Minnesota songstress Kelese infused R&B with neo-soul and sources inspiration from her previous heartbreaks and experiences as a woman. “I’m here to inspire everybody. Every soul that I can touch is the goal for sure,” she shares over Zoom.
This year, Kelese has treated her fans to a slew of short-length projects aptly titled MSP-ATL. The four installments are broken into themes and boast favorites such as “Let Me Know” and “Fake.” Not to mention the viral triumph of Kelese’s maxi-single “Krazy + Complicated” which has risen to be one of her most popular works to date. One way or another, the Minnesota talent is making her mark in the R&B and neo-soul scene.
We had the chance to chat with Kelese about her music, influences, goals, and a bit more. Read the conversation below and keep your eyes peeled for the rising artist!
If you don’t mind, tell me a bit about yourself—how would you describe your music?
I got into music by my dad honestly, he’s always rapped since I was born. It runs in my family, my sister writes, my brother does music. I feel like I was the only one to go for you and actually do music. I would describe my music different to be honest. I feel that I can either talk shit on a song or talk about how sad I am or the stuff that’s happened in my short life. It’s very different, I feel like each time I come with something new that no one has heard with my previous drops.
Who were some of your musical influences growing up and how about now?
Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, J Dilla, Maxwell. I am a neo-soul baby, I grew up on it and I will forever die by it. It’s not a dying genre, believe it not. Now in hip-hop, it’s been intertwined in ways that you wouldn’t think it came from neo-soul.
What’s it like being from Minnesota? Would you say this has directly influenced your sound?
If I’m going to be honest, I don’t think we really have a sound here. Everyone sounds so different. I feel like the Midwest here, we don’t really have a sound. I feel like my sound was really curated through my own experiences, being in the back of my mom and dad’s car.
When you’re in the booth recording, do you come equipped with a concept and a song already written?
It really varies, some days I’ll have stuff written and some days I’ll feel real creative. It varies on the feeling of how I feel at the moment. For the most part, I’ll have a song or two on the side just in case so I’m not wasting time. I gotta have a plan B but other than that, that’s pretty much it.
Translating my thoughts and feelings into music is the hardest part. People think it’s easy to write a song based on a theme you’re trying to create. We have to give songwriters way more credit because to have a blank canvas is a lot harder than people think it is.
You put out a series of EP’s this year, can you tell me a bit about those?
My EP’s were all just a mixture of songs that I worked on last year, 2019, and this year. We pretty much just put all the songs that fit together into little installments. I was really happy to drop those because I had so much music in the vault. It was so excited to show what I’ve been working on and all the growth that I’ve been going through musically.
In your music, there’s a lot of romantic push and pull which makes me wonder, how do you define love?
I am a hopeless romantic! I love me some love, I love being in love, I love the idea of love. Unfortunately, we all have to have heartbreak and go through things in relationships especially when you’re young and don’t know anything. I just love to love in general and I want to push it so much. I know sometimes it can be annoying but the world needs more of it. Love to me is like the best feeling ever.
Who do you make music for or is there a demographic in particular that you’re looking to inspire?
No, I’m here to inspire everybody. Every soul that I can touch is the goal for sure.
Lastly, where do you see the direction of your music, as well as yourself, going in the next few years?
I see myself touring and just doing everything I can. I see myself coming who I am musically and growing my fan base. I’m just excited for the next few years because I just want to do so much in a little time. I hope to drop a debut album for sure, more visuals. I hope to collaborate with a lot more people; I think those are the main goals.
If you enjoyed our interview with Kelese, check out our conversation with Li 9!