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AAA Music | 19 August 2022

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AAA Music Approved: Alto Key

| On 30, Jan 2019


Who are you and where are you from?

Hey, I’m Keian, the singer songwriter behind Alto Key! Alto Key focuses on collaboration and allowing the beauty of acoustic instruments to shine through. Each song blends orchestral tones with raw, emotional lyrics for an honest indie folk sound. I have lived in a few different places across the UK, but I am now happily settled in London, one of the key music hubs of the world.

Music has always been an important outlet to me throughout my life. I learnt to play piano and sing in my teens, but growing up, many of my friends and family never saw me in that light. After pursuing a safe education unrelated to music, I poured all my pent-up creative energy into an alternative version of myself, hence “Alto Key” (short for Alternate Keian). Working with a diverse array of talented musicians and audio engineers has also allowed me to make this much, much more than just myself.

Whilst the message of each song may vary, the brand of Alto Key stands for two key themes: pursuing your dreams and supporting one another in a competitive music industry.

What inspired you to get into music?

I love music in general as it makes me feel something. It’s a very intimate moment when you hear a song and can take its various sounds and emotions and relate it your own life. I was inspired to make indie folk music as I have always found it to have this effect on me the most. Sure, there are times when I want to listen to an upbeat, cheesy song, but for the moments I am hidden away, I love folk music.

I particularly enjoy the sounds and textures of acoustic instruments. It’s hard to articulate, but I love how real instruments sound alive and human. All the little cracks, creaks, slides and imperfections. This feeling is amplified even more when a musician passionately plays their instrument of choice and there is a real connection between them.

What have you done?

To date I have release one EP, ‘Animals’ across all the usual online distribution channels such as Spotify. My songs have been featured on a variety of radio stations, podcasts and blogs including BBC Music Introducing, Indie Originals and Alpha Tunes Media. To date I also have approx 3K followers across social media. I’m proud of the fact that I have managed to put myself out there and that I have been fortunate enough to work with a number of talented and like-minded musicians.

What are you like live?

Given the complex arrangements of some of the songs I have worked on, I haven’t performed live as Alto Key. I’m quite keen that I don’t compromise the quality or overall sound of each song and have focused on building an online following. That said, I am working towards performing live and I will be bearing this in mind when writing new material.

What makes you different?

I really try to make music that emphasises honest lyrics and real instruments. I think it’s this focus along my supportive attitude that has garnered attention on my social media. I also avoid trying to be something I am not. When people comment and message me, I am always friendly and open to what they have to say.

Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do you listen to music?

I listen to music entirely online through streaming. I do own a few CDs and vinyls but the music industry is moving in the streaming direction. Whether that is a good or bad thing, that’s for you to decide, but I will say that modern musicians have a lot more opportunity to get their music out there than they did in the past ten, twenty years.

What have you been listening to?

I run a weekly ‘Top Tracks’ playlist on Spotify featuring other indie folk artists, so I am constantly on the lookout for new and undiscovered music. Some great artists I have discovered (and some I have met) include Roisin O’Hagan, Liv Austen, Loren Nine and Claire Frances. Some bigger artists I have listened to recently include Novo Amor, Gabrielle Aplin, dodie and Maggie Rogers.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am looking to release my next EP ‘Seas Unknown’ later this year which will feature three big, fun songs incorporating the best elements of my current EP ‘Animals’. The songs were enjoyable to make, but quite complex and timely to put together. Going forward, I’d be really keen in trying to make stripped back songs that still hold key themes of the first two EPs, but are more intimate.

Questions answered by: Keian a.k.a. Alto Key…