“I’m feeding you a pain sandwich but it’s nutritious as hell.” If there’s one thing this past year has taught us, is that’s OK – in fact, healthy – to be in your feels. Acknowledging pain and trauma is the first step to healing, and one artist leading the self-growth revolution is Tanzanian-America rising star kezia, who has been making waves with her body-moving R&B frequencies.
Loaded with raw storytelling lyricism and propulsive bass lines, the California-based artist and guitarist explores everything from “lust, heartache, separation, trauma, and rediscovery” in her hypnotic tracks. A DIY self-taught musician at heart, kezia started out by putting her music out on Soundcloud, growing a loyal fanbase, before hitting up underground parties in Vallejo, San Francisco with her electric performances. “Making friends with other weird and different people helped me be myself and feel accepted for it,” kezia muses. “Exposing myself allowed myself to be shaped by different energies.”
The artist is now back with her latest track “SUNSHINE”, a thumping “sinister lullaby” but also a remedy for a close friend going through a difficult time, which swiftly turned into an ode of self-love and empowerment. Taken from her forthcoming EP “claire” (the artist’s middle name), prepare to see a whole other side of the stirring up-and-comer.
We caught up with kezia below…
Hey kezia, how are you? How’s the past year been?
I’m lovely. This past year for me has been marked by major losses and major blessings, but I’m grateful with how much I’ve been able to learn along the way.
Has your creativity been affected by everything that has gone on?
I think the pandemic has challenged me in ways that forced me to go outside of myself, which is a good thing because I think that creativity thrives under restrictions. I’ve gotten to know myself more intimately, and it’s made me hungrier to not only express myself through new eyes but to dive deeper into my own nature. I’ve had to rediscover my love and passion for my craft, it feels almost like meeting someone new.
What is your earliest memory of music?
My earliest memory has to be driving with my mom and listening to the radio. She was into alternative music at the time so I was surrounded by a ton of Muse, Modest Mouse, Taking Back Sunday, a lot of bands.
You grew up listing to My Chemical Romance and Paramore, how did you transition into a more R&B sound?
My first introduction to R&B was through my cousins, going to their house watching the Kids Choice Awards, watching music videos through their Disney princess TV. It wasn’t until I started taking guitar lessons that I became enamoured with R&B. My guitar teacher Josh would teach me different songs every week, and my fascination grew from there.
You grew up in American Canyon, California which is amazing! Do you think growing up in inspired any of your music?
Definitely. The place where I’m from in particular is a small town. We only have one middle school, one high school, and the same group of kids pretty much go to school with each other their whole lives. My high school was different in the sense that it was normal for most students to be involved in a visual-performing art, and I think that culture inspired me to pursue art. I’m always trying to see how far I can take myself, and being from a small town forced me to push myself outside of the boundaries of what i could see in front of me.
Congratulations on your single “SUNSHINE”! What was the creative process like and what inspired this single?
Thank you so much! I made “SUNSHINE” with my friend in 2018. They played me the beat, and the song wrote itself. I wrote it as kind of like a remedy for a friend of mine who was going through a tough time, and it sat with me as this kind of sinister lullaby. I was feeling guilty for the part I played in my friends’ sadness and it was made with the intention to heal and progress forward. as time went on and I lived with the song more, it took on a whole new significance in my own life, touching on my own self sabotaging tendencies and self-abandonment, shining a light on my shadow and the ways I try to fill in the gaps with distractions and falsely identifying with my own illusions. The video is an exploration of my multi-faceted nature, the ‘me’s’ living inside of me, and how they are often at war with each other, trying to mislead one another into believing they are the truest version of me, when they are just parts of a whole.
You talk about how you’ve learned about yourself in the song and how you’ve grown, what was it like putting these feelings into your music?
It’s relieving, but I’ve had to fight wars with myself to be able to get these feelings out. as an artist I’m always fighting for my art, and sometimes that means battling my ego. The soul wants to sing but the ego is worried about defending itself, its image, its honour. Being vulnerable and honest can be an incredibly painful and uncomfortable experience, but it’s like after childbirth, when a mother sees her baby for the first time. after all of the blood and pain, she is blinded with pure love and joy. I like to think I’m a mother and these songs are my kids.
Your upcoming EP is titled “claire” which is your middle name, why did you chose this name for your EP?
“claire” is one of the me’s living inside of me. She represents my virginal, youthful essence, the part of me that is naive, still has a lot to learn. “claire” sees the beauty in everything. she falls in love too easily and doesn’t love herself enough. “claire” also means clear, which reflects the pure, unfiltered state which she begins her journey. as the project goes on she becomes a lot “clearer” on what is real and what is illusion.
What were your main inspirations while creating the project?
Lust, heartache, separation, trauma, and rediscovery. I’m feeding you a pain sandwich but it’s nutritious as hell.
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
Definitely be on the lookout for more music and more videos from me. I’m looking forward to doing more shows and traveling!