aries sun, taurus moon, taurus rising
american canyon, california via nyarombo, tanzania
never linear, always direct
Her music is universal and personal, raw but gemlike, honest – and honester. kezia is many things to many people, and she is always true to herself. Holding a lie-free looking glass up she allows us to see ourselves too. kezia is queen of the sonic confessional, the mistress of mirror music.
kezia grew up American Canyon, California with an American mom and a Tanzanian dad. When you grow up biracial, you either work to belong or you need to create another place that works for you. “Some kid at an afterschool club asked my mom if I was a refugee, and I thought, well, maybe I am?! My journey has been to find out who I am, and where the fuck I can be at.”
There was always music at home, from My Chemical Romance to Fela Kuti, Papa Wemba to Paramore, and kezia heard it all in colour. Not fitting into any available world as imagined by other people meant she had to see through other lenses, listen for other frequencies. She’s not the first person whose parents didn’t understand her, nor was she the first to be medicated for it: “I got diagnosed with ADHD and depression when I was 11, it seemed like pills were the answer to everything, and the only possible solution there was.” Adept at questioning things from early on, kezia hid the pills. An early epiphany: “I saw then that the goal is not to be perfect, the goal is to fucking learn something. And when the learning stops, that’s when to get worried.”
At school, she was “An emo kid who didn’t even know how to do her own hair.” Performing saved her. “It went from being the thing she did instead of having to be social to the space where she could feel free. “Shout out my drama teacher, Ms Heartt. She was honestly my best friend in high school.” She learnt guitar too (“I had a huge crush on my guitar teacher!” – obviously, a huge incentive to learn) and got introduced to Amy Winehouse and Bossa Nova, to the liquid slinky metallic sound that a well-loved guitar makes.
Music became her medicine. “During a decade of living with mental instability, music – and spirituality – has been my constant. They’ve kept me from killing myself…making these songs….it feels like I’m writing a letter to them. I have them to thank.”
At 17, kezia started putting out music – made with her friend and still collaborator Thomas Jordan – up on Soundcloud. “‘Rubies’, our first track got 80 likes! I was just some weird kid, and people were giving me Likes!” Emboldened, she started hitting underground art parties in Vallejo, Oakland, San Francisco and performing at them, “Making friends with other weird and different people helped me be myself and feel accepted for it. Exposing myself allowed myself to be shaped by different energies.”
kezia’s middle name is claire. Clear as. It’s also the name of her first EP, out in late May. Her sound is her own, coloured by another form of r&b and shaded with American pop, filtered through her Gen Z sensibilities. “My deepest vulnerabilities are present in my music,” she admits, “And ‘claire’ is my honest and unguarded introduction to the lessons of learning to love through love.”
kezia co-produced her first official single ‘Megan Fox’ with Hokage Simon and Thomas Jordan. “The truth is I write from a pretty unconscious space. I wasn’t writing this about a particular person, but more so as a tribute to ancestral and angelic forces that protect and ground me.”
“Sunshine” is single #2. “When I wrote ‘Sunshine’, I thought the ‘you’ was my boyfriend at the time. But when I listened to that ‘you’ now, I know it’s me, my own self.” The song expresses how, before she learned to be herself, she would be largely absent, having steamrollered over her inconvenient inconsistencies, replacing ego with shadow, hope with fear. Thus: ‘I move with the sunshine / You bleed in the night time.’
In kezia, difference has found its clearest voice. “I don’t think I’m ever gonna not feel different,” she muses. “But it’s not the end of the world, it’s the start of something – I’m comfortable with it now. And I’m definitely not scared of it.”
Nowadays, we’re focusing on ditching the perfect and the unobtainable with all the mindfuck opportunities they’re cargoed with, and we’re craving to listen to someone authentic: a real and open friend, happy and at home with their flaws. kezia is that person: young, but sound and wise, honest with you and with herself. kezia is the torchbearer for today’s truths.
“Sunshine” will be available on all streaming platforms on 3/17; “claire” drops 5/28.
Publicity Contact: Jaclyn Ulman