After taking some time away in what Kehlani has described as a rebirth, Kehlani takes us on a rejuvenated experience with the release of their third and highly anticipated album blue water road.
The 13-song album executively produced by Andrew ‘Pop’ Wansel alchemizes a journey of Kehlani’s evolution of settling into a new rhythm, making listeners feel like they are slowly, purposefully and physically journeying along the blue water road.
Featuring powerhouse acts including Thundercat, Justin Bieber and Ambre’, blue water road is a sentimental offering, and an album Kehlani wants listeners to laugh, smile and cry to.
Previous projects Kehlani has released into the world have been shadowed by an undercurrent of sultry and necessary darkness, and now, with the essence of someone who has found their true light, Kehlani reveals “blue water road is a destination in my mind. I’m giving everyone access. It’s an emotional journey, a sexual journey, and a spiritual journey. To me, the album is like a glass house. It’s light, transparent, and the sun is shining right through it”.
To celebrate the release of blue water road, we sat down with Kehlani to learn more about the moments of joy and clarity they poured into this album.
Kehlani settles into our zoom interview on their couch at home in California, smiling after sharing that they just returned from surfing all day and questions whether there are sharks in Australia, daring me to break the news that there is.
With a glow and peace that bears witness to their evolution, through our interview, Kehlani shares the origins and purpose of their latest project that gives listeners a space to exhale.
Big congratulations on the release of your new album blue water road. How are you feeling about sharing this project with the world?
I’m just excited man, I’m excited that [the world] gets to have something from me that’s really positive and happy, and wholesome, and just a good time. It’s been a long time since I released so much joyous music and I’m excited to be in that place.
I know that before making this album you took some away that you’ve described as a rebirth. Can you share something you learnt during this time that has influenced this project?
The main thing that I learned is that I have to resemble the character that I wish to see in the world, and that I wish to see around me and that I should be loved by. I think that oftentimes we demand this treatment from the world and people and places and spaces, [but] we don’t analyse if we are being that ourselves. So, I really had to [ask myself] “Am I showing up the way that I want people to treat me and the way that I want people to show up in the world?” And as soon as I decided to, things just started coming. I was attracting all types of positive things after that.
What do you want your listeners to experience as they’re journeying through blue water road?
I want them to smile. I want them to laugh, to dance, to cry, to share it with people and be like ‘Oh my god did you hear this? Do you like this?’, you know, I want them to exhale.
What does the title blue water road represent to you? Is it a physical place or a metaphor?
It is both! It’s an actual street in Malibu that we started recording the album on, and it’s like a location stamp as to where we were at while making the album and how peaceful and beautiful and fun the process was.
There are some really special acts you’ve teamed up with on this album. Is there one person in particular that you really resonate with or who shares your vision?
Oh man, I feel like [it would be] Ambre’ who is the last feature on the album. She is one of my closest friends and she just has this amazing quality about her to be fearless when it comes to creating, but also be so focused, she is laser-sharp focused. I am inspired so often by her and her ability to make something and make it better and go in again and again. I’ve always been so relaxed, and when I make something I’m like ‘Yeah it’s cool, fine, whatever’ but my friends around me are like ‘Let’s just add on to it, and build, and make it different’.
You have made recent mentions on your social accounts about your child-self. Does your inner child play a role in creating music and directing?
She absolutely does. I think your inner child has a role in any possible creative thing that you do. I think ultimately, [your inner child] is what gets satisfied when you make something. That is where the joy comes from and that desire to show it to someone because it’s so tight. I think it’s the adult self that starts thinking about the monetisation and the accolades and the planning and the roll out. But everything that is purely artistic is coming from little me [inside].
What is your songwriting process like? How do you convert feelings and experiences to paper?
I feel like you can listen to any of my songs and hear it’s like I was writing a letter. If I’m talking to someone, it’s like I’m writing it directly to them. If I am talking to myself, I’m writing directly to myself. I very often have songs where I’m describing something. It’s always a conversation and I feel like I’m a self-soother in that way. I have to have the conversations with myself. The things that cheer me up are having a conversation with somebody and them telling me something I need to hear, and me telling them something they needed to hear. I’m very reliant on reflection in that kind of way and so I feel like that’s how I get my emotions out. It’s pretty much like having a therapist, but it’s myself [laughs].
Kind of like journaling those reflections, right?
Yeah, I write [music] like it’s a journal for sure!
What’s your wildest dream?
Man, my wildest dream? My wildest dream is to move out of the country one day and live in a really tiny place by a beach and speak another language and be wildly in love and have happy kids.
Have you thought about where that will be?
Brazil. For sure. It’s my four-year plan [laughs].
What’s next for you after this album? What parts of you are you hoping to explore for your next project?
I’m looking forward to touring. I can’t wait to tour, I’m so ready. And what parts of me am I looking to explore on my next project? Man, I just want to do something out of the box. I don’t know if it’s going to happen [laughs], but I really want to make something that I think is the tightest thing that I’ve ever heard. I really want to impress myself. I impressed myself with [this project] for sure but I really want to freak myself out.
Do you have any plans on taking this tour to Australia?
Of course. Every time I tour, I’ve got to come back [to Australia]. I’m coming back for that food in Perth. I had some food in Perth, at some vegan bakery breakfast spot for my birthday around this time in 2017 or 2018, and I’m coming back for that banana bread!
Shout-out to Perth! You have to come and visit the Gold Coast to surf. I give you my word it will be one of the best places you’ll surf at.
I’m putting a pin on it, and I’m writing it down because my goal is to surf on this tour.
Thanks so much for your time tonight, Kehlani, lovely to chat with you.
You’re welcome. Thank you!
Follow Kehlani here for more and stream the new album ‘blue water road’ here.