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Will DeKeizer [Interview]

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Capturing the eyes of many top DJs and producers, Will DeKeizer's music is taking on the international progressive house music scene by storm. Massive support from Hernan Cattaneo (residential podcast and shows around the world), Guy J, Guy Mantzur, Nick Warren, Ezequiel Arias, NOIYSE PROJECT, and many more. With recent releases on Plattenbank and Sudbeat, DeKeizer's music takes on a new twist of dark, melodic, and hypnotic sounds. This week sees Will making his debut on Suza Records with the Hernan Cattaneo supported 'Space Dream'.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Will to learn more about the release of ‘Space Dream’, his musical history, studio process, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Will, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hi Mitch! Thank you for having me. Currently feeling excited for the future, just came back after a buzzing weekend visiting Stereo Montreal for the first time and hanging out with the Sudbeat crew. The people there shared the same amount of passion I have with music and progressive in general, it was an amazing feeling and very refreshing.

How has your start to the year been and what are your plans for the week?

The start of the year was a bit stressful, as my last contracted employer ended in December and I did not have anything lined up afterwards. Currently preparing for a follow up interview as a software engineer, and also finishing up a remix.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

Musician first actually, then producer then DJ. I enjoy them all! Each give a unique feeling when it comes to music making. Each has their own way of getting into the flow state of music and what a wonderful experience that is.

Can you name five tracks that were important in your musical development and why they are so significant for you?

Current albums/tracks that stand out to me are:

Tangerine Dream – Tangram,

Vangelis – Chariots of Fire,

Tiesto – Adagio for Strings,

The SimCity 4 Soundtrack,

Animusic 1 & 2,

All of these pieces of work made a HUGE impression of me as a kid, wondering how these sounds and melodies were made. Its what sparked the creative side of my musical journey.

You started your musical journey being classically trained at playing piano, tell us how you transitioned from that into an electronic music producer and DJ? And how has that past musical history helped your work in electronic music.

I was naturally gifted in music growing up, and that is why my folks had me take piano lessons. It definitely helped my sense of intuition for melodies and improvisation. Being able to play by ear is a very useful skill. That is why I always recommend a newer producer to learn an instrument as well. My interests in music were always evolving, and it just made sense that I picked up electronic music making, with old school DOS programs on my father’s IBM computers. It just started as a hobby writing simple melodies. Being on the computer as a kid was super natural as we played a lot of computer games growing up.

How did growing up in the USA influence your music taste and direction? Or did it at all?

While true I was born here, half of my childhood was spent overseas in Spain and in England. That is where I first heard electronic music, and I’ve carried that with me since everywhere my family took me.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in the USA or your state, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

I have only recently begun traveling to meet other artist and producers, so I do not know many city’s nightlife. However, I do recommend Denver’s Whirling Dervish Productions. They host quality shows and is quite the force in the progressive scene. Kaz is a professional!

With the majority of progressive music artists, DJs, labels and events living or happening outside of North America, do you feel any sort of disconnection to the scene living where you do?

There is definitely a disconnect. When I visited Stereo Montreal for the first time, I felt I finally belonged somewhere. My music passion/hobby wasn’t “taboo” or “niche”. It was super refreshing being surrounded by musically educated people. It has definitely helped further my calling to move to a city with a good music industry sometime soon.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

Currently I am at home completing my bachelors of computer science online at my local university, and working on a lot of music. I only have time and the resources to travel maybe 3-4 times out of the year. The other weekend was Montreal. In May for memorial weekend, I will be in Denver with my friends Kaz and Hernan. In October, I will be at ADE 2023. I am really looking forward to that one as it will be my first time there!

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

Mostly self-taught. Back in the early 2000s, all we had were online forums or IRC. And back then a lot of other producers were ruthless with advice. Newer artists are very lucky to start when you can find everything online for free. The only real burden is discerning what you are hearing is actually correct advice. I would definitely recommend trying to reach out to a producer you respect and learn from them if possible. Also, if you naturally find joy in making music, you will get over the curve in a matter of time. I have noticed that people who get into music making for the wrong reasons tend to not last very long in their journey.

You’ve accomplished a lot in a short amount of time with releases on Sudbeat and Plattenbank highlighting your discography, what goals do you have going forward? Or is that something you even think about?

