Keith & The Album Leaf
When I was 18 years old I got really stoned and went to see Sigur Ros play at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas. I had no idea that my life would later be significantly altered by not Sigur Ros, but by the opening band, The Album Leaf. I always wanted to be a team player, but more than that I wanted to have the ability to be every player on them team simultaneously and have full control of the team, and every play. Jimmy LaValle was the person who made me realize that I could play music with or without a band and people would still pay attention and enjoy it because it the quality of the ideas flowing were more important than virtuosic musicianship or complex stage antics. Although Jimmy was playing with a full band consisting of amazing players, I was immediately well aware that his hands held the reigns of which guided the musical cruise ship. The next day I went to a Big B’s records and purchased a copy of One Day I’ll Be on Time, and I was ecstatically driving around the suburban streets of Vegas wondering how the drums on “The MP” were recorded and what kind of piano was used, and how the panning decisions were made, etc. I couldn’t stop wondering about the possibilities of my own creative mind placed in a studio environment and what could come of it, and better yet how to quench my furiously growing curiosity about everything involved with the recording, production, mixing, mastering, just the entire process as a whole. Months after this introduction to Jimmy’s catalogue I went to another “Leaf” show at Cafe Espresso Roma after I had my wisdom teeth pulled and was on more than a fair share of Vicodin. Not gonna lie, the pain killers were just the icing on the cake, but it was literally one of the most chilled out experiences of my life at that point. Jimmy played solo using a handful of synths and sequencers as well as a projections on a small screen behind the stage. I got completely lost in the experience. I approached Jimmy after the set in my pilled out haze and blabbered some words of endearment at him to which he simply replied “thanks.” I thought he was too cool for school. Fast forward to 2008. I had moved to San Diego to get out of Vegas and pursue a bullshit community college endeavor which lead to a studio intership with Pall Jenkins at Stereo Disguise Recording Lab. One day I stopped by the studio to help out and Jimmy was tracking bass parts for a country record written by John Meeks. I was flabbergasted to perceive the idea of this prolific ambient electronic musician recording folky bass lines, but I was hardly tapping into the legacy of what this person had already musically contributed to the world as a 29 year old. I blatantly expressed my love for The Album Leaf’s music to Jimmy, and he was super welcoming about it. He even invited me over to his place in North Park soon after to hang out and trade samples (which I still use to this day) and talk about music production and various approaches to the game, experiences, etc. We drank Coronas and smoked cigarettes indoors while sharing tunes and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Shortly after he invited me to open for Leaf at Ché Café Collective (RIP) and I got to play for a small, but still sold out audience consisting of some kids who ended up becoming better producers than me in subsequent years (IE Rafa Alvarez & Tim J Barry). Even on a small San Diego scale, this was a total dream for me. Months later Jimmy had me commissioned to do a remix for “Falling From the Sun” which would later appear on the record store day release of the There Is a Wind EP on Sub Pop Records. Jimmy asked me how long I normally spent on my remixes and I replied “eh, I dunno, like 5 hours”. LOL. He was like “spend a week on this one.”, and I did. It pushed me to another level and I was grateful to have someone in my life to give me that nudge. Months later Jimmy decided to bring my band Black Mamba on a short run up the west coast. None of us had passports at the time so we couldn’t play the Vancouver show, but we were stoked as fuck to play San Francisco, Portland and Seattle with them. My mind was blown. A year later Jimmy and his radical wife Kate Trumbull moved up to the outskirts of Santa Cruz, CA. I had been conceiving a record called “Pre-Madonna”, but I was at a mental roadblock in the process so Jimmy agreed to have me come up to their place for a week and co-produce the record. Having the additional confidence of tracking jams with one of my favorite musicians gave me an incomparable boost in my production career. I used that energy to finish mixing the record back home and eventually put it out on my brother’s label Single Screen Records. Fast forward again to today in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been living here for exactly two years and finally played my first real live show here last night. Today I am about to head down the street to mix sound for Jimmy and drummer David LeBleu at the Bk Night Bazaar, and I am extremely excited to get to not only hear this performance, let alone steer the audio wheels. I am very grateful to be able to sonically collaborate with them and so many other talented artists at this point in my life. Thanks for reading this rant, and I hope you get something relatable/ positive out of it.