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Covering the favorites: Independent artist Keller Williams’ new album reinterprets favorites


Songwriter Keller Williams recently released the album “Speed,” which he covers some of his favorite songs. (Courtesy of Taylor Crothers)

That’s the number of albums singer-songwriter Keller Williams has released to date.

“Believe it or not, it’s not about quantity,” Williams says. “I’ve been lucky the last couple of years to be energetic when it comes to recording.”

Williams’ latest album is “Speed” is out on Friday, Nov. 22.

The record features Williams with his bluegrass outfit, Keller & The Keels, as they reinterpret popular songs by celebrated artists including The Doors, Kacey Musgraves, Fiona Apple, Weezer and more.

“The cover picks me,” he says of the process. “With this album, these are songs that have been kicking around in my head. Playing with the Keels takes it to another level.”

Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Williams has defined the term independent artist.

And his recordings tell only half the story.

Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike.

With the use of today’s technology, Keller creates samples on the fly in front of the audience, a technique called live phrase sampling or looping, with nothing pre-recorded.

“Being on stage is everything for me,” he says. “It’s the reason I travel to get to gigs. It’s the reason I make music. Being on stage is the live presentation of all of the hard work.”

When it comes to releasing albums, Williams is prolific.

He’s also on restriction from releasing more albums.

“Since I’m an independent artist, everything comes out of my pocket,” he says. “I have to make sure that the albums from the last couple of years continue to sell. I’m taking a break of sorts to properly tour for all of them. I think it’s a good hesitation.”

Williams hasn’t played in Santa Fe for a few years and he’s looking forward to getting back.

He will perform at Meow Wolf on Friday, Nov. 22.

“I often take way too much time on a set list than I should,” he says. “Usually, I’ll look at the city where I’m playing. In this case, it’s been so long since I’ve been in Santa Fe, so everything is on the table. I try not to repeat myself.”

Williams admits that he doesn’t write daily. It’s difficult when he does about 110 shows a year.

“I get to be home three days a week,” he says. “I act on impulses and when little hooks hit me, I’ll pull out my phone and put it in the hooks section. There are songs in my voice memos.”

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