I definitely dream of a future with music. I have met many new friends and artists all around the world I would love to meet. My ideal dream is being able to go on tour sharing music I love, and do consulting on the side with programming.

You have a new EP ‘Space Dream’ out now via Suza Records. Tell us a bit about the release, who’s been playing it and what was it about the label which made it feel like a comfortable home for your music.

I really respect the Suza team and we have been talking about a release for a while before we decided on these two tracks. They are fairly melodic and thought it would be a great way to introduce my self to the Suza family this year. So far the main acts I am aware of that play this EP is Hernan and DJ Ruby.

Let our readers inside your studio for a moment, what is your current setup and what studio tools are featured heavily in your recent productions and more specifically the ‘Space Dream’ EP?

It is a home-grown bedroom studio currently. I use Adam T7Vs studio monitors, and an overclocked Ryzen 9 desktop. I used both FL Studio and Ableton for these two tracks. I have considered switching to the newer M2 macbooks as my main production machine, if travel becomes a lot more frequent. My current room is not treated acoustically very well, so I have to do a lot of educated guessing with my mix downs. Ideally I’d like to build a room inside of a room and have full control over the environment to produce higher quality music.

Let’s talk about production a bit more for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play in writing music for you?

I usually get ideas if I hear a track I really like and think about how I could potentially recreate that sound and twist it into my own version. I can also get inspiration from being at shows that plays progressive music like Stereo. I have been making music for over 18 years now so it doesn’t take much to find a quick idea I really like and make a whole track out of it.

Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice? And who is someone you share your new music with first for feedback?

I get really excited when something is finished and often want to share with bigger artists as quickly as I can. I have learned to slow down with this process, to make sure when they play music of mine, that it is of top quality. There are a few producers I respect that I share upcoming music with that I trust. Their input is super valuable and it lets me know my mixing is good when it is hard to tell in an untreated room. Noiyse Project, Hobin Rude, and SimplyCity are my go-to. They have been super helpful in the past year.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

I love it all, but I generally let someone else master the tracks. Cid Inc is a master at mastering. He has done a lot of my tracks already and understands what kind of sound I am going for.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

If I could have Deadmau5’s studio or Richard Divine’s studio, I would be in heaven. I can’t imagine what its like listening to music in those spaces.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

I definitely like to tell a story whenever I am DJing. Usually, I will go for a specific theme or a certain type of sound. So sometimes, my own original music will not fit. But I am definitely trying to get my music to a point where I am comfortable playing them in my future sets.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

For a while I was not happy with how my music was sounding. After going to proper progressive shows or hearing my music played next to much better tracks, it was like a lightbulb moment for me. I finally understood how to write and mix tracks that will translate really well in a large system. Listening to house music in a quiet studio where you are concerned about neighbors is not the same experience as hearing it live.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

This is a hard choice. I think this would be a really fun line up.

Graziano Raffa as an opener, next, SimplyCity, followed up by Hernan Cattaneo B2B Nick Warren, and to drive us all home Guy J. 2-3 hours each.

Current top five tracks?

(no particular order)

Guy J – A State of Trance

Mike Rish – District

Noiyse Project – Not In My Road

Hans Zimmer – Time (Simply City Remix)

Rockka – Rediscovering Rome

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

I remember reading The Giver, a dystopian story where everything is the same, and there is one person that carries the burden of remembering the past before this self-declared “utopia”. I remember relating a lot to the main protagonist, how different I felt from everyone else around me. Not being able to connect with my peers like how everyone else did. I may write a track as a tribute to this story.

You’ve got one meal left on earth, what are you eating and where is the meal taking place?

A chicken broccoli casserole. This casserole I make has chicken, greens, cheese, and rice.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

I enjoy spending quiet times hiking or being in remote ranches without any internet access. Just enjoying the peace away from the busy life, we find ourselves in.

What does the remainder of 2023 hold for you in terms of releases and gigs? Anything you can share with us?

No upcoming up gigs as of now, but I am hoping to change that. I have quite a number of releases coming up as well. I can’t share much info yet as it is too early for that.

'Space Dream' are available now via Suza Records: https://bit.ly/3nJ5aoy

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