Exclusive Interview: Keith Worthy

Published On 30/10/2014 | Interviews

If you’re a clued-in type, you’ll no doubt already be aware of Keith Worthy and the spirited, unusual and non-conformist music that he supplies via his Aesthetic Audio imprint. Unsurprisingly, the man himself is as unconventional as the music he produces, and in light of that fact, the title of his brilliant debut album, ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’, is nothing if not apt. A true pioneer of discerning sounds, the Detroit native has long been a reputable go-to man for those in the know. His latest offering however, looks set to elevate his career further still. We quizzed him recently, as he gave us an intriguing insight into his current thoughts…

How are you, what’s kept you busy recently?
I’m doing great, thanks for asking, hopefully you are as well! I’m a bit of a chameleon, so life in general always keeps me really busy, but musically speaking, since this album project is so personal to me making sure that every aspect of this project gets the attention that it deserves has also kept me busy.

Why did you decide the time was right now for an album? What was the catalyst? Why haven’t you done one before now?
The original concept for ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ project actually started last year, but my vision for how the album should sound has changed since I began the project. As far as a catalyst, I’ve always revered the more classic albums before the music got so lost … my personal taste suggests that album projects should have a cohesive message, and a purpose. ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ collectively has a bit of a deviant sound, and the message is that with individualism comes a price, and that it’s okay not to fit into what everyone else is doing, but just be aware that there are always associated costs to doing you!

How have your tastes, styles and techniques change over the years do you think? Are you a more mature and fluid producer now, can you really get down the ideas in your head with efficiency?
My tastes always vary, but I tend to gravitate towards originality and sounds that are not typically the norm … it’s a bit of a reflection on my personality. I think that many people these days emulate other artists or sounds far too much, sure imitation is the greatest form of flattery as the saying goes, but it’s gotten out of hand. As far as my production/sound, I obviously have like what I’m putting out, but personally I think that there’s always an opportunity for me to keep getting better.

How differently did you approach it than a regular EP? What gave you the idea to do it as a concept album?
For me, the approach to making an album is totally different! First of all, I have particular album projects from the past that I hold near and dear in my heart as standards in terms of musicality, range and purpose. Although these projects are special for me, I had to find my own purpose and create my own sound to communicate my vision for this project. The concept for ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ is aligned with how I view not only music, but also how I view life … everyone has one opportunity to live his or her life, so how boring is it to just conform to what everyone else is doing and not leave your own mark on this world before you check out?

So did you know how you wanted it to sound or did you just start and see what happened? Is producing trial and error for you?
Honestly, I just wanted to express myself 100% … I am not perfect, but I’ve learned to manage my flaws and actually embrace them … same thing on ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’, I embraced who I am as a person/artist … flaws and all, and once I got rolling on the concept, I kept recording until the project morphed into the project that is coming out in November 2014.

How much effort went into making it work as one complete piece from start to finish, or is it more about the dancefloor?
Getting the track list to where it is on ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ took a minute, via the stated process, I have created more than enough material to release another double album, but first things first … ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ (November 2014). To answer your question, yes the dancefloor is always the focus for me … I don’t necessarily write music for people to critique it, so if the dance floor approves then my mission is accomplished.

Did you actually enjoy the process, was it fun and did you look forward to it or are you glad it’s all done now?
Thanks for asking, I did enjoy this process and it was fun, which hopefully comes out in the music. I’m not so confident anymore where music stands in today’s world, so when I was able to focus and create a project for a genre of people who I know will appreciate it, it became more personal and allowed me to be honest which became somewhat of a fun therapy session.

The album sounds like a largely analogue affair –is that right? Do you like hardware more than software, and if so, why?
It’s a mix and it depends on the mood of each day.

Were there any tracks on the album that were particularly hard or easy to get done, or any that really got the process going for you and solidified the concept in your mind?
The most difficult thing for me was only being in the right mindset to record the mood of each of the tracks on any given date … I always know what I want my music to sound like in my head, but getting it out is another thing totally, and it depends on how I’m feeling on any given day.

Were there any other albums from any genre that inspired or influenced you directly or in-directly whilst writing this album?
Inspiration Yes, and from too many different genres/artists to name them all, but the only thing that I will say that was of any real influence while I was putting together ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ is the fact that this project is cohesive and that I trusted my instincts 100%.

What is next for you now this album is done? Do you think you will do another one now you have got the bug?
I am really excited about finally releasing a killer compilation album in the spring featuring GMarcell, Steven Tang, Basic Soul Unit, Passenger, Move D, Craig Sherrad, Miles Sagnia, JuJu & Jordash, Joe Drive, Patrice Scott and myself. Albums are very expensive and risky, so learning as I go, and following my solo album, I’ve been able to compile this timeless project over the last couple of years, and these gentlemen have all patiently rode with me to see this comp project through! I also have another Lamar project by myself, and really really nice releases by Jorge Caido, Pierre XL and Tony Lionni completed for Aesthetic Audio. In closing, to answer your question, yes I do have a bit of an album bug now, and as long as the world continues to legitimately embrace these projects on Aesthetic Audio, I can continue to share them and hopefully a bit more frequently.

Keith Worthy’s ‘The Price of Non-Conformance’ is out soon on Aesthetic Audio – keep an eye on his artist page (below) for more information.

Artist PageAesthetic Audio

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About The Author

Marcus Barnes is a renowned music journalist based in London. As well as manning the good ship Deep House London he contributes to Mixmag, The Independent, Resident Advisor, i-D and many more music outlets.