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Mad Keys | Take the Leap | Quantum Audio Interfaces

The self-taught multi-instrumentalist and St. Louis native talks about taking his leap.

A life in music requires passion, creativity, and dedication – and for many creators, their trajectory can be traced back to a defining moment that changed everything: the moment they took the leap.

St. Louis native Mad Keys is a multi-instrumentalist and alt hip-hop producer whose soul-heavy sound has led to two full-lengths, four EPs, and a substantial selection of singles drenched in lush melodics and groove-heavy rhythms. As a self-taught musician, the key takeaways from Mad Keys’ musical journey have been “the importance of perseverance, the value of taking risks, and the power of community.”

Watch as Mad Keys performs his unreleased track “Powered” through the all-new PreSonus Quantum ES 4 audio interface, and talks about his creative process, teaching himself to play piano, and how cooking up a song is a lot like brewing a great cup of coffee.

When it comes to writing music, Brandon McCadney – aka Mad Keys – aims to strike a balance between time-honored processes and a fundamental openness to whatever excites him at the moment. “I’m definitely a process-driven person, and that shows up in a lot of areas in my life. But my process changes a bit each time I sit down to create. It truly depends on what I’m inspired by at the moment.”

It’s a balanced, contemplative approach that Mad Keys is quick to compare with another of his favorite daily processes. “For me, making a great cup of coffee is kind of like sitting down to create a song. In both cases, I have a routine that requires me to have patience and focus.”

Keys was raised in a musical family and learned to play violin when he was just 9 years old – a move that would introduce him to classical elements of discipline and melodic instrumentation at a very early age. But it wasn’t until high school that he discovered hip-hop and jazz. “I was listening to what everyone else was listening to: Gucci Mane, Jeezy, and Lil Wayne. I’m thankful for my brother and sister because they introduced me to artists like OutKast, N.E.R.D., Kanye, Lupe, and Santigold.”

One day, he heard a friend playing Coldplay’s “Trouble” on piano, and was immediately captured by the sound. When he asked his friend how he figured it out, “he told me that he learned how to play that song from a video on YouTube. So, I went home, turned on this old keyboard, opened up the tutorial, and learned that song. It was at that moment when I said ‘Yo, I can learn how to play piano!’”

Being an independent artist certainly has its share of ups and downs, and none more so than during the global pandemic. “There was a pivotal moment in 2020 when I almost gave up on music. My wife and I had just moved to a new city in the middle of the pandemic, and I felt lost. I remember telling bae that I might put music on the back burner. But that same night, I received several signs urging me to persevere. I decided to start creating visuals of myself making music in my room, not knowing where it would lead. I had no idea that the next 4 years would lead to building a growing community of supporters, producers, and creatives.”

Four years and several soulful albums later, Mad Keys continues to grow and develop as a musician. But his aspirations go far beyond mere technical improvement, serving a deeper purpose as a vehicle for personal growth and a daily reminder of the power in community: “My sonic leap wasn’t just about honing my talent: it was about learning to bet on myself and embrace the unknown.”

PreSonus products used: PreSonus Quantum ES 4 USB-C Audio Interface, PreSonus ATOM Controller.
Meet the all-new family of Quantum USB-C Recording Audio Interfaces, and get in-depth information about the entire product line here.