Written by Fatima Hasan
Taking a wildly unique perspective on electronic music, Keaton Prescott (“Sullivan King”) has made a name for himself by fusing the genre of metal with dubstep. After graduating from ICON Collective (a music production school in California that has trained other artists like Jauz, Protohype, NGHTMRE, Kayzo, and LUMBERJVCK) Sullivan King has taken the music industry by storm by blending genres in unprecedented ways. Most recently, his first festival performance was at Lost Lands 2017, on that same weekend, he even joined Destroid on stage during their set to sing one of his original tracks.
Where are you from? What’s the music scene like near your hometown?
“I’m from Los Angeles California. That’s an interesting question because the music scene over there, it’s like everyone does their own thing. Everybody I knew listened to something different. Obviously, everyone knew about the top 40 hits, but there wasn’t much of a particular scene. It was really just a big Melting Pot, which is what made it so cool.”
When you were growing up there, did you find that you were particularly attending metal shows?
“Somewhat, yeah. I didn’t really start going to a lot of shows until I became a bit older, around 17 or 18. The first few shows that I went to were definitely metal shows; Bullet for My Valentine, Chiodos, a lot of those kinds of post-hardcore / metal core bands.”
You came up with the stage name of Sullivan King by combining two names, one of which is Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan from Avenged sevenfold and Redlight King. How did these artists influence you?
“Growing up, these two bands really influenced my sound, songwriting, and playing. I really wanted to do something that would pay homage to that background. I also knew that I wanted to come up with a stage name that actually sounded like a real name rather than just a single word or something abstract. I wanted people to be able to call me ‘Sully’ or other nicknames based off of my stage name. I also wanted my name to feel super natural for kids to say out loud. I knew pretty early on that I was going to go with Sullivan from ‘The Rev’, and then I played around with the word ‘King’. I honestly just thought it would sound cool and then decided to officially settle on it when I really started getting into Redlight King. I thought it would just be a great last name. The two bands also play very different sounds, which added to the more eclectic background of the name rather than it being solely based in metal.”
What initially sparked your interest in attending ICON?
“I wasn’t really sure that I was going to become an electronic music producer. I was 18 and at that pivotal point in my life where I was graduating high school, I had to make the decision whether I would go to college the next four years or double down and focus on my music. I had heard about ICON from a couple friends before I got there and they were all in love with it. So, I decided I would check it out. Immediately when I stepped foot on campus, when it was like a third of the size it is now, I fell in love instantly. I knew it was where I was going to be. I knew it was going to be the launch pad, or the foundation, of my musical career. That’s kind of where and when it all started… September 1, 2012.”
How old were you when you made your first track?
“I started writing songs when I was about 12 or 13 years old. At that point, I was kind of just putting things together, making things up in my head, featuring vocals, figuring out how things would sound mostly. So, I did a lot of songwriting but they weren’t actual productions by any means. I didn’t start making legitimate productions the way they should be made until I was at ICON.
A lot of my new material is actually from my work back when I was like 16 and 18. The song that just came out on Kannibalen Records called ‘Don’t Care’, the opening riff for that was something I wrote when I was 16 years old. It was put on the back burner until now. It’s really cool that like, seven years later, I actually have a use for it.”
On the electronic music side, who would you name as your biggest inspiration?
“Anything Rob Swire, 100%. The dude is just an absolute God. In the beginning, I’d have to say that my biggest influences were Rob, Chase & Status, and Nero. ‘Welcome Reality’ was just such a game-changing record for me. It really is highlighted how many rock elements can be brought and incorporated into electronic music. That was really cool for me from the get-go.”
At this point, you’ve experienced having top tracks on Beatport and have been steadily moving forward with your career in the music industry. Do you have a certain end goal?
No, I’m kidding. I don’t really have an end goal. Music is something that is always changing, there’s always going to be a new game to play. I think it’s cool to continuously set milestones, but I just couldn’t set a particular goal that I could achieve that I would consider a last hoorah.”
Who has been there the most to support you throughout your career?
