The Education of Denver Musician Keegan De La Torre | Westword

The Education of Keegan De La Torre

The nineteen-year-old Broomfield musician plays the Roxy Theatre on Saturday, June 22.
Keegan De La Torre is still growing his one-man act live.
Keegan De La Torre is still growing his one-man act live. Courtesy Michael D
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Local artist Keegan De La Torre only introduced audiences to his musical personality, Mr. K, earlier this year when he released his debut album of the same name, but the nineteen-year-old Broomfield beatmaker is already leaving that personality behind little by little each show.

“I’ve been wanting to stray away from the character Mr. K a little bit,” he says, adding that the record was “meant to be played as a story" about Mr. K's "rise and fall.”

Since his first performance in March, De La Torre is focused on making more and more new music, including previously unreleased tunes that he’s only been playing live. As he sees it, the more he writes, the more the music feels authentic.

“For this album, I really want to start focusing on myself as the character,” he explains. “That seems a little corny, but I want to start expressing myself more in that and writing more around my experiences. That’s been feeling a lot more natural to me. It seems a lot more organic.”
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Keegan De La Torre loves his keys and bass.
Courtesy Ren
As an audio production student at CU Denver, De La Torre oversees every aspect of his music and is quick to make adjustments wherever he sees fit. He even watches videos of his concerts and critiques each performance. “As I’ve been writing more, my stuff has been getting better, so I’ve been liking playing those songs more. I think people have been enjoying them a lot more, too,” he says.

“It definitely sounds a lot more polished," he continues. "It’s still the same music, the same vibe, but like, this is Keegan.”

His next show is Saturday, June 22, at the Roxy Theatre, presented by Qoncert Presents; local band Boys With Blue is also on the bill.

Before De La Torre began making hip-hop-heavy pop, he was a bassist in a handful of high school metal bands. That background, along with his penchant for playing keys and jazz, gives his music a certain burst and catchiness. “Him and We,” “Manic” and “Spain” show off De La Torre’s personal flow and unique range. “A big thing for me is the vocals. I really like the rhythmic intricacy of rapping and how the phrasing comes together with the music and sits really well, as opposed to singing,” he says. “I felt it really fit with my style and what I like doing.”

There are the pros and cons of being a solo artist, though, from a quicker workflow to shaping an engaging live show. “Personally, I really like being able to sit down alone in my room and make stuff,” he says. “But I think it’s a different dynamic live, just because my first couple of shows, I was just playing with tracks, so I was the only one up there. When you’re the only one up there, it’s like a standup comedian. It’s really tough capturing the audience as one dude standing up there. There was definitely a big learning curve to it, as opposed to just being the bassist and having many other elements that keep the audience engaged.”

Other than playing his new tunes live, De La Torre is bringing more musicians into the fold and filling out a band for live shows. “The way that it’s changed has just been crazy,” he says of his performances. “The way that I interact with the audience and even what I say in between songs and stuff like that, and the way I perform the songs, my movements and dances — it’s all been a constant learning process.

“I feel as though I have been going through that really quickly and learning a lot from each show that I’ve done,” he adds.

Now, as he heads into his sophomore year, De La Torre is already looking past graduation. “I really think in the next five years, music is kind of an ambiguous thing, and you can’t really know exactly where you’ll be at in the next five years, as is life, but I really want to just keep doing music,” he concludes. “I want to have another couple albums in five years, and I want to keep playing shows and grow my local audience."

Keegan De La Torre, 7 p.m. Saturday, June 22, Roxy Theatre, 2549 Welton Street. Tickets are $20.
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