Kiefer began playing piano as a child and producing beats at around age 12, moving from San Diego to L.A. to study under renowned jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell at UCLA’s Jazz Studies program. There, he started thinking about the connection between the jazz piano he studied and the beats he was creating outside of school. He has already lent his production talents to an array of musicians including Kaytranada and Anderson .Paak, and his debut record KickinIt Alone (released in 2017 via Stones Throw’s experimental Leaving Records imprint) earned a Best Jazz Album nomination from A2IM.
Happysad is a 13-track collection of standalone instrumentals that are said to "showcase both Kiefer’s piano chops and knack for improvisation." He describes the album as “my emotional journal of the last year."
"I struggle emotionally a lot, and yet I feel pretty damn good much of the time. This album is focused on both joy and sadness, and how they are always intertwined," he says.
Whereas Kickinit Alone was “90% focused on all types of sadness,” Happysad is more complex. The track titles are deliberately left open to interpretation; opening on a confident, blissful note, then segueing into a more dynamic mood before entering a deeper, darker, and more ethereal place.
The inspirations range from label mates Karriem Riggins and Knxwledge to jazz titans Herbie Hancock and Bill Evans, illustrating how his music straddles the worlds of jazz and beats. “I've loved the sense of responsibility that comes with being a jazz musician,” he says, “The responsibility to study and understand its history, to respect the discipline of an instrument, and to dedicate your career to positively changing the direction of the music.”
01. Dope Nerd
02. What a Day
03. Highway 46
04. Highway 41
06. Socially Awkward
07. Memories of U
08. Thinkin of
Happysad LP will land on June 8, with "AAAAA" streaming in full below—or here for EU readers due to temporary GDPR restrictions.