Singer-songwriter Keyawna Nikole recently released her single/music video, “Secrets,” featuring Kellin Quinn of Sleeping With Sirens.
The musical chemistry between the two is dramatized in the explosive video for “Secrets,” Keyawna’s fiery collaboration with Quinn, and the latest in a series of propulsive singles from the California artist.
In the clip, Quinn is pulled through a television screen into a glade where Keyawna and her ferocious band are performing, and before long, they’re joining voices. His anguished delivery is a perfect match for her soaring vocals.
For Quinn, a collaboration like this is nothing novel. He’s built a reputation for picking emerging artists to work with, irrespective of genre: he’s had hits with rappers-turned-rockers like Machine Gun Kelly, K-pop iconoclasts like Amber Liu, bands on the progressive fringe of pop-punk like Pierce The Veil, and others.
CelebMix spoke with Keyawna Nikole to discover the inspiration for “Secrets” and how she got started in music.
Why do you make music?
I personally feel the reason I make music is because it’s my only form of self-expression. It is my only form of comfort in such an uncomfortable world that we all live in. Without music, I personally feel I would have no purpose on this planet. I’m empty without my creative outlets.
What inspired your new single/music video, “Secrets?”
My new single, ‘Secrets’ was lyrically inspired by what it’s like to deal with mental illness; for me, specifically, depression, and what it’s like to cope. It’s also inspired by a lot of personal life experiences, whether it’s an unhealthy relationship or unhealthy thoughts towards your own self, these are all something I’m still dealing with and the only way I found that was a positive way to cope was through writing this record.
Visually the music video was heavily inspired by the movie ‘The Ring.’ I felt a deep connection with the main character Samara as everyone is trying to avoid her while she’s calling for help that they were misinterpreting. I wanted to bring that to life in my music video to explain what it’s like when you are battling with mental illness and sometimes our calls for help could actually have the opposite effect.
Who directed the video and where was it shot?
My music video was directed by Red Fox Productions, specifically Parke Fox, and it was shot at Cinepak Studios in North Hollywood, California.
Did you have any input on the video? If so, what?
Yes, I had a ton of input on the video; it was mainly my vision that I wanted to come to life which I was easily able to share with Red Fox Productions. We were able to build together off of my description of why I wanted ‘The Ring’ imagery and why I wanted to kind of reenact the key roles in the movie ‘The Ring.’ It was also so enjoyable because just like myself they are also huge Kellin Quinn fans.
How did you get started in music?
I’ve been making music all of my life. I started playing instruments in the fourth grade; my first instrument was an alto saxophone and from the fourth grade on, I was always writing songs or auditioning for roles and auditioning for performing arts schools. I just knew this was what I wanted to do, especially after seeing Pierce the Veil live in 2012 – that really inspired me to pursue it professionally.
How did you connect with Kellin Quinn?
I connected with Kellin Quinn through Instagram. I was also a mutual friend of many of his friends as well, and when I posted the snippet of the song before he was on it, he really loved it and asked if anyone was on it. I was so excited and sent it right over and within 24 hours, he had the record back to me, completed, and I was beyond excited.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
All of my writing is inspired solely by my life experiences, usually what I’m going through at that exact moment. My music is like an open book; it’s really a journal of my life. So, for me to put that out there to the public, it’s a lot of pressure, and it’s a lot of wondering if you’re going to get ridiculed for feeling a certain way but it’s also a huge relief to be able to get everything off of your chest in such a public manner.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
The artists that I think are really killing it right now are definitely Pierce the Veil, Bring Me the Horizon, Paramore, and all of the bands that were so inspiring when they were smaller 10 years ago and now are just making a full-circle comeback. I’m also heavily inspired by the scene that’s upcoming right now – the people that you wouldn’t necessarily know right off the bat, but they are some of the most powerful music artists: Lucifena, Cody Benjamin, Ricky P, and people that are genuinely inspired by many of these artists that we see all the time.
How do you define success?
My definition of success is happiness. It’s not a dollar value, it’s not a materialistic item, it’s simply being proud of the work that you’re putting out to the world and seeing it being received and healing other people. That’s the whole point of doing this; there’s no dollar amount that could take away the feeling of someone coming to you and telling you that your song changed their life.
How do you keep your sound consistent onstage?
Genuinely, I keep my sound consistent on stage by the blessings of my crew in their ability to queue my music correctly. It’s something that I’ve never been able to do. I was simply just here ready to sing my songs and hope for the best.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
Over the next six months, I have new music, new videos, and a project releasing, and I can’t wait to announce all the tours and shows, and just hug every single one of my supporters.
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