KeiyaA: The artist is here for her things
Forever, Ya Girl was one of the defining albums of 2020, but the work is just beginning. And KeiyaA is more than ready.
The Abalone shell KeiyaA holds up to her laptop camera still shimmers though it’s dusted with ash. That sooty residue is a testament to how often she uses the ashtray when she needs to get her mind right. “I usually always have some sort of resin or incense burning,” she says during our afternoon call this past autumn. “Palo Santo, frankincense and sandalwood; those are the smells that make me feel at home and safe.” Also nearby, she grabs a smooth hunk of rose quartz the size of her hand. The bright pink gemstone, shining between her teal, stiletto nails, reminds her to be kind to herself.
Some of KeiyaA’s other tools are visible over her shoulder. Cables neatly coiled on a pegboard, synths and similar equipment sitting edge to edge on a metal rack. But it’s her cache of spiritual items she relies on when she needs to be able to create. They were there last year when KeiyaA was struggling to make rent, weeks away from an illegal eviction, shaping her album on an old laptop. At the time of our call, she’s just months into exploring her music career with some semblance of stability. She answers my deluge of questions between pulls from a joint in the Bushwick apartment that’s now her home. “I always struggle with being kind and gentle to myself. So I always want to have that as a reminder,” she says of the rose quartz stone, “like, ‘Girl, you’re good. You’re fine.’”