Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: KAISHA

The neo-soul artist talks all things music ahead of the release of her sophomore EP, “If Not Now Then When”.

Kaisha

Photography: Nina Porteous

Kaisha
Photography: Nina Porteous

If there is one force that has the potential to quell the mid-week blues, it is the sumptuous sounds of neo-soul. Should you be looking for a melodic remedy for this exact reason, look no further than Kaisha’s newest EP, “If Not Now Then When”. Divine in tone and packed full with ripples of acoustic instrumentation, a lounge-like sound prevails throughout the EP, one sure to have you in a serene state of relaxation. And, to top it all off, with tracks such as “Temporary” and “Walk Away” boasting features from the likes of other industry players, such as Raquel Martins and Osquello, Kaisha confirms herself as a musical genius worthy of the name.

“I was really keen on collaborating with other artists and musicians this time around. It’s nerve-wracking asking people to work with me, but it was all worth it. It got me out of my comfort zone. I also wanted it to sound different from my first EP, sonically and musically, and collaborating with different musicians definitely helped with that,” explains the talent when pondering the collaborative nature of her tracks.

Upon the release of her EP, the artist sat down for a chat with Wonderland about her father’s influence on her music and the elevated nature of her newest release. Head below to enjoy our interview with Kaisha…

Hey Kaisha, how are you? How has this past year been?
I’m good, thanks! A lot better than I was a few months ago. I went through a bit of an existential crisis when I hit 25, nothing life-shattering but, you know, the kind that really makes you question who you are and what you want to be.

With the pandemic affecting so many lives, do you think it affected your creativity?
To a degree. Luckily I was furloughed for the first half of it, which meant I had so much time. I used that to my advantage and got a lot of songwriting in uninterrupted, but over time it got kind of boring. I ran out of things to write about, but once things reopened and some sort of normality resumed, I got pretty overwhelmed. With new music coming out left and right, it was a little difficult to readjust to the speed at which the world was moving. It definitely stumped my creativity a little.

Talk us through your musical history, what sparked your interest in music?
Family. I started with my dad – he’s a singer-songwriter in Malaysia. I used to write hits for these two Malaysian rock legends M. Nasir, and Ramli Sarip. Loves blues, especially Leonard Cohen. I grew up watching him play gigs all over Kuala Lumpur, where I used to live, and that passion trickled down to both my older brothers and then me. We all now have a career in music!

Where are you from? Do you think your home town impacted your sound in any way?
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! I think maybe initially, K.L has a huge underground scene for house and techno music, and in my teens, I was heavily into that. I came to the UK with my mindset on writing music similar to Disclosure, but the London and Brighton music scene changed me. I honestly can’t believe I only got properly introduced to Jazz, R&B and Soul in 2015. I was already really familiar with 2000s R&B which was essentially pop back then, but the fusion of those genres that is so emblematic of UK R&B really resonated with me.

And now you’re about to drop your EP! Talk us through your mindset approaching the project?
I was really keen on collaborating with other artists and musicians this time around. It’s nerve-wracking asking people to work with me, but it was all worth it. It got me out of my comfort zone. I also wanted it to sound different from my first EP, sonically and musically, and collaborating with different musicians definitely helped with that.

How do you think it differs from your first EP?
Personally, it feels more polished to me. Production and songwriting wise. Maybe the word I’m looking for is elevated – it feels like me from the debut EP ten times better.

Kaisha cow print
Kaisha ocean
Kaisha cow print
Photography: Nina Porteous
Kaisha ocean

You had a lot of doubts about putting out the songs, why is that? And how did you overcome these fears?
It was a lot of self-doubt. Unfortunately, I believed I just wasn’t good enough. As you know, social media goes hand in hand with music nowadays. I always try to be myself online, for the most part anyway, but the visibility scared me. I struggled knowing there were parts of me that I couldn’t show or write about as I constantly felt like I was being judged. Then with the music, I suddenly felt like I wasn’t being true enough in my writing and before I knew it, I was already thinking of abandoning the songs. Then, I kind of just faced my fears. I recently came out to my family as bi, which was a huge step. I decided to be honest with them and myself about who I really was. I’m glad I pushed the tracks out even when I was feeling like shit because I’ve come out the other end now, and I’m proud of it all.

What do you want people to take away from your music?
That I’ve put and will continue putting my blood, sweat and tears into it. I have quite literally moved halfway across the world to pursue this crazy dream of mine. If that doesn’t say determination, then I don’t know what does.

Who would you say inspires you?
Myself actually. I’m not sure if that’s a narcissistic thing to say, but I don’t mean it in that way! Some days when I feel like I’m lost, I listen to the voice memos of all my favourite ideas on my phone that haven’t been turned into recorded songs yet. It reminds me that I am good at what I do. But other than myself, I’ve been really inspired seeing other immigrants and BIPOC make it in the UK’s creative industry. It’s just so nice to see someone who looks like me being celebrated for their individuality.

What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
I’ve just been chosen as the AudioActive Emerge 2021/2022 artist, funded by PRS Foundation. I’m funnelling all of that into my next project, which will be about my individuality and personal growth. I’m diving head-first into the deep end and will be writing a lot about myself from a vulnerable place. Something for which I’m excited and nervous as I’ve never tapped into that. I’m just really looking forward to writing all this new material!

NEW NOISE: KAISHA

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