Lo-fi and alternative music fans are more than familiar with the name Keshi! The Vietnamese descent Houstonian has managed to sweep up more than one billion streams, released his new single, “SOMEBODY”, along with the music video from his upcoming studio album.
The anticipated new record is described as something “more well-rounded” by Keshi. The single, “SOMEBODY”, is a perfect combination and balance between pop and his usual lo-fi style, layered with his harmonies, which adds more edge to the song’s vibe. How exciting is this?! Recently, we had the chance to chat with Keshi during the Southeast Asia Press Conference. Here’s everything to know about what went down:
1. Is “SOMEBODY” part of another trilogy — since “Always” concluded the previous trilogy, or is “SOMEBODY” another entity in itself? And is the album almost done?
“SOMEBODY” is the single of my next album and the album, as I’ve made it, is whole on it’s own. It’s not a part of any sort of trilogy project. I feel like the trilogy project is an album of its own kind, and they tallied together that way. But this album is fully cohesive, I don’t have it tied to anything else in the future. From now on, I think I’ll probably stick to making full albums. Also yeah, the album is done, it’s mixed. I have a couple of notes to send over to our mixer just to make a couple of edits, but it’s done and it’s ready, and it sounds amazing; very proud of it!
2. Out of all the songs in the album, why did you choose “SOMEBODY” to be the first single?
I think “SOMEBODY” is one of the more palatable and sweeter tracks on the record. I feel like I do take sort of experimental sonic (sound); I feel like the process of making music when I was making this record was similar to when I was making music on SoundCloud. I didn’t care so much about making a song that would cater to any specific audience, it was definitely more for me. So, there’s lots of interesting things that happened in the production and in the writing and melodies that I feel like if we put them out first, it might deter some people away. At the end of the day, they’re really great tracks but for (a) single, “SOMEBODY” made the most sense.”
3. How does “SOMEBODY” stand out in your current discography?
The way I approached making “SOMEBODY” — and the rest of the record honestly — was more from of a sonic standpoint. I feel like along the way of having (the persona) “Keshi” grow more and more, I kind of lost sight of the point of music for me, which is to make music enjoyable to listen to at the end of the day and not making everything into such a moody, broody sort of atmosphere. I’m more than that genre, and I am trying to prove that with this next record. I’m trying to establish the fact that I do have a very diverse range but I just haven’t showcased (it) because I felt like fans were really enjoying this kind of music.
4. In your music video for “SOMEBODY”, we can see that there are different women, scenes and faces. What was the concept/storyline behind that?
That was really just my creative director taking the lead for this next album cycle. He is just a creative genius. We were chatting about concepts for the video, and he had brought up this idea where he said, “I feel like for a lot music videos, there’s so much focus on the artist performing the track but sometimes you have to intersplice the artist performing with other parts of the video; whether it be narratives or something else — in this case the models. I think it was a really clever idea to stir fans into wanting to learn the lyrics, and I think it resonated with my fanbase.
5. What are the factors that contributed to the shift in the vibe for the “SOMEBODY” music video? Because we know that previously, it was all chill and laidback, but in “SOMEBODY”, it is more mature.
I wanted to diversify (the) range of music that I make and put out, and I wanted to take things back to what I envisioned “Keshi” to be when I first made it. I feel like I’m really hitting the nail on the head with it. I think that people will enjoy it at the end of the day. So, I just want to broaden my musical range.
6. In the collaboration with Jeremy Zucker in “Sociopath”, how did you synchronise your musical differences?
It’s interesting. We didn’t write the song together; it’s more like, he made his part and I made mine. So, I feel like that’s how we settled our musical differences. I don’t feel like we’re so wildly different, but I know what you mean. We have our own way of creating music and I think we’re both very particular about how we want our music to sound. So, honestly, there are some cases in which collaboration is better together, and I guess in this instance, the collaboration succeeded even (though) we’re apart. It’s where he had sent me the files at first, I added my production to it, and I sent it back to him for him to incorporate it in his own way. Then, I wrote my portion and we combined it at the very end. So it is a mutual effort between the two of us in our own respective ways. I hope I can write with him again, but in person and we’ll see how that goes too.
[Side note: You can check out our interview with Jeremy Zucker where he talked about his collab with Keshi here.]
7. We were excited about your performance with NIKI (Nicole Zefanya) during the Head In The Clouds Festival, can we expect a collaboration between the two of you in the future?
After the festival, I actually had dinner with her and I brought my fiancée along with me. She showed us the greatest time. We got to share our upcoming music with each other. As for (collaborating), I’m very excited to get into some writing sessions with her because we are talking about it right now, so, (it’s) yet to come!”
8. Do you recognise any changes in your life and has it affected your music making process?
Yeah, I would say back when I was working as a nurse, I would just make music when I was free. Now, I can choose when I want to make music. Back when I was a nurse, I felt like I had to make music when I was free, there was no option, otherwise, I would be at work. If I had any free time, I had to be making music. Now, I can sit back, relax, (and) wait for (a) little bit more of inspiration (to) come to me. Though, I should be a little bit more regimented when I go into the studio, I admit that. It’s been really great, I’ve been really happy that I can devote all of my free time to music now.
9. In your opinion, when you write your music, do you write it for your fans or do you write to express how you’re feeling during that moment?
It’s always a shared sort of thing. The one that’s released is the consideration towards the fans. When it comes to writing music, it’s always coming from me — I don’t write music for anyone else. But, with the record, the consideration was solely just on what I wanted to release.
10. Who is your critic outside of the internet?
So, when I made “Keshi”, that was the point: to get critique from strangers that didn’t know me personally. I didn’t want to show friends and family my early production; it sucks, and that’s honest. So, you put out your bad music that doesn’t get attraction, and you start to figure out what does get attraction, and that’s how it worked for me. It’s a trial and error process. The early fans and my musical family (were the ones) that gave me critique, and I figured out what I was doing wrong, and what I was doing right.
11. Do you have any advice for people who would like to take the lead and enter the music industry?
I think that everyone’s situation is very different and I can’t act like I know the secret to being noticed, or success, or anything like that. I feel like I’m very lucky. It was just a random combination of acts. As for me, I’m still in awe that any of this is happening. But, as advice from a musician to another musician who loves their craft, I would just say: pursue and continue (to) do what you love, and to not sacrifice what you want to do for anything else. That’s what I did.
12. Lastly, before we end this, do you have anything that you want to say to your fans in South East Asia?
The only thing I will say right now is that I can’t wait to see you guys in person. I can’t wait for that one; it’s going to happen soon. So, I hope you’re looking forward to new music.
Other than those questions, we managed to get some bonus content from Keshi; i.e. fun facts and his next big goal. When asked about his dream, Keshi mentioned that he’s aiming to win a Grammy one day and tour the world.
In his free time, the singer-songwriter shared that he watches anime, reads manga and plays Valorant! Who knows, the next time you log into Valorant, you might just be playing against or with him ;)
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