Keyz’s’s Origin and Lofty Goal
Singer, producer, and songwriter Julian Thomas, aka Julian Keyz, 22, wants to make a name for himself in entertainment. In addition to working on solo projects, he takes time to help others achieve their goals while keeping one goal in mind, to simply change the world.
Originally from Chicago’s Suburbs, he spent his youth living in Park Forest before moving to Richton Park. He says by growing up in these areas from the age of 2 he had the chance to live a nice suburban lifestyle.
Birth of Musical Interests and Aspirations
“I remember growing up and seeing that transition plan to knock down all of the projects and that lead to a lot of people relocating to the suburbs. It was predominately white at that time, but now it’s all black,” Keyz said jokingly.
Keyz got his start in music when his mother suggested that he take some classes in piano while his sister was taking dance lessons. Even though he told his mother that he wanted to quit, she suggested that he give it another year, and the more he went the better he became as he learned the lessons quickly.
The Apollo at 12 and the Chicago Bulls
Following his training, he went on to perform in different events including dancing for the Chicago Bulls for three seasons and in local talent shows. His biggest break came when he went to New York to perform at the Apollo Theater at 12 years old in 2006. There is where Keys recall the first time he had the feeling of being a real performer.
“When I got there and I looked at the crowd I thought ‘this is where music can take me’. At that moment, that’s where I felt my career starting and I began considering that this is something I want to do.”
With the attention he received from his television appearance, Keyz wanted to remain private from his friends and family with his performances and says that people didn’t really know what he was doing until his mother told them.
“It felt good when people acknowledge your craft and not like you for just what you do. That turned me off to the attention.”
Influence of Stevie and Tupac
Even though he loves music, he admits that when he was younger his weakness was that he didn’t spend much time practicing his craft. He says that it explains why he didn’t reach his full potential. To this day, he is still looking for his signature sound that shows himself in his art.
His musical influence was all a part of growing up in a diverse household as his father played gangsta rap and alternative rock, grandparents played gospel, and his mother would play classic hits from Stevie Wonder and others. The first artist that caught his attention was Tupac and his song “Ballad of a Dead Soldier”.
“His passion is what drew me. At the time I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it was his passion and how he wrote, and how he rapped, and I am like, how can I feel what he is saying and I’ve never been through anything he was talking about.”
Creativity Comes from His Life
He says creating music has to come naturally from what you experienced. Keyz goes on to say that he has hundreds of songs he wrote since he was 13, but only recorded three songs, as he said he wants to go slow and do it when it speaks to him as it will have meaning.
“You can’t rush creation. Creation comes from just living your life and then it comes from your experiences and then you can tell a story. I like to work on other people’s projects, but when I get inspired then I will create it.”
Keyz personal goal with his music is to talk to people and influence them depending on what they’re experiencing. He wants not just his music, but also his career to tell his story, and have his career convince people to understand that if he did it, they can do it. Another goal of his is to make timeless music like Michael Jackson and others whose songs are in constant rotation, but in the meantime he wants to go with the flow.
Ready for What’s Next
Keyz is currently teaching vocal, music production, and piano in his studio in California. He admits that he gets a little homesick, and thanks Chicago for being the foundation of his career and says he’s ready for the next stage in his life.
“If I continue to do music I am going to be the best at it, but if I don’t I will be supporting another person who is doing it. It’s all about where my spirit takes me.”