When it comes to the lo-fi, R&B sounds of keshi, his music can typically be identified by a few trademarks — there’s his notable falsetto and overall impossibly smooth vocals, of course, which tend to be accompanied by plenty of yearning. When it comes to an artist known for music often centered on troubles of the heart, it might come as a surprise to casual listeners that keshi is very much centered and stable in his personal life.
In fact, on the day he sits down with Consequence to discuss his new album, GABRIEL, (out today, March 25th), he’s in the final stages of wedding planning. “I’m talking as if I’m the one planning, but it’s my fiancée,” he says, laughing, after sharing some of the stress around lingering details.
It’s a time of life changes overall for keshi, who was born Casey Luong in Houston, Texas. His self-imposed goal post is perpetually moving, albeit in a positive direction: “At first, [the goal] was to hit 10,000 followers on Instagram so I could get the swipe-up feature,” he recalls. (Current follower count? 1.3 million.) “Then, it was to get signed and go on a little tour, and then an opening tour, which I’ve been able to do. The next step was to make a debut album that I’m proud of… it’s a dream come true.”
GABRIEL arrives following a trio of EPs, released over the course of three years. The debut full-length collection has been highly anticipated by his fans, some of whom have been listening since keshi was an underground Soundcloud artist releasing self-produced music in college.
To prepare for the comparatively daunting task of assembling an LP, he consulted Rolling Stone‘s list of the top 500 albums of all time and listened through those listed on the first three pages, top to bottom. “Nirvana, Prince, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Pearl Jam. The only thing I got out of it is that there’s no right answer,” he shares.
keshi’s goal with GABRIEL was to make a “cohesive record,” and it’s safe to say he succeeded. There’s a bittersweet note running through the album thematically, moving between stories of home, family, romance, and the uncertainty of the future. The idea of family appears more than once — keshi’s father is the one speaking on “PÈRE,” and the album’s title track is about watching his parents grow older.