MSM: First of all, I was just going to have you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background. How did you get your start in music, and was it something that you always knew you wanted to pursue?
KEYSE: Hi, my name is Keyse. I am a pop-rock artist from North Carolina, currently living in the midwest. I originally got my start in music initially in the church doing choir and that progress into being an opera singer in college. I am a two-time college dropout and now aspiring to be a rock star.
MSM: The dream!
KEYSE: Yeah! Living the dream.
MSM: How has music shaped who you are a person? Has it been a type of therapy for you?
KEYSE: I would say that the music that I write has been very cathartic for me. The way that I go about songwriting is very open and raw, and I just try to keep it as real as possible.
MSM: I have to ask, what does the wall next to you say?
KEYSE: Oh, over here? (Here’s the cat that I said was going to join us at some point.) This is a bedsheet that was used in my partner’s band’s music video. He is the vocalist of The Sherman Neckties, so it’s a bedsheet with The Sherman Neckties spray painted on it.
MSM: Which musicians do you admire most, and why?
KEYSE: Currently, I’m really into an artist called Ethel Cain. I don’t really know how to describe the genre of Ethel Cain, but she is a trans woman and she has kind of broken so many barriers and writes such emotive music and she kind of is the pinnacle of what I’m trying to achieve. I also draw a lot of inspiration from Halsey. Halsey is one of my favorite artists of all-time so she’s definitely very inspiring to me. Additionally, to that, another band that’s very inspiring to me is a band called Badflower. I take a lot of inspiration with how I approach writing based off of their full-length record. My first full length record is going to be topically very similar to their first record.
MSM: Ok. Yeah, I love Badflower. I got to shoot them last year
KEYSE: Yeah, they put on a great show.
MSM: They really do. One of my favorites, actually.
KEYSE: I agree. I’ve seen them a couple of times. They’re awesome.
MSM: So, what do you hope to achieve with creating music? Is there something in particular that you want people to take away from your songs?
KEYSE: I would say that, mostly, what I try to achieve is to just create something that causes a visceral reaction. I just want to make something that causes someone else to feel something. I’m not necessarily looking to inspire, but I would say that I just want to make something emotive, that leaves a mark.
MSM: I think you are. I just discovered you two days ago, and I’m kind of obsessed with “Circle” at this point. I was going around the apartment singing it today.
KEYSE: Oh, my gosh, awesome, that makes me so happy!
MSM: So, speaking of which, how would you describe that single (“Circle”)? Is there anything that you would like to share about the meaning, or just anything about it?
KEYSE: Yeah, so “Circle” is basically a song that, in a nutshell, is like straight up nihilism. It’s just this, I mean I use circle in a lot of different instances throughout the song, kind of like painting a sort of picture of just the feeling of circling back to the inevitable rock bottom that you’re going to hit. Or the cycle of you go through times where you’re happy and neutral and then you go back to the rock bottom feeling of nothing matters. So that’s basically what “Circle” is about is that cycle of coming back to the beginning.
MSM: What else are you passionate about besides music?
KEYSE: Well, I obviously love my furbabies.
MSM: I see this!
KEYSE: Even though this one is not mine, I’m just catsitting right now. I am passionate about animals, I’m a pretty big animal rights activist, I am a vegetarian, I’m entirely cruelty-free with the products that I buy, leading into my next thing — I’m a makeup artist, I do a little bit of hair on the side as well. I’ve done many music videos and photography shoots, some for some other people in the Triangle area (of NC) such as Flood District, I helped out on a Black Bouquet music video, there’s a couple other in the list as well. Also for my day job, I am in retail management, and I’m pretty passionate about my day job as well. So for the most part, that’s pretty much it — I love my music, I love my makeup, I love animals, and I love my team at my day job.
MSM: That’s awesome!
KEYSE: Thank you.
MSM: So how was it been like recording your debut album, and do you have an anticipated date:
KEYSE: I do not have an anticipated date, but I have a timeframe that I’m setting for myself as a goal. Hopefully by the end of Summer 2023, hopefully. I’m giving myself a year because I’m about 80% done. With that being said, I’ve been working on this record for about two years. I have been recording it in Detroit, MI, which is part of why we moved here. We started the record officially the day that everything shut down in the Pandemic, so as you can tell, it’s been a long time coming. It’s been a great experience. It’s shaping up to be very different than what I would imagine my first record to be like, but it’s been a very fulfilling and cathartic experience for me. I’m just very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my producer, to get to write the songs that I’m getting to write, and to share the stories that I get to share. It’s been really great. I’m about 80-90% done.
MSM: So do you have all of the songs written?
KEYSE: Yes, all of the songs are written, and 9 out of 10 of them have at least started the recording process. I have a song that I had done previously with a different producer that is the final song, so we’re going to re-do that song with my current producer, and make it what it needs to be to fit the record, thematically and sonically. Other than that, the other things I need to do is little tidbits here and there. It’s mostly fleshed out, it just needs fine-tuning at this point.
MSM: That’s exciting! I’m looking forward to hearing it. That’s my only complaint — you don’t have much out there. I want to hear more.
KEYSE: I had about 5 or 6 songs out, and then when I started working with my current producer, the quality was significantly different, and also I was re-branding as an artist. Prior I was more of a dark-pop artist and just more pop-leaning, I was very reminiscent of Crosses (Deftones side project) and like Chvrches. Just very much more pop-leaning than I currently am. But now I’ve rebranded more of like rock/pop-rock/metalcore-fusion artist. So I kind of removed that part of the discography with the hopes of re-recording it in the appropriate time.
MSM: Yeah, absolutely, you should be proud of what you have out there (the quality) and you want it to be representative of your sound. Well, that was actually all I had for you. Thanks for chatting!
KEYSE: Thanks for having me! Have a good one!