Derek Keota was born and raised in Orange County, California, and during his teenage years, moved back and forth between Thailand and California. His travels and being connected with two cultures inspired his love for music and he realized that he wanted to work hard to make this his career.

Derek said of how he decided to study at Musicians Institute, “I came across MI and was immediately drawn to its location (heart of Hollywood and thus, the music industry), the large selection of equipment and studio space provided, and its glowing reputation. I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles in 2015…and I have not regretted a single choice.”

Through his studies at MI, Derek landed his first internship through MI at Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins’ Studio in Hidden Hills, CA. Though he began as an unpaid intern, he continued to work hard and was promoted to Assistant Engineer and now, the studio’s Chief Engineer. 

Working under Rodney led to his first Grammy Nomination for Chromeo’s “Head Over Heels” (Best Engineered Album).  Derek said of his career now, “If you had asked me how I pictured my life three years out of school, never would I have thought that I would be working with artists like H.E.R., Ciara, Jessie J, EXO, X Ambassador, Kehlani, Lukas Graham as well as working for TV Shows like Empire and Star.”

Derek shared that MI not only taught him  the fundamentals of engineering but it taught him how to build connections and make use of the tools the school had to offer.

“MI has been a life-changing experience would be an understatement. I am grateful for all that I have gained through MI, as it has served and continues to serve as a gateway to the numerous opportunities that lie ahead.”

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