While comparatively few people have witnessed Kevin Keith’s virtuosity on the rare Chapman Stick, nearly anybody exposed to popular culture within the last ten years has probably heard his work. A composer for Warner Bros. Television and Universal Music Group, Keith has written music for more than 50 national shows, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Tyra, The People’s Court, and The Bachelor. His work can be heard on MTV, VH1, ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as on History and The Discovery Channel.
Keith’s list of audio-engineering credits is as impressive as his television career. He has been trusted to mix live television performances by such major acts as Taylor Swift, Nelly Furtado, Seal, Lionel Richie, Outkast, and Ziggy Marley.
Beginning on guitar at the age of eight, Keith added instruments as the years rolled on. By age 18, he was proficient in bass, bass violin, piano, and vocals. He had also entered the University of Arizona as a performance/composition major—and picked up his trademark Chapman Stick along the way.
After a couple years of school, Keith had a rough touring experience that included his Chapman Stick being stolen, a litigious band breakup, carpal tunnel syndrome, and strained vocal cords. He returned to school to study electrical engineering, which primed him for a career in the recording arts. He soon moved to Los Angeles, worked for Neve for five years, and then moved on to work as an audio engineer, which he’s been doing ever since. And he still finds some time to devote to his new Chapman Stick.
Keith chooses PreSonus hardware and software for his work with Warner Bros. Television. “Years ago a friend turned me on to the FaderPort,” he explains. “So when I heard about Studio One, I was curious. I was honestly a bit skeptical at first because the price was so low, I assumed it wouldn't have the features I needed—but I was proven wrong! Studio One is now my secret weapon because it does so much.”
Keith is quick to reference the multitude of applications he’s found for Studio One Professional. “I've mixed over 120 different music acts to date: Seal, Taylor Swift, Outkast, you name it,” he notes. “As a composer, I write music for TV shows, so I use Studio One to create music beds and write songs. It’s an awesome composition tool. I also use it for sound design for commercial spots. It's great for audio editing and sweetening as well.
“As a performing musician, I'm currently working on integrating the Ampire XT plug-in to use with Chapman Stick,” he continues. “That's really been cool.” He has even surprised some of his peers with his work in Studio One. “I've used the native multiband compressors and limiters as finishing tools on many of my televised mixes. None of my audio buddies believed those mixes came from Studio One until I opened the session files and showed them!”
His reasons for choosing Studio One reach beyond the creative, however. Usability and efficiency are also top priorities. “First and foremost, it sounds great,” Keith begins. “Secondly, it requires very little CPU horsepower from my laptop, and it’s really stable. Third, Speed, speed, speed! It takes fewer steps to accomplish the same tasks than with other DAWs, so it’s faster to use. And it’s cheaper.
“Last but not least, PreSonus has a ton of online resources and excellent product support,” he concludes. “I make my living with music and sound, so I only work with products and companies that I can depend on.”