Tyrik ‘Keyz’ Washington has an Emmy, a mission and a vision

ASHLEY RICHARDSON | 8/14/2014, 4:47 p.m.

The founder of the entertainment and media company New Day Music Group, Tyrik “Keyz” Washington, won gold at the 57th annual New York Emmy Awards gala Sunday, March 30. The Brooklyn native was the first producer to be nominated for and win a Craft Specialty Emmy for CUNY-TV, but Washington has been honing his craft for as long as he can remember.

“I was always the cute chubby kid making beats,” said Washington. “And it may sound cliche, but music saved my life.” Coming from a very musically inclined family, Washington explains that he always knew he would pursue this type of career. Looking back, he feels it was a blessing that music was taken so seriously by him and his family.

“[Music] definitely steered me away from various elements that could have been so destructive in my life,” said Washington. “If I didn’t have that beat machine, who knows where my course would’ve been.” He explains that in a lot of situations, there are two options: You can either go left or you can go right. But Washington feels that in a lot of our Black communities, individuals don’t have that choice.

“If left is negative and that’s the only option [someone] sees in their surroundings, then that’s where they’re going to go,” he said. “But with me, I had another option, and it was music. Instead of chilling on the block with my friends, I thought, ‘Let’s take my friends upstairs and make beats.’”

Washington credits a lot of his early development as a musician to his work at Julliard and believes that even if a person has talent, his or her skills must be nurtured and developed.

“That’s why it’s so sad to see New York City, where Black people barely have music classes,” said Washington. “Especially with us, because Black and Brown people are very expressive; we need to have some type of outlet. Whether it’s the arts, music, dance or various different channels.” He believes that without the opportunity for self-expression, the communities are being hindered and people are going to act out.

Washington recognizes that every inner city has negatives, but said, “If you have an undeveloped community, where there’s no youth centers, no music and art classes in the local and public schools in the area, what did you expect?”

In his television series, “The Common Ground,” which is currently under development, Washington recognizes the influence and power that the arts can hold over individuals and communities. According to the New Day Music Group website, the weekly television series will focus on current and past art, music and film and their impact on politics and society.

“The television show will be hosted by one of my dear good friends, Tim Rouse, who is a musician and a great pianist in his own right,” said Washington. “And in my opinion, there are not a lot of bridges, and I don’t like this word ‘underground,’ but there are not a lot of bridges for artists.”

Washington’s inspiration for the series came from a certain period of hip-hop, when, he believes, artists and creators in general were much more connected and collaborative. “I remember when neo-expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and Madonna could be seen hanging out together. There were various people, from various different industries and nationalities, having a type of common ground and being able to interact with one another as artists.”

Washington hopes his television series will act as a way to merge perspectives and create a platform where artists will be able to come together on common ground and recognize that art is changing American society.

Just take a look at hip-hop. “When people talk about hip-hop, they’re usually talking about one scope of hip-hop and that’s mainly mainstream,” said Washington. “I think mainstream hip-hop, at its core, is somewhat moving away from what music is supposed to be about.”

Washington believes mainstream hip-hop is only focusing on a few things: How big is your butt? How much money do you have? How nice is your car? And although Washington recognizes that there are some mainstream hip-hop artistS pushing thought‑provoking music, he believes that these results are from a lack of musicianship and originality in the industry.

“Mainstream hip-hop is a little BS,” said Washington. “Not a lot of big time hip-hop producers play an instrument or really have a true essence of music structure or chord progression, and it’s become an over-saturation of one kind of music.” He describes mainstream hip-hop in a few words: one note, an 808 and a clap. Every song has got the same beat, the same hook and the same bounce to it.

But for Washington, music is much more. His work has been described by the New Day Music Group website as “a unique voice that spans the spectrum of musical styles.” Washington describes music as a gateway to various opportunities, and his work with musical arrangements has naturally led him to explore a career in film as well.

Whether creating music or directing or producing a film, Washington believes it is food for thought. “I think it’s our jobs as filmmakers, or musicians, or just creative people to be able to provide some type of substantive information,” he said. He believes that it is important to find that “happy medium” between education and entertaining.

In his upcoming film, “The Power of Knowing,” Washington hopes to continue with this trend, giving people films with a grasp on reality, films to make you think. Inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal as he was developing “The Power of Knowing,” Washington asked himself several questions: Who knew this ponzi scheme? How did Madoff run this operation? How did this organization, well respected on Wall Street, go on for so long and have nobody say anything?

Art should never just be art. “There has to be some type of conversational piece that goes beyond just you being entertained,” said Washington. “If you had the opportunity to run a ponzi scheme for 30 years and make billions of dollars, knowing you would get caught at 70 years old, would you do it?”

The “Power of Knowing” will be released Tuesday, Sept. 30, on demand and via iTunes. For more information, visit www.NDMGFILMS.com.