By Norman Mayers
Love and pain. Joy and sorrow. Spirituality and sexuality. Hidden Beach recording artist Keite Young is all about the dual nature of life. His music is equal parts blues, soul, gospel, and rock, referencing the many traditions of African-American music and weaving them into a complex tapestry. Ordained as a minister at a young age yet having experienced his share of heartache, the album The Rise and Fall of Keite Young is a powerful testament to a life truly lived.
Nu-Soul: Are you excited about your album coming out?
Keite: I am. I am excited about that. It’s my first release. I’m excited that people out there are looking forward to it.
Nu-Soul: You were ordained at age 14. How and why did that happen at such a young age? And how instrumental was that experience in the music you’re creating now?
Keite: I think just like being a musician or an artist, being a minister, you don’t choose that. It kinda chooses you and you either respond now or respond later. As far as the age, I didn’t really have much to do at that age. I was raised in the church all my life. Apart from that I had a relationship with God all my life. It was more so a matter of me knowing that yes it was real and that is was going be a part of my life. I guess the way that affected my music is I think I’m more sensitive to things of a spiritual nature and I am able to incorporate that into a sensual environment because I’m both. I’m don’t deny that. I am a very sensual person and I’m a very spiritual person. I don’t think the two conflict at all.
Nu-Soul: Now what was your experience touring with Kirk Franklin like. I’m taking it back here a little.
Keite: It was a bunch of fun. There were some hard lessons I learned. I had some great time. I think I really learned first hand what the struggle between art and commerce was like. It was a huge learning process. I’m very thankful for it.
Nu-Soul: Your music is a lot more sexual or sensual than your gospel roots would lead people to believe. What really lead to that change of shift?
Keite: I think it was always there. Not only was I influenced by gospel but my Great grandfather was also a deacon and a renowned blues singer. And he still sings the blues until this day. There was an old juke joint by the name of the Blue Bird that he still performs in today. So the blues was also a profound influence on my musical maturity. As well as Led Zeppelin, and rock, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and all these blues cats. When I look back at it, I think I’ve come to terms with it so quickly because my family they were huge Prince fans, Parliament fans, Sly Stones fans, but we went to church six days a week. It was really a beautiful thing to grow up like that.
Nu-Soul: What is the significance of title of your album The Rise & Fall of Keite Young?
Keite: The album title describes my rhythm. The rise and fall. Not so much from a finality standpoint. Everyone thinks it’s so finite or it’s tragic. To me what I wanted to convey was not only my rhythm, my day to day, my experience, but I wanted to reflect and to show some commonality between my rhythm and your rhythm. My theory is we are not all as different as we appear to be. We all want the same things, Joy. Success. We all fear the same things. Pain. Discomfort. So that’s what I wanted to convey with the title.
Nu-Soul: So how did you come to work with Hidden Beach?
Keite: Well my Great Uncle, by the name of William Tidsdale, he was at my grandparents for a family gathering and I was in the game room, which was my makeshift studio at the time. He just came in and was listening to what I doing. It was just some songs I was doing and he heard it and he was taken aback. He told me to put what I had on a CD and he would bring me back a record deal. He shot it over to Steve Harvey and he loved it and the next week I went out to meet him and it pretty much went from there.
Nu-Soul: How did your collaboration with N’Dambi come about?
Keite: N’Dambi are from the same place practically. She’s from Dallas. I’m from Fort Worth. We’ve known each for a few years. We’ve always been close and admired each other. I had an idea for a song I wanted to write with her so we just sat down and wrote it. She was working with a producer who had a track that we took a stab at it. It was really very casual. We have a lot of synergy her and I.
Nu-Soul: Now you’ve gone through a lot of major life changes during the recording of this album. How much of that comes through in the finished work?
Keite: It’s kinda a hotspot right now. There are some songs on the album that are 10 years old. There are some that are still relevant to me and to my experience but I think the changes that I went through during the making of the album kinda crept in on three to four songs. I think once you hear you can pick them out. I came into my own as an artist.
Nu-Soul: How would you describe your own music and who are some of your biggest influences?
Keite: I think the first word I would use to describe it is passionate. Whether it’s pain or joy I feel things very deeply. I am a bit of an extremist. You will probably listen to the record and hear several different people. As far as my influences, my earliest influences really were just movies. I’m a very visual person. So movies like Star Wars. But everyone from Sam Cooke to the guys in my old churches make chorus. I wanted to sound like those guys because they sounded like they smoked and drank all the time. To Jimi to Sly Stone. I went through a really bad Little Richard phase.
Nu-Soul: What can people expect to see in your live performances?
Keite: My live performances are based around energy. It’s not so much what you see or what you hear but a combination of both. My goal is to transport you into my world. I want each and every person to feel like it’s just me and them. It’s like making love.
Nu-Soul: After the album comes out what is next on your agenda?
Keite: Tour. Tour. Tour. I want to be constantly out on the road. Making the record is one experience but I’m a performer. I really have a heart for the stage and I just want to be everywhere.
Keite Young’s website