Cultured Carrots: A Jam Session with Mike Keismanby Carrot
Welcome to the first edition of Cultured Carrots. In this new series, we'll connect with amazing people from across the company to discuss some of the things they’re passionate about. The Carrot office is filled with colorful characters and it’s a thril to share their stories here. For our maiden post, we sat down with analytics manager Mike Keisman to talk about his love of music. Spoiler alert: he’s pretty into jam bands.
Carrot: What do you like to listen to?
Mike Keisman: The shit that gets me is improvisational music. So stuff that’s not scripted, breaks the regular mold of verse-chorus, chorus-verse. I like stuff that shows emotion through the music, not necessarily singing. You can’t predict what’s going to come out. It comes from the heart, from your insides and that’s what really gets me. I really think that improvisational music attaches itself to the soul of a person especially the person playing it, whether it’s a guy like Jerry Garcia or Duane Allman or Derek Trucks. And a lot of the improvisational music nowadays, like the jam band stuff, has its roots in bluegrass and jazz. You know, guys like Miles Davis and John Coltrane were playing nothing scripted and right from the heart. I find that to be exhilarating.
C: What goes through your head emotionally when you’re listening to some music you can really vibe to?
M: I’ve always felt that your music should complement the mood you’re in. It’s like when you’re feeling bad you want to listen to sad music because it kind of says there are other people out there who are feeling that way and you can connect yourself with that person. You’d think that you’d want to listen to happy music when you’re sad but you don’t. Jam bands will jam and they’ll go from one segment to another to basically get what’s known in music as tension release. You know, building up solos and minor notes into major notes and minor keys into major keys really get that tension and release. That tension, it makes you feel weird inside. But you get to the end of the song and everything gets better and you release into a nice G chord and you’re like [sighs] alright everything’s good. And that’s where it taps so many emotions for me.
C: What do you like about a live concert experience?
M: A lot. Everything. I go to a lot of shows and see a lot of the same bands a lot. So I’ve seen 50 Phish shows, I’ve seen 25 Umphrey’s [McGee] shows. I’ll go to Brooklyn Bowl to just see music because the vibes, the energy, and the people are something that I really like. That’s why I gravitated towards the jam scene a lot. The best thing about a good concert experience is that everyone is on the same page, tuned into the band. The band wants everyone to have a good time and everyone around you wants you to have a good time. Good vibes, good venues. I think we’re lucky enough to have one of the best venues for that kind of music - Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg just always has that good music.
C: Do you play any music yourself?
M: Yeah I’m a guitarist. I like to play anything I can learn. I’m self-taught basically so I can’t really read or write music. But I know my scales and I like to solo over jammy stuff. I always found it tough to just play two minutes to a song and then be done with it. And that was probably subconsciously how I got into jam music because I’d put on an 18-minute song and it won’t end and you just keep playing. You’re learning scales and you’re learning what chords go with what segments. How do you get from this key to this key? That’s probably why that happened. But yeah I like long jazzy and funky stuff - funk songs are good.
C: What kind of stuff do you listen to during the workday?
M: Music without words. So once again, jams. I have a playlist that’s jam music. All the songs are longer than 16 minutes and they’re all really good, so I can just put that on. The playlist is probably days long because it’s like 100 songs of 15 minutes plus. You listen to “Mountain Jam” by Allman Brothers Band, then 30 minutes pass and you’re like, “Where was I? Lost inside of my spreadsheet.” Some lighter electronic stuff, some jammier jam-tronica stuff as they call it. What am I listening to right now? I don’t know, everything. Probably Grateful Dead. Easy stuff.