Ticket feature: Musician learned art from father

Courtesy photo Jeremy Montoya was born in Portales and grew up in Clovis in a home filled with music, which led him into making his own music as an independent hip-hop and R&B artist.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Jeremy Montoya prefers to be called J.T. or Keize.

Keize comes from his love of the keyboard, which he taught himself how to play at 16.

Montoya grew up in a musical home as a child in Clovis. His father, Ray Montoya, has been a musician all his life and J.T. watched and listened to band practices and shows.

Montoya said he learned how to record by watching his father record on tapes. He joined the band at age 17, playing keyboards. Ray Montoya said his son was always interested in the instruments in their home.

“He would just pick one up and start playing,” Montoya said.

But J.T.’s dedication to music didn’t become 100 percent until health problems forced him to quit sports in eighth grade.

“Now music is 100 percent for him. It’s his life. It’s his career. And he does really good at it,” the father said.

J.T. Montoya put together his first project at age 17, but decided it wasn’t good enough for a first impression.

At 19, the budding musician said he headed to audio engineering school in Phoenix, Ariz., so he could learn the technical side of recording music.

But he learned to compose music by watching his father’s band.

“I studied how people put things together,” he said. “And it never left me.”

Now, after working with several noted hip-hop and R&B artists on different projects, Montoya is looking for a place to market himself.

He is living in Nashville, Tenn., but plans to move back to Phoenix because the Hispanic market is larger there, he said.

Montoya said it’s difficult to be unique when you’re working in hip-hop and R&B, but he plans to be as unique as he can be.

“Sometimes you want to make a certain sound to appeal to a certain demographic. Like if I’m working on a club song, I’ll throw in a melody just to change it up a bit,” the 22-year-old said.

While many independent artists are looking for a label, Montoya is looking for a fan base first.

“The deal will be better if people already know and like me,” he said.

Montoya is headed in the right direction. He was named one of the Top 40 Unsigned Artists by Guitar World Magazine in 2008. Montoya said the magazine is planning a tour with the artists on the list, and he can’t wait for the opportunity.

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