Kehlani – ‘A Rise With Grace’
Words: Miles Holder
The rise of Kehlani hasn’t been an easy one; at every stage in her career she has been given a new cross to bear or obstacle to climb but despite all her hardships, she has always emerged triumphant. Releasing her critically acclaimed debut album ‘SweetSexySavage’ in January 2017 and currently on her highly rated world tour, while it’s been a long time coming, it would seem that Kehlani is finally seeing the fruits of her many years of hard labour. Speaking with a delicate manner but a hardened confidence far beyond her 21 years of age, we sat down to find out more about one of R&B’s most exciting artists.
Looking back, were you happy with how your album did?
I think it was really good for the time that it came out. There was a lot of negative commotion happening especially in my country with the US election so I think that something easy and positive was definitely needed at that time.
You air your personal feelings and fears out there on the album, is it hard to expose so much emotion for the world to hear?
With me, it’s all or nothing; go hard or go home. We all as know what’s really going on and people will feel it if it’s not really me on the track. I want to make people feel through my music – we all put up with fake shit all the time so I wanted to contribute something that’s the real me.
Music has always been your life and it’s something you’ve been working on for so long, did that not put a lot of pressure on you to succeed when dropping new music?
For me, the pressure doesn’t come from outside people, it’s all what I put on myself in the creative process. I’m asking myself “Could I hit that note better” or “should I shift beats differently”, but I’m not thinking about the sales-numbers because that doesn’t really matter. I just worry about making sure whatever I’m working on is a better project than the last.
How do you deal with the pressure of all the show business?
I’m doing so much that I never have time to really stop and think about it all. I don’t have the focus and it’s hard to manage but at the end of the day, it’s got to get done! Ain’t non of this shit easy for anyone.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself to just stay focused and get as much rest as you can because you’re about to turn up! [laughs] But seriously, I’d tell myself to learn how to prioritise myself and to learn how to protect my energy. If I had entered the industry with more knowledge on self, how to protect myself and emotional take care of my life then things would have been much easier.
Being a sensitive, open and loving person has definitely led to some downfalls but I do wish I’d learnt some emotional grounding as a kid but I don’t beat myself up about it because it’s hard and most people don’t even learn half of that until they’re old.
When you shut your eyes and you think of your perfect future, what is it?
I want to be a mum. I want to have my kids and just settle down. If I keep going as fast as I’ve been going, I’m going to be over it and it’ll be time for the quiet life one day.
What’s your message to all young people out there who might have gone through or are going through the same struggles you have?
Don’t let the world discourage you or let the things that weigh on your shoulders crush you. Know that for me, it’s really hard and as a woman especially because we’re so caring and we have large hearts which make us want to fix the unfixable and carry a weight too large to bear. I just hope everyone out there knows to just breathe through it and to take everything at their own pace. Most importantly, people should never forget to take care of themselves.
What is your FAULT?
I don’t know how to answer that because I’m so human and I never stop to imagine that I’d only ever have one fault. We all have FAULTs, being twenty-one-years-old reminds me that I’m human because I’m pretty sure I have a fuck up every single day. I can’t think of just one thing -that’s my FAULT.