As someone who has taken and never done well in Algebra several times over the past 20 or so years, people like Iyes Keen are wonders to me. She grasps and is invigorated by subjects that often leave so many scratching their heads. However, Iyes Keen isn’t just isn’t someone with a science background, she’s also a musician who draws inspiration from both sides of the mind – and the results are as inspired as can be. We talked about the music, her not so common venue choice, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: Music and science, not the most uncommon pair in the world but how did you step into the creative realm?
Iyes Keen: I have always been writing songs and making music in one way or another. When I was younger, it was more about copying other musicians, which is an important part of learning how to become a musician; everyone does it on some level.
As far as actual creativity goes, science started all of that. Until I started looking at the world like a beautiful and complicated puzzle, I had no clue what real creativity felt like. I started writing songs and poems about it pretty early on, which is difficult because I think most people want to hear about love. I find math especially creative. Which is funny, because everyone I know who enjoys math seems to think they’re locked out of the creativity club. They have no clue that they are actually leading it. How would we understand beauty if we didn’t have mathematicians?
Kendra: Have you been able to use things you’ve stored away as a scientist towards your budding career as a musician? Any correlations there?
Iyes Keen: Absolutely and entirely. It spills into everything I do, especially music and poems. My favorite thing to do is to sit somewhere and think of all the little things about the microcosm that also apply to the macrocosm. It is so cool to be able to experience the world unfolding, and connecting over and over again. My favorite so far was when I saw a nucleus gateway, and all I could think about was a black hole.
Kendra: You’re also a fan of science fiction and with a song like “A Walk to Your Planet” I have to ask if aliens finally stuck around once they got to Earth – what venue would you take them to and what artist would you see together to showcase the best our planet has to offer in terms of beauty and art?
Iyes Keen: This will sound super lame, but my favorite venue is the studio. I get much more out of watching people in the creative process and just trying things out and letting their words and sounds surprise them. I am LOVING these quarantine shows, though! Lights and IamIamWhoAmI both did these live YouTube performances and the production level was fantastic. I believe they were both outside, in nature, in the dark with synthesizers and lights and fog….all of that in the middle of nature is so appealing to me. It’s blending my favorite worlds.
Kendra: Maybe you’d take them to a show of yours and listen to “Wait a minuteWait?” In a year where waiting was the ultimate norm, do you feel humans have evolved to have more patience?
Iyes Keen: Yes, and no. It probably depends on a combination of what type of person you are when it comes to coping with change, and what type of person you already were when this all happened. I have a lot of patience, and I expect things to just unfold around me, as they normally do. But I know there is a lot of anxiety because none of us really know when it will end. At some point, we were given one, but now it is just…up in the air.
So I hope we are all learning to be patient. But I also hope we are all taking advantage of this opportunity to grow and become comfortable being alone so that when we get back out into the world, we appreciate physical connection more than ever. I realize that I was FAR too comfortable alone in my room.
Kendra: You’ve got a few singles out now, but are you working towards a full LP soon?
Iyes Keen: Yes, yes, yes! I am working on an album called ‘Molecular Machines.’ It was originally going to be an EP, but just recently I decided I needed more room to tell a story. It is much darker than I anticipated it would be, but it feels right. It is more in line with the kinds of media I seek out myself. I just didn’t know how to make these sounds when I first started producing it, and the vocals especially….learning to mix vocals was torture. Lyrically it is turning into more of a progressive metal vibe. I can hear djenty chuggs in my head when I listen to it, but of course, I’m not really putting any of that down into the songs. It’s kind of like a secret instrument no one other than me will hear. But yeah….it sounds like my favorite movies, and that’s what I wanted. So I am crazy excited about it.
Kendra: Lastly, it’s hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Iyes Keen: Oh, no way, there is ALWAYS room for plans! Three things come to mind here:
– I want to improve on the producing side of all this. Producing is so hard. Especially when you’re writing and recording at the same time. I have tried separating them, but I can’t. They all go hand in hand. I am writing, recording, mixing, etc all at once. Sometimes it overwhelms me, and I lose whatever spark I had in that moment. So I will have to step away for a day and come back.
– Live performance. I haven’t played any live shows since 2010. Even so, I had a band then. I only had to worry about guitar and vocals. I’m not sure how to work out these performances when there is so much to do. Even with like, just live looping alone, it takes god-like powers to make all your loops sync up perfectly. I am working on it, though. I will probably do live shows on Twitch or Instagram at first, then branch out once I’ve grown some real balls.
– Finishing my work! I have the album, finishing my 2nd book of poetry, working on my microscopy, and jumping in and playing around with my friends on their Podcast. It’s called “What’s Yer Weird Story and it is probably exactly what you think!