- Words Cal McIntyre
The newest reigning R&B princess, Kiana Ledé, is a force to be reckoned with - we catch up with the songstress amidst isolation to talking healing, falling in love and how you have to lose yourself to find yourself.
As the media world adapts to the trials and tribulations of Zoom in all their awkward and comfortable glory, having a video chat with Kiana Ledé is anything but uncomfortable or awkward. Kiana is just happy to be following her morning ritual of having a coffee and reflection, it seems like the perfect time to chat to the new R&B champion on what has been a whirlwind of a time for the young woman.
2020 has seen a lot of things come its way and it’s only April (!?), but one of the rays of lights to come out of this bizarre year is Kiana Ledé cementing herself as one the boldest and brightest acts to burst through the R&B airwaves. If you’re blissfully unaware of Kiana, then you would have 100% heard her unique brand of nostalgic R&B. Kiana is responsible for bangers such as the gold-certified “EX,” “Fairplay,” and “Bouncin’” [feat. Offset] with nearly 200 million streams and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down. Kiana pretty much soundtracked 2019 and for that we are grateful.
Working with our favourites Lucky Daye and Ari Lennox to name a few, Kiana is definitely following in the footsteps of the greats who came before her whilst paving the way for those to follow. Kiana’s debut album ‘KIKI’ is a perfect representation of who this young woman is today. The balance in her life – covering everything that a young 20-something would face growing up in a fast and relentless landscape. Kiana reveals every side of herself through her honest and prolific lyricism – the vulnerability, the vitality, the anger, the lust, the loyalty, the joy, the darkness and the truth.
While no one expected 2o20 to go the way it has, it’s important to always let hope run through you. We caught up with the enchantress over Zoom to check how she’s doing in isolation, what it’s like to release an album in a world that none of us understands right now and how she’s keeping faith even in the darkest of times.
Dive in below, stay safe and stream ‘KIKI’!
With pressures to be consistently productive in these weird times, Kiana tells me. “The only set routine I have right now is this fancy cup of coffee every morning [laughs].” And she’s right – we should all be taking this time to truly pause, reflect on our values and who we are as humans rather than trying to maintain and a fast-paced routine that really doesn’t exist anymore.
Starting off the year with both feet forward, Kiana poured her heart and soul into her debut album ‘KIKI’. If that wasn’t enough, she lifted the veil to the process of creating ‘KIKI’ as she let her fans peek behind the curtain with documentary-style episodes that centred around the creation of ‘KIKI’. When I ask her about the driving force behind this idea, Kiana tells me, “The thing I love the most about my career is that I get to truly be honest about who I am as a person and who I am as an artist. I wanted to be able to show the world more of that – this album got really personal and it got really deep. I wanted to put some context behind the process, and I am really lucky that I have a team of creative people around me where I can be truly open and honest.”
It seems like we are all truly learning things about ourselves through this pandemic, as we are often able to hide our emotions in the fast-paced society we used to live in. Now, we don’t really have a choice but to sit with our feelings and dissect them. When I ask Kiana about if she has learned anything about herself she tells me “Yeah for sure – this whole situation has really cemented the fact that I am really emotional. I think the scariest thing for me in lockdown is having to be with your own thoughts, you can’t run from them anymore, but it’s forcing me to do that and I’m kinda grateful for it.”
When it comes to Kiana’s creative routine, she lets me know that ‘KIKI’ was “a little different than usual,” Kiana begins. “Normally, I would see songs as products that I’m pushing out and I want it to be finished as fast as it can. But this time around I really took my time with them and let go of trying to be as quick as I can. It actually turned out to be really rewarding taking the pressure off.” Kiana confesses she’s a hard overthinker, and that this lockdown is proving difficult to try and reign that side of her mind in. “I’ve been trying to educate myself,” Kiana tells me, “I’m someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, so I’m trying to sit with myself and educate myself on how the brain works and becoming aware of your own thoughts.”
Clearly a self-aware person, Kiana is able to reflect on the world inside of her whilst the world around her changes by the day. Whilst it’s important to maintain creative and inspired for your own self, Kiana believes too that this time is important “to simply chill – you don’t have to be the next best author by the time we come out of this, you can just chill and that’s fine.” Wise beyond her years, Kiana knows that when we come out of this situation she is going to be on the road for a long long time, so right now she is making the most of her downtime to read books and play puzzles and of course, have her morning coffee.
When we do eventually come out of this darkness and back into the light, Kiana tells me that the energy she wants to give off to her adoring fans is ultimately a feeling of empowerment. “I like blackout when I’m the stage,” Kiana laughs,” but the feeling I always have within myself is a sense of empowerment, so that’s exactly how I want my fans to feel when they see me live. But, on the flip side, I’m always very vulnerable when I am on stage because of the nature of my music. It forces me to be confident, I’m talking about topics that mean a lot to me and I have to be empowered when singing about them.”
Whilst Kian’s debut album ‘KIKI’ covers a vast array of topics, the underlying thread seems to come back to love. Whether it’s good love, bad, love for yourself or love for others – it’s ultimately a driving force behind Kiana. “I always talk about this,” Kiana opens up, “love is such a confusing thing because no one really knows what love is or what’s the rules on how it should feel. I think it’s something that grows and has different phases. I’m a very pessimistic person, so I think my idea of love is constantly changing.” When we finish up on the conversation of love, Kiana concludes, ” I guess it’s just wanting the best for someone, right? And wanting to share in that with them.”
It’s refreshing to hear an artist like Kiana who has been full steam ahead for a while now press pause and let herself enjoy the stillness. She has certainly worked hard enough for it, and with an amazing debut album like ‘KIKI’, she has earned her stripes as one of the best young storytellers in the R&B soundscape. After all, if you’re not rested, how can you create to your fullest? So, expect big things from Kiana Ledé sooner rather than later.