous amount of inspiration and drive me to be the best version of me that I can be.

Is there any gear you find yourself turning to most when working on a project? What are some of your favourite tools/instruments recently?

In terms of creating, I don’t have any specific pieces of gear that I turn to every time I make music. It all varies and depends on the type of project I’m working on at the time however, for Jazz/Soul/RnB keyboard players like myself, the most important piece of gear which provides that sweet creamy harmonic foundation of any song will be Fender Rhodes.

Unfortunately you don’t get the luxury of being able to use the real thing at every session and at every studio so that’s where ‘Neo-Soul Keys Studio’ by Gospel Musicians comes into play.

For me personally, this VST provides the most realistic, organic and warm sounding emulation of Electric Pianos (Suitcase, Stage, Wurli) along with very complex and detailed vintage modeled effects.

One of my favourite things to do in the studio is vocal production. I’m a big fan of harmonising and layering so saying that, there is a selection of vocal chains that are my favourite go-tos such as Manley VoxBox with Neumann U87, Universal Audio LA-610 Mk II with AKG XL II and Avalon 737 with Blue Kiwi.

As I do the majority of mixing in the comfort of my intimate home recording studio, I tend to mix ’In The Box’. For that I find the UAD plugins (with the API series being my favourite atm) along with the SSL Bundle being my first choice of tools for building a strong sonic foundation of any mix.

Do you have any words of wisdom for people who might aspire toward a similar path of their own career?
  • If you work for others, be on time, be professional, be fully prepared for both studio session/rehearsal or a live performance; keep it simple.
  • If you’re a part of a team, stay humble, inspire and help others.
  • If you’re in charge, don’t be a boss, be a leader.
  • If you create your own, follow your heart, follow your instincts, be yourself, don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • Don’t analyse your work through ‘what others might think’.
  • It’s all about creating whatever YOU want and whatever YOU like so the people you’ll attract, will like you for who you are and what you do.
  • Making mistakes is a part of the learning curve. Just make sure you don’t keep making the same decisions that lead to the same mistakes and then expect to receive different results.

There are a lot of ups and downs in the music industry regardless of your role in it, so no matter the situation and circumstances, remember it is not about what happens but how you deal with it that matters!

How long have you been working on headphones, and how do you typically use them in your workflow?

Originally I used headphones for reference only but as time passed and technology developed I nowadays find myself using headphones as my main thing and speakers as a reference.

They are definitely playing an important role in getting my sounds right whether I produce records, track vocals, mix or simply programming my keyboards for an upcoming show or tour.

Sometimes when a Mastering Engineer evaluates your mix and asks you for a couple of microscopic changes, a good pair of headphones will allow you to identify every detail of the mix and make accurate changes accordingly.

If you’re a busy producer you might find yourself working on different writing, producing or recording sessions at completely different locations. The studio sessions might be held anywhere from budget home recording rooms to big commercial studios. With that in mind, having a reliable and trustworthy pair of headphones is absolutely crucial.

How have your Audeze headphones affected your work? Can you tell us what you've been working on with them so far?

They’ve affected my work tremendously! I received my pair of LCD-X’s in the middle of mixing an electronic album. First of all they made my workflow more time efficient. The minute I put them on everything changed for the better!

Incredible detail in time-based effects and super neutral sound with amazing transparency. Instrument placement, panning and balancing has never been easier. Work that I’d normally spend a whole day on has been cut to like 2 hours!

I don’t even feel like I have to spend extra time on referencing mixes on different audio applications as I know I can fully trust my Audeze headphones. This is without a doubt one of my favourite and most important pieces of equipment I have in the studio!