Shift K3Y (alternately Shift Key) is Lewis Jankel, a songwriter, producer, and falsetto-equipped vocalist whose best output cleverly fuses contemporary pop and R&B with hints of classic house and garage sounds.
The London, England native’s earliest performance was at the age of six. That’s when he joined his father Chaz’s band, the Blockheads, for a live radio appearance of “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Pt. 3,” shortly after the 2000 death of Ian Dury.
Two days prior to the broadcast, the older Jankel intended to perform Dury’s part, but Lewis was skeptical of his father’s ability to pull it off. Chaz then challenged Lewis; the younger Jankel not only learned Dury’s lines, but also the song’s keyboard part, and he adapted its guitar solo to piano. The performance went off without a hitch.
Years later, Lewis’ interest in production was sparked by his father’s purchase of a software application. By the age of 20, he made a name for himself with the EPs Step in the City (Bullet Train, 2011), Let You Down (Buygore, 2012), and Left & Right (Bullet Train, 2012). He also remixed AlunaGeorge’s “Attracting Flies,” Iggy Azalea’s “Change Your Life,” Tinie Tempah’s “Trampoline,” and Bastille’s “Flaws.” He signed to Columbia in the U.K., and his major-label debut was made in April 2014, just after he opened for Skrillex in the U.S., with the modernized garage pop single “Touch.” Like “Reasons to Be Cheerful, Pt. 3” 35 years prior, it reached number three on the U.K. pop chart. In August 2015, following a pair of singles that didn’t perform as well, Jankel issued the varied four-track EP Off the Record, with each one of its tracks given individual release.