Monday, December 11, 2023

LittKeys: One part live band, one part DJ

Chris Keys and Mike Littman make-up the local musical group, LittKeys (Photo credit: Mario Gandia)
Chris Keys (left) and Mike Littman (AKA Dj Litt/right) make-up the local musical group, LittKeys (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Mario Gandia)

VIRGINIA BEACH — When vocalist and keyboardist Chris Keys met DJ Mike Littman five years ago, there was an instant vibe between the two musical entertainers.

Keys, who is part of the band, Cheap Thrills, and Littman, who was doing some engineering for the group, had hoped to collaborate, but they hadn’t been able to connect.

Enter the Robinsons, Rob and Brittany, who asked Keys to perform during their wedding in Jamaica while also enlisting Littman to DJ for the reception. The plan changed when the Robinsons suggested they two play together.

“The wedding in Jamaica was our first gig.” Keys said.

Chris Keys and Mike Littman performing as LittKeys at Shaka's Live. (Photo credit: Walter Rachel)
Chris Keys and Mike Littman performing as LittKeys at Shaka’s Live. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Walter Rachel)

What Keys and Littman bring to the stage musically is what Littman called, “a live band element mixed with the dance party DJ feel.”

Keys spends portions of the show in the acoustic pocket while Littman brings in the beat. With tracks from hip-hop and R&B to country and Top 40, LittKeys combines it all.

Evolution of music

LittKeys’ mixture of ideas and talent is an evolutionary jump the history of music predicts. describes music as an “ever-evolving creature,” and breaks down a scientific study done in 2015, The evolution of popular music: USA 1960-2019. The research showed that when music has static periods that a revolution is imminent, and the precursors for these revolutions came about when styles begin to blend and revitalize music.

“We go all over the spectrum,” Keys said. “Our motto at our shows is to make sure everyone who comes out and sees us has a great time. It’s all about the music and positive energy.”

LittKey's performing at The Shack (Photo credit: Rico Marcelo)
LittKey’s performing at The Shack (Southside Daily photo/ Courtesy of Rico Marcelo)

The fans

Keys spoke about their focus on making the audience part of the show, and has seen the increase in their fan base.

“LittKeys puts a cool twist on some old school songs I remember from college, and I love how it instantly takes me back to those days and puts a smile on my face,” said Virginia Beach local and fan, Lauren Borum.

Fighting cancer with music

Along with performing for the crowd, LittKeys also performs for a purpose. They dedicate time to multiple fundraising events to raise money for those battling cancer.

“When someone is down, we want to be there to help pick them up,” Keys said.

Humble with history

Keys gives Littman praise for his keen ear and creative production ideas for their shows.

“He’s humble,” Keys said. “He calls me at all times of the night with these ideas, He sees a vision and steers us in the right direction.”

Littman comes from a background in music production after being introduced to it at Master Sound Studios. In the 90s, he was part of the team that worked with Portsmouth native Nicole Wray, who was the first artist signed by Missy Elliott’s label, The Goldmine.

Keys, who also performs solo acoustic gigs and with Cheap Thrills, is child No. 4 of six brothers. His mother couldn’t afford piano lessons; however, with an old donated piano, an ear to the radio, and his mother’s prayers while she placed his hands on the keys, Keys taught himself to play.

Local scene & future

Since their first gig in October 2016, LittKeys is performing all over the city.

LittKeys performs throughout Virginia Beach, including Waterman's, Sandbar Surf Bar, Calypso, and ReVive. Photo credit: Mario Gandia)
LittKeys performs throughout Virginia Beach, including Waterman’s, Sandbar Surf Bar, Calypso, and ReVive. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Mario Gandia)

As for the future, they’re hoping to travel outside of the area.

As for the duo that started it all, the Robinsons, they are expecting twins, and Littman and Keys are looking forward to being honorary uncles.

LittKeys will be performing Saturday at the 3rd annual July Jammin Jamboree at Chicks Beach at 5 p.m., and again at 10 p.m. at HK On the Bay.

Learn more about LittKeys here.

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