Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Smile Smile keyboardist Jencey Keeton explores music as art in new project
She is now creating music under the moniker French 75.
Keeton formed half of the Dallas-based musical duo, Smile Smile, with which she released three critically acclaimed albums including 2012's Marry a Stranger. The group also toured the country three times and took their music international, playing concerts in Canada and developing a large fan base in the United Kingdom.
However, when Smile Smile called it quits earlier this year, Keeton began to work on music for French 75, a new project she said allows her to more fully express herself.
"This music is a lot more free and there is more room to play with the music as art," she said. "I have never really had the freedom to work on all [areas of the music], so I want to put together a really interactive live show that is unlike anything I have done before."
Smile Smile's signature sound was crafted by Keeton, who played keyboards, and Ryan Hamilton, who played guitar. The songs did not fit easily into a single musical genre, but could be loosely described as folk music. While the electronic music Keeton is making under the French 75 banner is far different than what she crafted with Smile Smile, she said people who listen carefully to her previous work will not be surprised to hear what she is producing now.
"If you listen to the solo music Ryan is putting out, and then you listen to mine, you hear Smile Smile pulled apart," she said. "In his you hear all the folk and all the Americana, and in mine you hear the pop parts."
Keeton said part of the fun of French 75 is that all the music is recorded in her home studio, with her husband contributing on electronic drums and other musicians pitching in when needed. While Keeton is the driving force behind the songs, she said she is looking forward to working with other musicians and seeing what they can bring to her songs.
FRENCH 75 - PAY ATTENTION
The first French 75 single, "Pay Attention," is being released Monday on Keeton's website. It, as well as the second single scheduled for an August 1 release, will be available for free. A five-song EP is also scheduled for a late fall release, which will be distributed through more traditional musical channels such as iTunes.
"I am encouraging people to send the first two songs to their friends, share them with each other, and do with them what they want to," she said. "I think the whole purpose of this was to share the music that I create."
Smile Smile was also known for their artistic music videos, something that will also play a prominent role in French 75.
"The idea is to create a story with the first video that will continue through all the songs," Keeton said. "I am not sure if it will be all five songs, but we already have the first two videos planned out."
For Keeton, who began playing piano in second grade and first made electronic music while in middle school by remixing songs off the radio using multiple tape recorders, the release of the French 75 single is the first step in a new musical journey. While the journey has no pre-determined course, it will be a true expression of how far Keeton has come as a songwriter since her days growing up in Plano.
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