Keenan Ketzner: Stuck with sound

by Halee Hastad

Keenan Ketzner was 12-years-old when he started recording music on his own. That’s right, Super Nintendo controller in one hand, microphone in the other, Ketzner recorded sounds he modified in Mario Paint.

The process was simple: Play Mario Kart and save noises in Mario Paint. Make patterns with the noises. Plug a microphone into a computer and record the noises as they play on the television. Modify noises on the computer and, ta-da, songs starting forming. A simple practice for a self professed shy-guy who would rather stay inside creating than be part of the outside world.

“It was that, or interacting with other people and I think making music was more comfortable for me at that time,” Ketzner stated.

This way of doing what he could with what he had has stuck with Ketzner – electronic pseudonym, Thomas Agora – over the years and now, nine years later, he remains without any extraordinarily fancy experimental music gadgets. No out-of-this-world mixers or synthesizers, just cassette recorders, a couple of guitars, rudimentary microphones and his computer.

Some of his most recent noise work, for example, includes cutting up tape from found cassettes and re-assembling the pieces in random order to create a new sound. He saidthe product taps into a feeling of information overload, something he often experiences daily.

One of his current noise projects, Rainbow Mantis, maintains a glitchy hiccup sound as a result of the tracks being composed of scratched cds, altered data files and warped tapes. The end product is something he describes as bubbly and cartoon-like.

The purpose of this creation is to convey a different place in time within the listening experience, he said. Something like travelling through space while watching your entire life play in the reflection of 2,000 stainless-steel toasters.

“My music is also very textural. Sort of like petting a cat, but with your ears,” he said.

Ketzner, who is from Tacoma, currently attends Western and studies music. He spends many of his days working on the four albums he is composing right now.The latest ambient project, Beyond Beauty, is focused on self-help and working through existential dilemmas through laughter.

It has been important for him to create music that people can relate to and find humor in amongst the mundane daily routines and time schedules many people are subject to, he said.

Some of the tracks on Beyond Beauty feature voices of Televangelists speaking down to members of their audience paired with serine soundscapes of synths and guitar. A juxtaposition that Ketzner saidis far less thought provoking than relatable.

The object of his music is not to obliterate the eardrum, he said. It’s more about bringing the listener on a journey. Past projects created by this wiz include a soundtrack titled Trash Man, which conveys a feeling of helplessness with a focus on garbage and recycling, he said. The corresponding film has taken a position on the backburner as Beyond Beauty, Thomas Agora and other projects have been delivered to the forefront of Ketzner’s productive endeavors.

Ketzner’s favorite aspect about experimental music is that it stimulates his mind, something he works on regularly. He has dedicated himself to more than 20 projects and composed eight albums, most coming within the last few years.

MORE DETAILS

Check out Keenan Ketzner’s music at keenanketzner.bandcamp.com.

Published in the June 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine