Casey Luong, popularly known as Keshi, is a singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist whose art has a deeply profound soul to it. The 26-year-old’s music has touched over a million hearts and continues to grow its reach everyday.
Fans love Keshi, and it’s easy to understand why. His songs talk to you and always has a valuable message behind it. This indie artist was named an “essential new artist for 2020” by NME, and also recently released his EP “Always”.
Take a deeper look into the “like I need u” star’s creative process, his future albums and more, on our exclusive interview with Keshi:
1. What made you want to stick to the theme of “always” for your recent EP?
It (‘Always’) is the last chapter of a trilogy of records that I made. And I was thinking about what to title it. I was going to name it ‘Us’, because that was the last track on the record. But in the end I decided on ‘Always’ because when you put it all together and think of ‘Skeletons’, ‘Bandaids’ and ‘Always’ – that title – it sort of illustrates what I love about relationships and interpersonal connection. It’s about being vulnerable and there’s a bitter-sweet tinge to it; Like you have your own secrets, which is ‘Skeletons’, you’re going to hurt each other, which is ‘Bandaids’. But you both resolve to try to stick it till the end – so ‘Skeletons’, ‘Bandaids’ and ‘Always’ just wraps it up really nicely for a record.
2. In the song “Always”, the lyrics talk about losing someone. Do you love that aspect of a relationship?
I love all parts of relationships. You can’t not appreciate the bad like you appreciate the good, because they’re all a part of this learning process and discovering yourself. It’s so important, you know. Relationships are a mirror, absolutely a mirror. Because you learn things about yourself that you would have never known if you didn’t jump into that relationship. It’s so important to your own growth. You can never stop learning about yourself.
3. Is there anything that you hope to “always” have with you? What is it?
My sense of self.
I feel like I have a job now where it’s very easy to confuse yourself with the character that you’re creating. Especially in the midst of people that are around you, trying to have ulterior motives and everything. It’s very easy to be introduced to the wrong kinds of people. It’s very easy to let the smoke get to your head a little bit and let your head get too big. You just want to grow and I just want to be the person I always intended to be since I was 20-years-old.
4. You speak about being “as real as can be”. To what extent is that really possible when you’re a public figure?
There’s definitely going to be a wall in terms of privacy. It’s a very natural thing. But the emotions are real. Just because you have a facade to help preserve the semblance of a ‘normal’ life, that doesn’t mean that what you create and what you talk about is disingenuous. Real in the sense that it’s honest, that’s the best way I can put it. Nothing is written to pander to anybody. It’s all art because I wanted to make art. That’s how I keep it as honest as possible.
But yeah, there’s definitely a certain line I draw in the sand. There have definitely been instances where fans have crossed that line and it’s taken me aback a little bit. Especially with Keshi, where a persona is created and there’s a stage name associated with it and this is arms length, you say it. That’s always been the wall for me. But sometimes they (fans) get through it and you’re a little shaken. But it’s something that comes with the territory, I think, and it’s something that you have to get used to.
wow thank u RM hooooly shit lol ??? https://t.co/zuyuPGJIRl
— keshi (@keshimusic) August 7, 2019
5. Did you anticipate the impact that would come about with you being featured on BTS’ 20 recommended songs?
Absolutely not. I didn’t realise how much reach that would create for me. I’m just so grateful for it. So grateful to have listeners in general. I’m glad, because I found so many listeners because of it. So what can I say, other than thank you so much.
6. What are your thoughts on the K-Pop industry?
When you think of pop music now, you think of K-Pop. When you think of pop music, BTS is at the forefront. They’re undeniable and I think it’s amazing. I know English is a very universal language, but that does not mean that all art needs to be in English or a certain language. I admire them and I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have that level of prestige. They’re all so incredibly talented, I strive to be as amazing as they are.
7. What artists do you hope to collaborate with in the future?
I’m a very self-contained artist at the moment. It almost sounds arrogant to want to collaborate with a hero. Of course, Stromae would be a dream. But I think I’m trying to just focus on myself. But for the record, there are a few artists who I’m close with and working with for some collabs in the near future. So I’m excited for you guys to hear that.
8. Your recent merchandise shows that you’ve used a single rose as one of the items. What does this mean? What are you trying to convey?
I have a gold necklace that I’ve come to be known for wearing, I guess. And I have so many fans asking me ‘where did you get it’ and ‘where can I get one like that?’. And I hear them, and I know that they love it. I wanted to respond to that by creating a couple of necklaces that they can also try wearing.
9. We’ve noticed that you try to have a deep connection with your fans. Why do you feel it’s important to be closer to them on a personal level?
I would not be here without them. I am grateful to them – it should not be the other way around. An artist is nothing without an audience and I’m just thankful to have listeners at all. I guess in a way this is my subconscious not forgetting that the fans are the most important thing, and I just want to remind them of that. I’m here, I’m around, you can actually reach me, I’ll reach out.
10. You have spoken out about standing up against systemic racism. In what ways do you actively support this movement?
I think the strongest way that I could possibly have activated (this movement) was to utilise the platform in order to bring additional awareness to something that we all know is there, yet for some reason choose to act like it’s not. And it got to a point where standing by is just not enough. The third party is the most important party. Because, if there’s two sides to a coin, one side thinks there’s nothing wrong being done and the other side thinks there’s everything wrong being done, it’s up to the other party to decide what to say about it.
11. How does your time as a registered nurse influence your music? Did this experience create a greater sense of empathy?
I would refute that (it created a greater sense of empathy). I was miserable working as a nurse on the floor. I turned off my brain, do tasks like a robot. That’s not to say I didn’t show kindness on my face, of course I did. But I kept my domains very separate. It was very clear in my heart that I would never let this offhanded decision I made, going into a career that I didn’t care about, taint or touch what I held closest to my existence as a person.
After a while it takes a toll trying to divide out your life like that. You just can’t do it anymore. And one day, I had to leave and now here we are. That’s not to say that I don’t admire the work that nurses do. They’re very necessary. Maybe it just wasn’t the right fit for me.
12. How does it feel now that you have concluded your EP trilogy after 3 years?
I didn’t think I could do it. I did not think I would be able to deliver it. And the fact that in the end I did, it’s just a testament to take it one day at a time, and if you put your mind to it you can really do it. So, I’m very proud. I’m very relieved that it’s finally all out. It feels like everything I wanted to make. It feels like an album quality EP trilogy. I loved it – the whole concept. I ordered my own vinyl! I am more excited to have it than anybody else.
13. What can we expect from your album?
I’m trying to figure it out, I couldn’t really put a finger on it. I don’t know what makes an album a great album. It’s scary to think about. But what I do know is that when I look into an album the songs sound better when listened top down than when they are in a playlist. I think that’s the goal I want to achieve.
14. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic artists can’t perform live. What other forms of expression of music are you exploring during this time?
(In terms of) expression of music, it’s not like there was a new avenue I could explore in that regard. But because of Covid-19, I was able to learn the piano. I bought a piano in January because I was like, might as well figure out how to play it. I wouldn’t have used certain chord progressions if I had not got it. It was so refreshing to change my understanding of music, and half of the record was written seated at the piano.
We hope you enjoyed Keshi’s exclusive interview as much as we did! It was an insightful experience into his talent, wisdom and music style. We’re definitely looking forward to more from this artist.
Watch Keshi’s music video for “Always” here: