Posted by Christopher Will on 04/25 at 07:49 PM
If you’re a Penn State student, you might have seen Keegan Tawa around campus, walking to class or eating lunch in the HUB, dressed in his Air Force ROTC uniform or his civilian clothes. But on Friday at 3 p.m., you’ll see him standing on the Movin’ On Stage, tearing through the air with deep, guttural, basslines and jaw-dropping dance beats.
Tawa, a sophomore studying computer engineering, is a DJ/EDM artist who will be opening Movin’ On. He will be kicking off the Penn State music festival with his own brand of electro-house. Though his talents as an Electronic Dance Music artist were impressive enough to land him the opening spot, Tawa says that his musical beginnings were based in much different genres. He played saxophone all throughout elementary, middle, and high school. He also played in a jazz quartet and a reggae band. It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that his eyes were opened to dance music and production.
“I studied digital production my senior year and got really into it,” Tawa said. “I started fooling around with producing and DJing.” From there, he said his legitimacy as a DJ became increasingly public.
“I was getting requests to DJ freshman year, and then it really took off especially with producing and writing my own stuff.”
For his tracks, he draws from a wide variety of musical influences. “I’ve always played a ton of jazz,” Tawa said. “A lot of my subliminal influences and compositions come from my classical and contemporary training and jazz background.” He also cites EDM artists such as Zedd, Porter Robinson, Infected Mushroom, and Wolfgang Gartner as influences, particularly Wolfgang Gartner.
“He [Gartner] has a very definite style, which I think is the mark of a really good musician.”
Tawa’s latest track, “7 Billion Hearts,” is electro-house to the core. It kicks off with a simple piano riff, as the keys reverberate above the rushing synthetic chords. The song then drops off like a cliff, plummeting into a dank, muddy bassline. Later on, the track turns a bit more upbeat, as the piano keys skip across spunky, crunching synthesizers. The remaining minute and a half of the song is driven by funky, daft-punk esque production.
Tawa stated that the track, like most of his other work, came into being on the fly. “I was in my room on fruity loops, screwing around, and I started playing a piano part,” he said. “I was like ‘ooh that’s good.’ I played around some more and ended up writing a piano line. Then I started writing some synths around it and a baseline.” Though he makes it sound easy, Tawa said there’s a lot more to producing a track than just “playing around.”
“There’s so much that goes into producing a track, with sound waves, compressing, limiting, frequencies, and sound spectrum.” And what exactly is it about dance music that Tawa finds so fascinating?
“It’s kind of like the new ‘rock n’ roll’,” Tawa said. “It’s totally new and groundbreaking. Developments in music production technology in the age of digitization are insane. Electronic dance music to the degree we know it now was impossible 10 years ago.”
To prove that point, one need only to listen to his music. His track “Gravitate” builds and breaks with such groovy momentum that it sounds straight out of a set of some of EDM’s greatest producers and DJs. But Keegan Tawa doesn’t need tens of thousands of dollars worth of expensive equipment to make his sweaty club music. He just uses his exceptional talent.
Who does Tawa think is the forefront pioneer of Electronic Dance Music in mainstream music? Believe it or not, David Guetta.
“He’s an amazing producer and no one can argue that. He’s bringing pop music into the electronic music spectrum, and EDM is mainstream now because of people like David Guetta.” He said that, though Guetta is not his favorite producer by any means, he has a lot of respect for him and frequently uses his album Nothing But The Beat when he DJs at clubs and parties.
Tawa said he wants to focus primarily on his own compositions, but would definitely be interested in producing with a vocalist.
“If a really good singer wanted me to produce an instrumental for them, I’d probably do it,” he said. “I’d also love to find a vocalist who would sing for me; it’d definitely be a good opportunity and a fun experience.”
Tawa said on Friday his fans should expect a lot of new pieces mixed in with some of his more familiar work.
“The set is going to be 50% originals no one’s ever heard before, 40% originals people have heard, and then some other stuff. I’ll probably open with a huge anthem banger to get things started.”
Make sure you check out Keegan Tawa’s impressive material on his Soundcloud page, and get ready to dance your face off to his awesome music Friday afternoon at 3 p.m!
Author: Christopher Will
Bio: Christopher Will is a junior studying Communications and English at Penn State. He enjoys scouring the internet for the latest pop music news and gossip, and loves sharing new music with his friends and peers. Some of his favorite artists include Breathe Carolina, Fun., Childish Gambino, Gotye, Yellowcard, and Robyn.
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