Inside interview with artist Kelela

Selena Roberts | Staff Writer

Kelela Mizanekristos, otherwise known as Kelela, is a singer/songwriter who is far from afraid to express herself.

She experiments with her music and seeks to break down barriers with her craft. Kelela is known for her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, her EP, Hallucinogen, and her most recent album, Take Me Apart.  Recently, our Arts and Entertainment writer, Selena Roberts, had the pleasure of interviewing her.

SR: What are your musical influences?:

K: I have a lot of different influences. Some are abstract and some are literal. They include Natalie Cole, Joni Mitchell, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey.

SR: What is your background in music?:

K: Neither of my parents played music. I played the violin for about ten years [starting] in the fourth grade. I would [also] sing in choir.

SR: How would you describe your music?:

K: I would say that it is rooted in R&B. Vocally, that is where I am coming from in terms of style. In terms of production, I am influenced in electronic. When I think about making music on machines, I think of Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Timbaland.

SR: What advice would you give someone who is trying to make it in the music industry?:

K: There are different stages of your journey. Identifying where you are in your journey first is important. There’s a lot of frustration when you do not know where you are.

People [also] need to remember that there’s so much work and so much effort needed. There’s a lot of failure, and not in an abstract sense. It’s important for people to be okay with where they are first in their journey. Think [more] about being honest than being big. Be true to yourself before selling it to other people.

SR: How would you describe your sense of style?:

K: I’m all things. There are different moods for different events that I go to. When I dress for a show, I have to be comfortable. I have to be able to move and jump in [my outfit]. There can’t be any restrictions. It’s hard to pinpoint my actual style. I always wanted to embody different things. There’s an element of futurism. I would say there is something classic that exists in the thread that I like. It’s about mixing and matching.

SR: How do you calm down before a performance?:

K: I practice scales. I’ll practice scales in the shower. It’s a good way to calm down and be in my own universe. I enjoy being quiet. I’ll try to find a way to be confined.

SR: Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?:

K: Hopefully, there’s elements of this that I don’t know. There’s elements that I can’t predict. Definitely enterprise, building a business that helps other women in the music industry, specifically women of color.

I want to give them a set of tools that will help them navigate the industry. There’s a reality check that women will go through. My interest is to provide an institution for artists, [especially] women of color, to come in, get briefed and get a set of tools to thrive.

There are black people in the industry on the artist perspective; but on the business side, it is shocking to see the lack of people of color.

SR: What would you be doing now if you were not performing?:

K: I would be pursuing a PhD, to be honest. I would be getting [a PhD for] doing the same thing I am doing now through the music platform.

SR: What social media platforms can your fans find you on?:

K: Mainly on Instagram and on Twitter. I have a Facebook page that is less personal, I would say. I am not as active on Snapchat. Those are the main outlets for me.

Want to get to know Kelela a bit more? Check out her latest project, Take Me Apart, available on Apple Music, and follow Kelela on Twitter and Instagram @kelelam.

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