“Stooping so low, that’s how you go, got nowhere to go…” such are the lyrics to Keyana’s – real name Melanie Kasise – velvety single Scorpio which was released in November of last year. By the looks of her immensely successful 2020 though, the almost-18-year-old’s got just about everywhere to go and beyond. One The New Paper New Face competition and Mannequin Studios modelling contract later, the Singaporean-Ghanaian recording artiste, model and dancer has found herself amidst a burgeoning and palpitating music scene that has taken to her laissez-faire brand of cool. “I grew up loving Mandopop, K-pop and R&B. Finally, in 2019, I chose to step into music and song-writing. I jammed with other producers and musicians to learn and really explore making music,” she adds.
The result was Keyana’s Flightsch-produced debut single, Save It, a straight-shooting break up anthem which proved to be monumental factor in catapulting her into the realm of artistes-to-watch. Both tracks were accompanied by music videos – directed by the buzzy Island Boys Collective – unveiling Keyana’s instinctive penchant for style in the process. Some of her most memorable looks include pieces from youth culture-inspired Ghostboy.Club, London-based label Charlotte Knowles as well as Gucci.
As we speak, Keyana’s EP, slated for release in 2021, is in the works. While she cites American soul and R&B singer Kehlani and rapper J Cole as some of her dream collaborators, she remains relatively tight-lipped about what we can expect. “It’ll be a very sentimental EP,” she shares, alongside the hint that there will be accompanying merchandise. Here, Keyana lets us in on the peaks and valleys that come with being one of the youngest artists on the scene right now.
How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it before?
To be very honest, I don’t know exactly how to describe my music. Currently, I’d say I’d describe it as mellow, or “a vibe”, really.
So…what’s the deal with Scorpios?
I had a bad encounter with a Scorpio. I don’t hate all Scorpios though, just that one!
What have some of your biggest struggles been both personally and professionally?
My biggest struggles both personally and professionally would have to be discrimination, tokenism and stereotyping.
You’ve also cultivated a voice for not only minority creatives, but for up-and-coming young artistes – which can often take a lot of time, energy and grit. What did it take for you to get to a point to be able to express these thoughts freely?
I’ve really just come to understand that if you don’t do it, no one will. If I don’t choose to speak up for people that are in a similar position, you really don’t know when someone else will. Choosing to do so is never easy, though. It takes a lot of courage. All I would say is – always remember your initial intention, and who you’re doing it for. That’s how I comfort myself whenever I face any hate on social media after speaking up.
Let’s talk about your style. How would you describe it?
Comfortable, street and feminine.
Tell us about an outfit in particular that you feel the best in.
It would have to be a baggy pair of jeans, a neutral coloured top paired with a cap and a pair of sneakers.
Photography Joel Low
Styling Gregory Woo
Hair Junz Loke using Kevin Murphy Singapore
Makeup Wee Ming using Laura Mercier
Photography Assistant Alfie Pan
Subject Keyana in Tiffany & Co. and Saint Laurent
This article first appeared in the March 2021 issue of L'Officiel Singapore.