Something I find truly intriguing, is when a keyboard player sounds completely different in each song they play. The band ∆ (Alt-J) is a good example of this.
I'm a one-man recording band myself, and looking to make my music more interesting by trying this as well. Which is why I am wondering how people usually do this. Do they simply use the Midi signal from their keyboard and feed it through a laptop? Do they use keyboards that have the necessary software and hardware (sliders, buttons, etc) to alter their sound to their liking? Or do the keyboards simply have a wide array of pre-defined sounds that can be used?
I'll take the freedom to anticipate the "all of those things you mentioned" answer, by also asking which of these options would be easiest to start out with for somebody who has never played keyboards or synthesizers. I do play the piano well enough to make the switch technically, but I'm absolutely uneducated about how to get the sound I'd want.