Interview: John Keenan - Mind of a Madman II

Interview: John Keenan - Mind of a Madman II


John Keenan is a rapper and producer who is known for his thought- provoking lyrics and unique approach to hip-hop. Born in Great Bend, Kansas, John discovered his musical talent at a young age and began honing his craft with brother Mark. After attending Kansas State University where he developed his skills as an artist, writer, producer, and engineer, he released his first mixtape, "Mind of a Madman,." He released his first EP, "One Day At A Time" in 2011 followed by his debut album, "Where I Went Wrong," which interlaces R&B with other aural derivations. In 2013, he released, "Imagination to the Nation," his sophomore album, before moving to Phoenix, Arizona, where he began working on his third album, "The Illusion of Logic."
By Kamil Bobin

Hello John Keenan. What strengths do you have that you believe make you a great musician?

I don’t believe I’m particularly talented, I just try and be really persistent and consistent and over time it has just added up I think.

Who inspired you to make music?

A ton of people have and still do inspire me. My brother Mark and Grandma have probably been my biggest influences. My Grandma is a classical composer and I’ve been making songs with my brother for 20 years now.

Your latest release is 'Mind of a Madman II'. Can you share with us the background of its creation and did any unusual things happen during its creation?

Mind of a Madman II was a side project while I was making this album called “Wreckage of the Past.” I’ve been working on “Wreckage of the Past” for four years. I got the courage to quit my job to finish it and the whole thing imploded on me in September. It wasn’t ready and totally fell apart. I had some deadlines to meet and this totally different thing, “Mind of a Madman II” just materialized. It was very unusual. I didn’t plan on making it really, it was more of a side project.

Can you shortly describe each of the tracks that are on the album?

Some stick out to me more than others off the top of my head. The song about cryptocurrency was a disaster. I wrote it with my vocal coach and went all over Phoenix trying to mix it. I coudn’t get the mix right, no one I hired could. Robert Rebeck absolutely nailed it. I really was put through the wringer with that song. It was like a thorn in my side for a year. “Still In Love” pops out too. I made that in secret and I never thought anyone would ever hear it.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest musical trends?

I don’t follow musical trends at all. I want to do the exact opposite of whatever is trendy. I’m wearing a suit on the cover partially for that reason. You don’t see young men in suits. I rarely wear suits, but I wanted to try and portray the exact opposite of what we typically see.

What do you feel is the best song that you have ever released and why?

I think, “The Journey” from my first album, “Where I Went Wrong” in 2012 because it’s so raw and real. It was my last beat using Reason. It was shot in my sober living room. It really shows a time in my life in an honest way.

Why do you want to record and release your own music?

Sometimes I don’t know if I want to. I like the challenge of it. I like to bring ideas to fruition and see projects through. I think I find God in music or something. Like maybe a melody or phrase or something, every once in awhile, pops through and for a moment you catch something you feel is from somewhere else.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans.

I think it’s weird. I don’t see how anyone could be a fan. I don’t even know what I’m doing. I just try and be nice and say thank you, redirect the conversation to them if I can.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Follow your heart. Forget the money or fame or any of that nonsense. Have fun, don’t overthink everything like I have. Take more risks than I have. Let it unfold as it wants.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m hopefully done planning. My plans suck and never work. I’m trying to get out of the planning business. I didn’t plan this album. Everything is out of my control.