One would be hard pressed to try to find a better definition of her music than her very name. Keyrei, which literally means beautiful music that delights the senses or mind, embodies that definition in every aspect. With multiple singles from her 2009 debut album Therapy reaching no. 1 on the Independent Music Network, Keyrei proved herself as an artist, leaving no doubt that she was here to stay. Spending time with her ill father throughout his treatment until his passing gave her time to spend with God and reflect on life. This resulted in a spiritual awakening for Keyrei and the base Therapy was written upon. Although the album showcased her love of electronic music it also is a proverbial life scrapbook of sorts. She held nothing back while pouring herself and what was happening in the midst of her trial into the 13 song album.
Years later, she has impressed again. With the help of Shemika Secrest who vocally produced and co-produced every song on the album, a complete re-invention of L.A. based Keyrei’s sound was born. Her second album This Time, released February of 2014, has been a sound shift from electronica to an acoustic/pop one but is equally awesome. Keyrei’s flare for writing personal and heartfelt lyrics shines through every song on the album. Recording at Studio City Sound with owner and Grammy award winner Tom Weir, Keyrei pushed herself to the limits and then some making sure every piece of the album was nothing short of perfection and it paid off. Collaborating with such artists as Phil Parlapiano, Michael Torres, Ronald Kelly, Jr., David Chegwidden, Kyle Bolden, Dale Black, Jr., Chris Corprew, and Martin Estradahis, This Time’s gorgeous vocals and great musical arraignments work symbiotically to create a positive vibe the listener will be sure to feel even after the music has stopped.
After her fathers passing and losing true love Keyrei did what she did best, express her feelings with one and paper. Listening to the album in its entirety gives one a good mental picture of where this artist was in her life at the time the song was written. You can almost see her working through her struggles from beginning to end of each song while ultimately coming to a life decision, whether it be big or small.
Although losing love may have originally fueled her lyrics the proposal of her “true love” in 2011 also contributed. The title This Time was given to the album as a reminder to herself to not forget the heartache that was fresh in her mind and to always be vigilant in remembering what personal choices led to her pain.
Looking at the experiences she has shared with us in her music from Therapy to This Time made us wondering how the people close to her feel about her exposing such raw emotion and personal life stories with the world. We caught up with her while she has been promoting her music and working on new projects in Asia to ask her about it.
What was the driving force behind your decision to change up your music style from your debut album Therapy being Electronica to your new release This Time being more along the lines of pop/acoustic?
During the developmental stages of my first album, I was experimenting with genres that I really enjoyed, especially in the EDM scene, fusing them with more jazz/pop vocals. The catalyst to switching things up so dramatically came after deciding to perform my music live with a band. Once I did that, I was completely drawn to the organic feel and continued to translate my electronic songs on stage with live instruments and even acoustically. I started to play the ukulele and guitar and began rearranging my songs to fit that same vibe for the next album, This Time.
I still love House music and Drum and Bass, but I think my songs translate more personally stripped down and also without a lot of effects on my vocals. I’m always open to a great remix, but I believe I’ve found my true sound in This Time. Maybe, in the future I’ll try combining more live sessions with Electronic beats, but for now, I’m happy being able to play my ukulele while sharing my stories on stage with audiences.
You put a lot of yourself and your life experiences into your music and lyrics. Does it ever bother you that so many people have a window into some of the most fragile times of your life?
No, it doesn’t bother me at all. It is my only way of sharing what I am going through with my listeners as I try to stay pretty private in all other aspects of social media, etc. I think details of my private life can remain private, but my stories are my art and I am comfortable expressing my trials and triumphs in life through my music. As long as I can touch or have someone relate to any one of my experiences, I feel I have nothing to hide. Everyone goes through tough times, and music has always been my way of healing and therapy. Sometimes, I do get a little too personal during my commentary on stage and it can make my husband squirm!
Your second album This Time was written during a period of grief in your life caused by losing love yet it also has rays of hope with the song “Simon Says” written about your now husband and ‘”Last Song” promising yourself you’re moving forward in a positive direction. Do you see this album as a tool for personal reflection, reminding you of were you were in life versus where you are now?
Absolutely. I chose ‘This Time’ as the album title because it truly reflects where I want to be in present and future. I don’t want to find myself making the same mistakes over and over again…I want to vow that THIS TIME things are going to be different in many aspects of my life. The album was written during a very painful period in my life, but I feel that without having expressed all of those emotions, I wouldn’t even be the person I am today. I had to go through all of that pain in order to find the happiness I was searching for…
Your first album Therapy came out in 2009, how long were you singing/songwriting before your first release? What made you choose to go into making music?
I was singing since I was 2! The songwriting didn’t start until about 2006 but it came very naturally. My first song came to me in 15 minutes, and I rarely have writer’s block. The process of making my own music has been an indelible experience and I hope to be doing it for the very long time. Whether it is writing for myself or others, I enjoy putting words to music as a form of true personal expression.
I honestly never even knew I could write songs at all when I first started. I took some songwriting classes as well as music business on weekends for about a year. I always heard melodies in my head since I was a child, but once I began to put those melodies to words, I realized I had something here! I haven’t stopped since writing almost daily…
Your two albums are drastically different in terms of style of music so I have to ask, what are your top three songs on your iPod lately and who do you consider your biggest influence?
I love reggae, jazz and anything that smells like soul! My top 3 songs these days are “The Worst” by Jhene Aiko, “To The Sea” by Kimie, and “Black Gold” by Esperanza Spalding. I’m kind of going through this weird love, hate thing right now with some people in my life and I find these songs uplifting and also very real.
Some of my influences are definitely Amy Winehouse, Sade, Corinne Bailey Rae, and John Legend. I remember I wanted to start a career in music after a friend of mine gave me copies of Amy Winehouse’s Frank and Lilly Allen’s Alright, Still back in 2006. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in music before, but as an adult, listening to their lyrics, making me laugh and really ponder about my relationships, I thought, hey…I think I can do this, too. I love all of these artists and so many more, but my biggest influences come from my relationships with people, my husband, and God. Maybe some day, I’ll write about something more random, but until then, that’s pretty much the gist of it!
Artist Name: Keyrei
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Label: VOA Music Group