Barely legal at 17, KEYANA broke into the fashion scene at a tender age of 14 when she was crowned 2nd runner up for The New Paper’s “New Face” model search, and has since worked on shoots for global brands such as Nike and Simmons Korea. She attributes a lot of her success to her upbringing, growing up in a home surrounded by music and dance, with an extremely supportive mother who signed her up for a kids’ runway show when she was 7, throwing her into the deep end of the fashion world that built up her poise and confidence.
Being of mixed descent, part Chinese and part Ghanian, she sometimes gets subjected to racist slurs in Singapore. Not that it really bothers her, as seen from how she has risen above all the noise. Even with the ongoing crisis, she embraces a positive spirit and has been entertained by the use of technology, and will continue “to put [herself] out there as an artist and give myself time and space to improve” and of course, to constantly challenge herself to write better.
“Stop Flaming, Start Reclaiming.”
Her new R&B inspired track, “Save It”, is rooted in a lost love that had been borne out of a great friendship, after discovering the other party had fallen for her. Rather than dwelling on the pain of losing a friend, she shared, that her “automatic response was to hope that he wouldn’t say anything to protect what they have.” Save it baby, don’t say it.
Popspoken: Tell us more about your childhood. Why did your parents start you on learning to dance so early on?
Keyana: My childhood was amazing, my mother gave me the opportunity to learn as many things outside of school. She sent me to ballet, tap and jazz classes when I was only 3 years old. Apparently, I was very active when I was young and always started moving when music came on.
Popspoken: What tracks shaped your taste as you grew up. Were there any tracks or musical icons that stuck out for you?
“If I Were A Boy” by Beyoncé, “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Pretty Young Thing” by Michael Jackson. I always have these songs in my phone growing up. Beyoncé and Michael Jackson definitely stuck out to me the most.
Popspoken: Did you encounter any form of racism in Singapore since you’ve moved here. If yes, could you share with us some stories?
There have been times where I’ve overheard people talking about me, in Mandarin, assuming I don’t understand. The misuse of the ’N’ word around me also happens. The insensitivity towards my culture, hairstyle, etc. But growing up encountering these situations definitely made me stronger and I’ve grown to understand that people can be ignorant, so when people are being unkind, I’ve not to take it too personally and protect my energy.
Popspoken: What about sneaker culture do you love. Tell us which are your top 3 picks and why.
My top three picks would definitely include Jordan 1s in every colour. They are one of my “must-haves”; they are easy to match and style with. The Nike Air Max 95s are my favourite pair of shoes to dance in, they’re just so comfortable. I’ve always had a soft spot for Nike Dunks as well.
Popspoken: How do you maintain your focus on a particular genre, considering there’s just so many options of how to define your sound.
It wasn’t very difficult for me to focus on a particular genre, I feel like R&B is part of me. I listen to it every day and my biggest influences are R&B artists.