Keyan Houshmand was no slouch on the guitar when he became part of Blackfriars’ music program in 2013 – as a trumpeter.
“I actually got the music scholarship that year and they put me on trumpet, funnily enough. I auditioned for the scholarship with guitar … and I got given trumpet!” Keyan says.
“Around Year 10 or 11, I went back onto guitar.”
It was a good move. The instrumental metal guitarist has just released his debut album, Gradient, which he will officially launch at Lion Arts Factory on Friday 18 March.
Keyan was given his first guitar on his 5th birthday.
“It was like one of those really cheap, acoustic ones that just comes in a starter kit. It’s not like anyone forced me to play it, I just really liked it,” says Keyan, who has had more than 3 million views on YouTube and whose music has been played on national radio station Triple J.
His journey towards becoming a serious musician started while he was still a student at Blackfriars.
“In Year 11, my Research Project was on how to compose a hard rock composition, in terms of actually recording it, producing it on the computer. During that time, I was really getting into home recording … but I was really just scratching the surface,” says Keyan, who last year completed a Bachelor of Information Technology at UniSA.
“In 2017, I started a separate Instagram just to post guitar clips on … and at the beginning it was just all friends and family … but it grew.
“Around 2019, 2020 … my name was being mentioned in the same pool as all of my favourite guitar players, which was a bit bamboozling at the time, considering that this was just coming out of a 3×3 bedroom.”
That small bedroom has led to big success for Keyan, who continues to write, record, produce, mix and master all his music from home.
“A lot of people from a lot of countries watch my YouTube channel and they’re under the impression that this is some big production thing, and I can get my hands on anything and do a video on it, but that’s absolutely not the case. I’m still just a guy in his room making videos.”
Reflecting on his time at Blackfriars, Keyan has no doubt of the benefits of being part of the school’s music program.
“As we went up in the years and saw people that were literally just starting on the instruments (in Year 8), there were some absolute killer players by the time Year 12 hit,” he says.
And he has some advice for any current or future students.
“The most important thing with anything – not just the music program, but everything at Blackfriars – is just to take it all in while you’re there,” says Keyan, who is still close friends with mates from his Blackfriars days.
“Playing in a big band, meeting new friends; there is something special about all playing instruments together, towards one end goal. And that only really lasts while you’re at school, and not many people realise that.
“So, enjoy it, enjoy playing with your friends because, honestly, not a lot of people can say that they’ve been in a position to do something like that.”
Keyan Houshmand Gradient EP launch, Lion Arts Factory, Friday 18 March, 7.30pm. Tickets (18+) from Moshtix.