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Meet musicians who are based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Producer Chris Keys Talks Honesty, Collaboration, And 'Judas And The Black Messiah'

Chris Keys
Fresh Daily
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Chris Keys

There’s a reason why every track on Chris Keys’ debut solo record is named after a bridge in the Bay Area: late-night Bay Bridge drives are part of the creative process for the Oakland-based pianist and composer. It all starts with a simple mantra: feel it out.

Being present is one way you can account for honesty in music. One of the only prerequisites for making good music is for it to be honest.

He’s produced beats for some of the nation’s most prominent underground hip-hop artists and regularly hits up Oakland hip-hop hotbeds like SMARTBOMB. His most frequent collaborator is Detroit rapper Quelle Chris. In 2021, the two provided music for the Oscar-winning film "Judas and the Black Messiah."

In June, Keys released Lemon Tree, a collection of songs mostly written during quarantine. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, he breaks down his recent work and shares how a little mindfulness goes a long way in finding his groove.

David Exumé (he/him/his) is a 2020-2021 Audio Academy Fellow. His reporting interests include music history, immigration, community organizing, and urban planning. He's previously worked at KCRW in Santa Monica and WPRB in Princeton.