The global pandemic has made many people change the ways in which they express themselves through different mediums. We’ve spent more time getting acquainted with an array of talented folks from all walks of life, and one that’s landed on our radar recently is singer-songwriter KEYANA from Singapore.
Nothing could stop the 18-year old from releasing her debut singles “Save It” and “SCORPIO” in 2020 when many of us were still stuck in quarantine at home. Her soothing vocals layered over lo-fi R&B beats put her in good company among a new breed of international R&B artists who have been rising to the fore in recent years. When we found out that she hails from the Lion City, we knew we had to learn more about her.
The Ghanaian-Singaporean artist recently released her new single titled “Afterglow,” which serves as the lead single for her debut album that she is in the process of cooking up for 2022. Having captured the hearts of what the internet call #vibes and #wavey with her unique sound, we’ve got an eye on this superstar in the making, and here’s why you should too.
Hi KEYANA. How is 2021 coming along for you so far?
2021 has been great. A lot of staying at home, spending quality time with friends and family, and planning a lot of exciting projects.
What would you say are some of your earliest memories of music?
I think one of my earliest memories of music happened because I started dancing. Other than my own iPod, I think it was the only avenue that I listened to and [used to] memorise music. Karaoke is definitely up there too – my family loves karaoke.
How has your music taste changed since you were young?
I don’t think my music taste has changed dramatically. I’ve always liked a certain sound and certain genres of music. I think I just listen to a lot more music now, and the only thing that has really changed is my perspective towards music. I definitely listen to music with a lot more depth now.
How did you decide to become a recording artist?
I definitely think there was one moment when I committed to my dreams of becoming a recording artist. But to be very honest, I have always wanted to be a recording artist or performer. Everything in life at that moment just aligned for me; it felt natural to start learning and pursuing music as a career. The way I made it happen truly is just through conversations – I have a lot of friends who were musicians, and I just asked them for help.
How did it feel to get such great responses for your debut singles “Save It” and “Scorpio” during a pandemic?
Honestly, it still surprises me till this day that I make music that people want to listen to. I am extremely thankful for all the support I got for those two singles. I always like to say that those two singles truly gave me the momentum I needed to continue making music. Always thankful for everyone who supported and shared the songs.
Tell us about “Afterglow,” and how did you decide to make it the first single leading to your debut album next year?
I wish I had a better answer to what made me decide that “Afterglow” is going to be my first single, but it just felt right. I don’t know why.
What can we expect from your upcoming album?
It’s a project from the heart. I’m working very hard to produce a sonically and visually appealing project that will definitely be a step up from my previous releases. I always aim for baby steps in improvement with each project – this was the case for “Save It” to “Scorpio,” then “Scorpio” to “Afterglow.” All I can say is, I’m constantly working towards evolution and improvement, which I am excited to show the world through the album.
How did you link up with international producers like Grammy-nominated producer JT Gagarin (SZA, 6LACK, Jhené Aiko) and British multi-instrumentalist ROMderful?
When it comes to linking up with international producers, engineers, anything music-related, I feel like all of us are human, everywhere; so you can just text them, DM them, maybe have a mutual friend that will introduce you guys together—honestly, anything.
What are some of your favourite memories as an artist so far?
Honestly, my favourite aspect and bundles of memories come from all the beautiful, creative minds I have made since entering the industry. We share a lot of inspiration and creative energy, which helps me see things in a new colour. My top moment was definitely the debut show at Marina Bay Sands.
You are keeping yourself busy with modelling as well. How are you managing to juggle both careers? And are there any other talents that we don’t know about?
For me, I had to learn to manage my time. I think starting young helped mould me in that sense, so it became less of a challenge over time. It helps that both industries are very close relatives. I’ve been dancing since the age of 3, so there’s that too.
Are there any types of sounds that you are strangely drawn to?
I think a sound that I’m strangely drawn towards is indie-pop. I’ve been listening to a lot of that recently.
What have you learned about yourself in 2021?
I learned that I was a lot more patient than I thought I was.
What are your hopes before the year ends and for the new year?
My hopes before the year-end and the new year are always the same. I just want my family and friends to stay healthy, and honestly, I’m hoping for bigger opportunities and fresh music from local musicians here.
Could you tell us a bit about the playlist you have shared with Sound Of Life here?
This playlist is called “As Long As Your Heart Smiles.” It is my favourite music to relax and unwind to after a long day.
Kick back, press play, and enjoy these tunes hand-picked by KEYANA.
Cover Credit: Lenne Chai
Writer | Kevin Yeoh
Kevin Yeoh from Malaysia is in a serious relationship with music and YouTube. He is also casually dating Kindle and having a fling with podcasts.