Born and brought up in Karama, Dubai, Keba Jeremiah Arul started playing music at the age of 7. Ironically, this guitarist was forced into taking keyboard lessons as a kid. Keba started off on the acoustic guitar and later branched out to the keyboard and drums along with his two brothers. Playing for audiences was something Keba began doing at the age of ten, starting off at various Church programmes and other Christian events. Perhaps this is why Christian music still remains an integral component of Keba’s musical career.
His next platform was the school band: this is when Keba started trying his hand at the bass guitar. As the guitarist of the Our Own English School band, he won awards at various inter-school level competitions. These experiences taught Keba the different nuances of playing as part of a band and laid the foundation for various collaborations that were to come. Studying music was his next plan of action, but fate, it seemed, had other plans.
Keba found himself getting ready to pursue a professional engineering degree in India and soon moved lock, stock and guitar to Hindustan College of Engineering, Chennai. In many ways, this seemingly uncharacteristic step away from music set in motion various events the led Keba to the musical career he’d always dreamed of. Upon landing in India in 2004, Keba started playing at the New Life Assemblies of God Church, Sunday after Sunday, and it was here that he first got his weekly dose of inspiration, watching various leading musicians in the city at work. It was around this time that the bass guitar became his new muse. Keba spent hours jamming with friends and experimenting with different sounds and styles. One such impromptu session led to the birth of the Fire Frenzy, a Christian band that which consisted of Keba and his college mates. Though he didn’t realize it at the time, playing at Church and with friends jump-started his musical journey in India.
In 2005, Keba took a cautious bite of yet another musical pie- another branch of music that allowed him to ‘give back’ and learn at the same time-teaching music to an enthusiastic group of students that comprised of everyone, from toddlers to seasoned senior citizens. For about 4 years, he taught music at the Institute of Music Technology, Chennai, run by John Satya, another musician in the city. Not only did he enjoy teaching, but was also to inspired push himself beyond his comfort zone.
Meandering along the music path, Keba also claimed another musical milestone- film music. In 2008, he played for music director James Vasanthan, on the sound track for the Tamil film Subramaniyapuram, which won various awards and critical acclaim for its music. Keba then went on to work for the likes of Yuvan Shankar Raja, Manikanth Kadri, Harris Jeyaraj, Ousapachan and the Madras Maestro himself- A. R Rahman. Working with each of these musical directors was a learning experience in itself, and helped Keba grow as a guitarist in leaps and bounds. Over the last 3 years, Keba has accumulated an impressive repertoire of Tamil and Hindi films including Paiya, Pasanga, Engeyum Kadhal, Savari, 3 Kings, Avan Ivan, Mangatha, 3, Action Replay, Rockstar and Ek Deewana Tha.
Not one to leave any avenues of music unexplored, Keba has also played at various live shows collaborating with artists like Leslie Lewis, Naresh Iyer and Vijay Prakash and Christian artists like Don Moen, Bob Fits, Steve Kuban and Sean Michael. He has also lent his musical talent for different television shows and music competitions like Airtel Super Singer, Sun Tv’s Ooo La La.. and Vijay TV’s Kadhal Unplugged.
Keba works on a lot of experimental music and plans to dedicate a lot more time working on unplugged music. He is currently working on his own album and plans to infuse it with the different styles of music he has perfected over the years. His playing style is greatly influenced by jazz, rock, R n B and acoustic styles of music. The man who makes music must take a break some time, and when he unwinds, Keba’s playlist includes music from different genres- Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Four play, Nikelback, Metallica, Lincoln Brewster, Jeremy Camp, Michael W. Smith and Jimmy Needham being some of his current favourites.
Be it playing live at a concert or in the controlled environs of a studio, irrespective of the style of music, Keba treats each new song, each familiar note as a brand new experience- his tribute to the art form and his secret to being a musician who is constantly evolving.
A musician who strives to make mellifluous music every moment.