25th March is an important date for keshi fans worldwide. The multihyphenate artist is about to reveal to the world what he’s all about with his debut album “GABRIEL”. Music lovers have already gotten a tease of what to expect thanks to the release of “GET IT”. On the track, he flexes the lifestyle he’s worked hard for (“Got my bag right/On my own time”) and invites his fans to come join him (“On me and we spendin’ all night, come and/Get it, get it, get it”).
During our recent chat with keshi (real name Casey Luong), the triple threat musician recalled what (or rather who) took him out of his writer’s block and whether “GABRIEL” references the bible. If his singles are anything to go by, music listeners are definitely in for a new energy that’s fresh and exciting. Since genre-bending comes naturally to keshi, one can’t really pin him down to just a single genre. Read more about his latest project here:
1. You just announced your upcoming album “GABRIEL” will be releasing at the end of the month on 25th of March. So how are you feeling and gearing up for the impending album release?
A little bit nervous, but mostly very, very excited, very, very happy that, you know, the record that I worked on like for the past years finally coming out. We worked on it from January to about July like end of July. And that’s when it finally like really finished like shape wise and from that always just like finishing touches, whether it was production or mixing, mastering and it’s just been it was like half a year of going back and forth between Houston and LA for two weeks at a time like the back and forth back and forth. And very long, arduous adventurous and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.
2. Do you have plans to tour here in Asia or specifically Southeast Asia?
Absolutely. Like, we’re still getting everything worked out. But I would love like I want nothing more than to go to Southeast Asia. I’ve been wanting to go to Southeast Asia ever since I started like “keshi” because like I feel like some of my first like ride or die fans like were from Southeast Asia.
And like I it was just the most validating thing in the world to know that there were people like across the world that were listening to my music that I was making in my bedroom like when I started so beyond stoked to go and play shows and I feel like they’re gonna be crazy.
3. “GET IT” is the intro track for your new album. What was the inspiration for the art cover for “GET IT”?
Yeah. So “GET IT” was really great. Um, it was when we were shooting the music video, actually. So we had found a shot that we like…Basically, we were shooting the whole video and there’s a scene where I kind of, you know, get the living hell kicked out of me. And, like, I’m on the floor and I’m spitting out blood and stuff. And like, in that moment, Kenji, my photographer and videographer came in and he wasn’t shooting that video. So he was shooting kind of the process of the video. He was like, Oh, wait, Casey, like let me get a couple of shots of you. Like while you’re on the floor.
And we were going through options for album art and there wasn’t anything that really clicked for us. And then we’re like, Oh, why don’t we go through the video? Why don’t we see like what there is for the BTS and the first options were actually of all the boys like that were in the shot all the shirtless like sexy, sweaty men.
And we wanted to capture that like chaos, you know? But then we finally saw the shot of me smiling with the blood dripping out of my mouth. It kind of sums up the song quite nicely. It’s very, there’s a lot of bravado, there’s a lot of confidence but it’s also about drowning in those things at the same time. So I think it captures it perfectly.
4. Why did you decide to call the album “GABRIEL”?
So I’m not a religious person. I’ve always loved the name “GABRIEL” and can’t really like, can’t really explain why. But when it came time to name the record, I didn’t like I wanted to name it something memorable, but not something overly convoluted. And like it would turn out cheesy. And I didn’t want anything with like a, like a, I don’t know.
Like a weird backstory, like, it doesn’t have to be too deep, you know. And when it came time to give the album a name, I didn’t have one. I think I was like, maybe four or five tracks deep. And the only songs I had were like “SOMEBODY”, “TOUCH”, “GET IT” and “HELL/HEAVEN”. And none of them really captured how I felt about the record. And for a little bit of time, I was like, talking to my manager, and I got sick of calling it the album. So I was just like, why don’t we just call this project “GABRIEL”, for now, just as a placeholder.
And I started to think that maybe naming an album isn’t so different from naming your child and why does it have to be like any different from that? It just kind of stuck. So I was like, why don’t we just call it “GABRIEL”. And I feel like everyone’s so intrigued about it. And it’s kind of it’s kind of great, and it’s working, you know, like people like they’ll remember it, you know.
5. “GABRIEL” seems to have a biblical concept. Would you mind explaining it further?
