Life

Keiynan Sucks: “Sometimes The Vibes Are Not That Great, But Those Are The Vibes”

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Western Sydney musician/actor Keiynan loves love.

He’s just released his new project, The Heart Defence Mixtape, and it’s full of velvety R&B tracks that’ll make you think of that special someone. The project is sultry and slow-burning, perfect for late-night reflections about love and intimacy. Inspired by Usher, he says that on the project, “I’m singing about loving men, these are the kind of love songs and the smooth R&B pop that I wished I heard when I was growing up.”

To mark the release of The Heart Defence Mixtape, Junkee caught up with Keiynan to talk about understanding the truth about truth, getting pigeonholed by label executives, and battling against comparison. Keiynan, as it turns out, also really loves spinning around in circles. Inspirational.

Junkee: A mistake that turned into an opportunity?

I don’t particularly believe in mistakes, I believe in lessons. I would say that, even if I may feel like I’ve gone down the wrong path, I eventually find my way back to the right path, and I actually have a better and deeper understanding of why it is the right path. Then I think, if I never went down that wrong path, and I just guessed my way into the right path, I wouldn’t really know why it’s the right path, and I would actually miss out on some wisdom.

Cringe quote you used to live by?

I don’t know if they’re quotes I lived by but I feel like maybe I used to identify with “good vibes only, no bad vibes,” and “keep it positive”. All that stuff, I think, actually robs you of part of your human right to emotion, and it becomes quite jarring and confusing. You sort of step back and look at reality and think about what so many different people are going through.

You might judge it as  ‘Oh, that’s not a good vibe.’ Well, you’re a dickhead, because sometimes the vibes are not that great, but those are the vibes, and you’ve got to figure out your way through that. That’s important. I used to do this, when I just wanted to keep everything positive and good, it’s pretty toxic. It’s about being able to discern the light and the dark and harmonise them both in your reality.

Worst advice you got and blindly followed?

It wasn’t blindly, but I reluctantly did it. I was just told once, when I was in New York recording, and meeting these labels and stuff, they basically told me I was too Black to do pop music, but not Black enough to do hip-hop. And then they’re also like, ‘are you gay?’, all this stuff. And I was like, no, and then they were like, ‘Alright, well, we need you to record these kinds of songs.’ And then it was just like, popping bottles with these ‘hoes’ and these ‘bitches’, and I got these girls around me. And yes, I recorded those songs. And then I had to present myself to the labels like that, and it just felt wrong, it just felt so bad. There was only one A&R, she was like, ‘Is this really you?’ She could sort of see through it. But others, they just wanted me to play a part, and I followed that for a while.

The worst failure you’re up for sharing, and what you learned from it?

I think in the past, I have failed at showing someone how I feel about them, not sharing how much I care or how much I love them, and that’s hurt them. And so I’ve lost out on love in that way. But it told me a really, really valuable lesson, and that’s to get over the fear of rejection and to drop my defenses, and to really show the person that I care about, how much I care about them. Like, don’t try to play it cool. I wrote this song for you. I love you, I care about you, and I want you to know that. So that was a really, really valuable failure, that actually became the best blessing.

Anything you used to be wrong about?

I used to think that the truth was enough. I used to think that you know, you fight for the truth, you protect it, you project it, and that people would understand it and I can make them understand it. And you know, I slowly and quickly realised that we all live in our own realities. We all have our own perspectives of what the truth really is. I’m pretty comfortable with mine, and I believe I have a lot of integrity and I trust myself, but I realised I can’t force that upon anybody else, and if they want to dip and stay in their reality, and we can’t find a common truth, it sucks but it just is what it is. I can’t control anybody’s reality. That’s each of our own journeys.

Embarrassing internet habit?

I think it’s probably OnlyFans (laughs). Nah. It’s comparison. Sometimes I go online, and it’s super inspiring. Other times, I go online, and I’m super entertained. And then other times I’m on there scrolling and I realise that I’m just actually comparing myself to other people, and this isn’t fun. I’m gonna go. So in those moments, I get off, and I do something useful with my time.

Ideal morning routine versus actual morning routine?

My ideal morning routine, which sometimes I hit, is a 5am morning wake up, go make some tea, read a book, meditate for like an hour, stretch, and then begin my day, and also take in the sunlight. But the reality is that I probably go to sleep around like 1am or 2am, either doing music or just being too stimulated. And then I wake up around 7am or 8am, and I rush out of bed once I’ve hit my snooze button like five times. I rush out of bed, and I go to work out, usually boxing or Muay Thai or something. It’s not bad, it’s still a productive morning, but it is stressful. 

Something very off-brand for you?

Smoking ciggies or vaping. I don’t really buy that shit, and I don’t have them at home or anything like that. But generally, if I’m around my friends on the weekend sometimes, or if I’m drinking, you best believe I’m grabbing it. It’s so impulsive, and I don’t really view myself as an impulsive guy. I’ve never really been like that in a lot of ways. And yet, I find myself doing that. I can usually tell it’s coming from stress or anxiety or something like that. But I just think it’s really not on-brand for me.

What do you waste money on?

I definitely waste money on takeout, like takeout delivery. All that, it’s way too much money. I don’t cook enough, so that’s why.

Worst procrastination habit?

Sometimes, no lie, I actually just am spinning around in circles. When I know I have to do something, and my mind just starts turning, then physically I start turning. I’ll pick things up, put them down, because I start creating things and imagining things, a whole movie in my head. And while I’m just picking things up, putting them down, I’m spinning around. It’s pretty funny and I wish I had a camera that could see me in those times, because I think I’m hilarious.

Keiynan’s new mixtape The Heart Defence Mixtape is out now.


Image: Supplied