Getting To Know... Keekai

Following on from a dazzling array of delights these last few years, Filipinx artist Keekai is back on the grind once again to deliver his captivating new single 'Thunder'.

Set to feature on his next EP, 'Thunder' makes for a beautifully warm and effervescent listen. Capturing more of that broad and euphoric alt-pop aesthetic he has been cultivating over the years, he returns to us with one of his most majestic efforts to date here.

So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his background and what has been inspiring him most over the years.


What was the first instrument you fell in love with?

Hands down the voice. I grew up listening to powerhouse RnB vocalists like Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Michael Jackson, and I always gravitated to how their voices were used in such dynamic and powerful ways. I couldn’t shut up for my life because of this. I would try to mimic their runs, vibrato, and tone as much as I could. It made being a loud kid at school pretty fun.

What kind of music did you love when you were younger?

90’s RnB and early 2000’s pop was where it was at for me. I loved Destiny’s child, P!nk, and Nelly Furtado when I was young. As I went through middle and high school, I ended up blasting my ears with the pop divas of 2008- 2012 like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry, while also obsessing over Bjork’s entire Discography at the time. It was pretty gay.

What was the first album you remember owning?

Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” was the first album I ever bought for myself. I listened to it all the way through constantly with my portable radio cd player in my bedroom. It was such a great listen, and it enforced the habit of mine to listen through entire albums, rather than base my listens off of singles and one offs.

What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?

Better by Kelela. It is such a beautiful and honest song. The vocal layerings are so tasteful, and the main vocal performance fits perfectly in the atmosphere that she’s created. The production also has a dynamic to it that ebbs and flows where it needs to bring focus to. I think it’s a perfect and timeless RnB ballad.

Do you have any habits or rituals you go through when trying to write new music?

I tend to write and create the most late at night. This is a habit that I’ve always just settled myself into, no matter how hard I try to change it due to time or schedule constraints. While days for me can be routinely busy, nights are when I can just let my mind create in a loose and unbothered way. I find that the more tired I am, the less self conscious I become when it comes to writing and composition. I tend to write the seeds of songs at this time, and use the days to polish these demos up.

Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?

Sabrina Carpenter, Nathy Peluso, Tems, Charli XcX and St. Vincent. Pretty gay and eclectic. I’ve been gravitating to artists that give off a sexy party girl attitude in their music. It’s like entering different club rooms for me. I’ve been loving amapiano and reggaeton, but I also love popping into house girly anthems too.

If you could open a show for anyone in the world, who would it be?

It would be an absolute honour to open for Christine and the Queens. I was immediately hooked onto his music. His insanely powerful and emotive vocals, nostalgic and colourful synth productions, and his deep understanding of songwriting for the queer experience has kept me on his journey from the beginnings of his career as an artist.. A brief connection through dance together was what ignited a fire within me to pursue my own music as singer, performer and dancer. It would be a full circle moment if I could open for him in one of his shows.

What do you find is the most rewarding part about being a musician?

It’s knowing that I perform and create for myself and for my own healing. This journey has helped me process some traumatic events in my life, and come out of them with love and understanding. If I didn’t pursue this, then I wouldn’t nearly be as healed from these scars. I’m constantly learning about myself through this journey, and I’m glad to know that I still love to perform because It brings me that much joy.

And what is the most frustrating part?

Comparing myself to other artists. It can be a deadly habit to fall into. Being a performer here in New York can also be quite isolating at times; especially when it feels as though artist camaraderie and collaboration here seems to be gatekept and veiled in mystery. But I try to make it work out because I love this city so much. When the grain pushes against me here, I just try harder to improve my own skills in songwriting and production.

And what is the best piece of advice you have received as a musician?

Finish the song. I need to keep myself accountable for this too, but whatever demo or song I start to write, no matter how bad it is; I just have to finish it. Once the demo is finished, I can move onto the next one. This ensures that whether the song is good or bad, it is at least completed, and that I can move on to another song. In doing so, I know that I am constantly learning and improving the more I write.


Keekai's new single 'Thunder' is available to stream now. Check it out in the player below.