I’m actually like, not a religious person. So like, it was really fun for me to kind of like write tangentially, like off of it. Like I might have mentioned before, to basically talk about, like, you know, what is hell and heaven mean, in the context of my life, what does Limbo mean, in the context of my life? And like, what does Angel mean in the context of my life? Like who like, like, what does that person, you know, look like?
And how have we interacted before, you know, like, who is a literal angel in my life? And how do you treat them so like, in that song, particular song “ANGEL”, like, I basically hold someone in such high regard that like, you’re constantly like, drowning, like in their, in their presence, you know? And that was sort of the fun part of like, writing for me like trying to tie that in as like. It’s not so much like a metaphor as much as it is just like, something to write about.
6. You talk about this album being more emotional. Was there a different approach in terms of the writing process? How is it different from your previous records?
I’m not sure emotional is the word that I would use for I think definitely more personal than anything. I mean, definitely. There’s still like honest emotions in it. But it’s not like overly sad by any means. It’s just very candid. The writing process was largely the same in terms of like me being by myself, and like writing the music, like, in my studio back in Houston. But it was more, I feel like I’ve learned a lot more in terms of where to go as like a songwriter in terms of like melody, or like cadence or rhythm. And it was very intentionally done. So that like, I don’t know, I feel like I’ve just gotten better as a songwriter like in terms of like, how I word things, and like, where I go melody wise. So yeah, definitely have grown.
7. Speaking of your creative process, how do you make the decision on knowing what to put out? Or scrap off? Do you require any sort of validation throughout this?
Oh, it’s definitely more…I don’t really look for anyone else’s validation in terms of like, what I should and what I shouldn’t put out. There’s actually a lot of demos that my manager and my team have heard that they’ve urged me time and time again to put out but I refuse because like I just feel like it’s, it’s not in line with what my vision is for myself as an artist.
8. What song from GABRIEL are you most particularly excited for people to hear? And why?
I mean, I love them all. Like they’re my children honestly, like equally to death. But there is a track. It’s Track 7, “HELL/HEAVEN” that I’m very excited for people to hear. And I’ve talked about it a lot before too. I feel like it kind of like the production is so varied. Like I just love how much ear candy there is into it. And I feel like it’d be a really special moment when I put it on tour.
9. What message do you want to convey through the song, “GET IT”?
Oh, I mean, it’s definitely it’s definitely a very braggadocious song. There’s a lot of bravado and a lot of confidence in it. But it’s kind of like a double edged sword. Like it talks about, you know, drowning, that sort of confidence as well. I basically just want to make a really, really energetic hype song that like I’ve that would catch the fans off guard. And that would be really, really fun to listen to while you’re on tour. And it’s like a great opening banger track. So, really stoked to share it with people live.
10. Do you have a writer’s block moment? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep writing while facing hard times?
Yeah, so writer’s block was happening to me, like, I think right after I finished “Always”, and the trilogy EP because it started to feel really stagnant and like the same like I wasn’t making music that was like pushing boundaries. And it just like, everything sounded the same to me. And I was getting like really fed up with myself. And it wasn’t until I met Elie, my executive producer for “GABRIEL” over in LA.
And it wasn’t until I started making music with him that I started to feel like I was having fun making music again. And like I feel like he really brought out the best in me like as an artist and like I brought out you know, the best of him as a producer. And I think collaboration is a really great way to help with with writers block for sure.
Yeah, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like I sat there and I said, Oh, I’m stuck. And then he helped me write it was more like being with another person in the room making music was inspiring. Like, just just having a whole other person to make music with was so much fun. And, yeah, when I wrote “GABRIEL”, like the whole record, there was never a time that I felt like I had writer’s block. So yeah.
11. You gained a Kpop fan base after being noticed by BTS. Out of curiosity, have you noticed a difference between your Kpop fans and your regular fans?
Ah, yeah, actually, it’s really interesting. I mean, the Kpop fans are definitely very global. It is pretty funny because I’ll like if I post on Twitter, and it gets some attraction, I’ll trend under Kpop and which I think is really interesting, because I’m not Korean. And I don’t speak Korean and I don’t sing in Korean.
Yeah, I think it’s just like the it’s just the way that the metadata works for Twitter. You know, this fan accounts like engage with certain media, so I’ll trend under it, I guess. But yeah, I feel the love so strongly from Kpop fans, I feel like they’re incredibly vocal and super supportive with everything that I do. So yeah, definitely I feel the love.
Watch the full interview here:
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