“My dad. My wife is great, but my dad is cooler! He’s the one who bought me my first guitar, he supported me through school, you know. Before I took music on full time, I was working at our family company. This was right after I graduated ICON, I was kind of trying to make things happen in music. One day my dad pulled me into his office and told me, “as of tomorrow, you’re fired. You’re going to pursue music because it’s what you love to do and there’s no reason for you to be sitting at a 9-5 job when there’s something else out there that you love a lot more.” So, he’s definitely been the person to light a fire under my ass to make sure that I really get out there. Shout-out to Papa King!”
Who is your favorite musician? Do you have a guilty pleasure artist, album, or song out of your area of focus that you like to turn to?
“Billy Joel is my favorite artist of all time. He’s a madman and one of the greatest songwriters of the last century. Next, I would say my guilty pleasure is Pierce the Veil. There’s a whiny emo side of me that I have to get out sometimes.”
What do you like most about being able to blend music genres through your music?
“I like it most because it gives me tremendous opportunity for creative freedom. I consider it something valuable that’s different from traditional production. Honestly, I enjoy listening to my own music. I feel like a lot of artists nowadays kind of just do the music thing because they can and because they think it’s cool. But it’s not like there’s any real, driven passion behind it. So, I think it’s really awesome because, for me, rock really takes up a lot of who I am and I get to present that to others the way that I do.”
What has been your biggest obstacle navigating through the music industry?
“Remembering that I am responsible for absolutely everything that happens to my career. That’s something that a lot of people also forget. There are moments where I want to blame a manager, another artist, someone who screwed me over, whatever kind of thing it is. It’s very difficult to let something go. At that point, you have to ask yourself: ‘how did I put myself in that situation? How was I responsible for it? What do I need to do to do better next time?’ What I do is my company, my business. It’s ultimately up to me what happens. It’s something that I’ve definitely had to really learn the hard way, for sure.”
What do you like to do in your moments away from traveling, making music, and performing?
“That’s a hard question because literally all I do is travel, listen to music, make music, and perform. That’s my life! Honestly, I love spending time with my family and just getting a chance to hang out. When I’m not traveling, I like to travel but like with my wife and family. I enjoy playing golf, checking out new restaurants. I like to stay as productive and active as possible.”
If you could collab with any artist, who would it be?
“Van Halen, without question. I think that would be the coolest thing. I don’t know if it would go well with fans and stuff like that, but for me personally… THAT would be my end goal! If I could work with Eddie and Alex, that’d be it!”
Is there anything that you are currently working on that you’d like your fans to know about?
“A lot of REALLY awesome music with a lot of REALLY awesome artists that I am very honored to work with. I think there’s going to be releases until pretty much the end of the year. Then planning for tours and shows. Same deal as usual, just bigger and better.”
How do you feel about working in the music industry during an age in which various types of media and social platforms are readily available and highly significant? Do you think this changes how you distribute your work overall?
“The internet is definitely an important element to address when you are in the industry. It has its pros and cons. The big thing that has obviously helped is that you’re able to go out and sort of get inspired by anything. You’re able to feed off people in a positive way by being constantly motivated by their work. But then at the same time, you’re also constantly worried about what everyone else is doing. I think that’s something that you kind of have to break out of, especially in the beginning of things when you’re really trying to discover your sound. It’s so easy to see an artist being successful doing one thing and then hopping on the train hoping for the same results. When I’m writing music, I turn off the Wi-Fi and everything just so I can do my thing. I find this to be an extremely important aspect to songwriting now. I definitely try to isolate myself as much as possible when making music just so I can be away from all the distractions. However, when I was trying to develop my ability to produce, it was really helpful to assess how other tracks worked. It’s valuable to get a sense of what the top dogs are actually doing, but as I progressed I knew that I had to step back to direct my own creativity.”
What’s your favorite animal and why?
“Dogs! Name a better animal than a dog, seriously. About a year into me and my wife living together, I bought her a Chihuahua terrier named Stella. She is probably the quietest and sweetest Chihuahua that has ever existed. Not many people would expect a metal-dubstep producer to have a Chihuahua.”
Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know?
“I love them and I thank them for reaching their faces off every time I see them.”