Brad Jones, also known as Keez, is in the process of exploding. With his tunes in the trailers for "Ant-Man" and "Neighbors," and his new record, "Water Creatures," selling well and getting a glowing review from The Huffington Post (and many other outlets), Keez is poised on the brink. When asked whether it was weird to be set up right on the tipping point of blowing up commercially, Keez says, "It's odd and cool. Feels amazing and well deserved."
Though "Water Creatures" is the album putting him on the map, Jones has been toiling in the music industry for years. Between 1996 and 2001 he was in the local band Floor Ride, which was voted Central Oregon's top band several years in a row. After a stint with another local band, Wookiefoot, he eventually released his first solo album in 1999: "Spots of Orange."
He slowed down in the music industry for a few years while raising his daughter. After touring with Dirtball off and on, it was the track that he produced with JayTab that was featured in the trailer for "Neighbors," and then his subsequent track in the "Ant-Man" trailer that gave him his richest taste yet of commercial success. Why now? According to Keez: "My music wasn't good enough for years."
Keez doesn't think his last record was very good. He wants Bend to really give "Water Creatures" a chance because he thinks he has turned a corner as an artist. "I wasn't focused on the last one," says Jones, who adds that he was too scattered.
Scattered isn't a word to describe "Water Creatures," at all. Instead, the album feels like Jones is rediscovering his abilities and throwing everything at the wall to create a tapestry of everything he likes to hear. Watching him sing and play along with tracks from his next record is to see someone truly in love with the moment and what he is achieving in it.
"I'm playing around with sounds and tones" says Jones. "When I play the keyboard, I find a certain tone I like and it kind of developed into a style of songwriting. I had no idea what I was going for, just that I liked what it sounded like when I got there."
That sense of improvisation is what keeps "Water Creatures" from ever becoming stale over its 73-minute run time. The opening track, "Freak Show," is a hook-heavy, Addams Family electro-funk tune, while the second song is a synth-fueled '80s inspired pop track. "I create these sounds," says Jones, "and I think 'oh, this would be great for a reggae song or a disco funk song' and it turns into that. Basically, I did that every day of the week for six-months at a time. I decided to go for a vocal album. I decided to go to my roots and sing."
"Water Creatures" feels like Keez has something to prove and he's ready to be judged for it. Though staying firmly nestled in EDM (except for the show-stopping, mid-album "Mr. Stallenbrown), Keez doesn't seem interested in the constraints of sticking to a specific style of electronic music. After hearing a few tracks from his next record (due around June 1, according to Keez), he is only expanding the scope of his sound. The new beats are extremely catchy and seem perfectly calibrated to be radio-ready hits.
When asked to describe whether he plans to stick with EDM or go back to his classical piano roots, Keez answers: "It's going to be a really incredible electronic album. It's really dark Trent Reznor meets Phish meets Filter meets Queens of the Stone Age meets Empire of the Sun with a twist. Also the huge Trap, Big Beat drops EDM. I'm trying to get as weird as I can."