Photos: Joyce Kim for FADER It's hard to believe Kehlani, the Oakland-bred songstress Atlantic is banking big on, is only 2- years old. After the release of her latest mixtape, You Should Be Here, Kehlani and her Tsumani crew headed out on a national tour backed by Atlantic and the indie fan base that has generated a massive organic buzz for the Oakland singer that seems to be her driving force.
The rising star sat down with Fader to cover their August/September issue and really give folks a glimpse at just how far she’s come since her couch surfing days in Oakland. Plus, the sneaker-lover snapped a few shots in her Nike Huaraches. We are not mad. Take a look at a few of our favorite Kehlani quoteables below:
On Learning Her Craft and Her Ultimate Objective
“Factually, hits intrigue me,” Kehlani explains. “As a songwriter, I break down a song’s melody, hook, timing, patterns, wordplay. I study Max Martin and shit. But now, I just focus on making what I make.” For her, crafting a distinctive sound and brand trumps any one big single. “Some people’s whole objective is to make money, and you can hear it in the song,” she says. “That’s never my objective.”
On What Separates Her From Everyone Else
“Hard work always beats talent,” she says. “That’s always been my thing. Girls pop up singing raw every day. But how many of those girls write their songs? How many of those girls spend this many hours in the studio? If I’m singing like they’re singing, but I’m putting in work too, it’s going to happen.”
On Her Own Personal Struggle
“There were times where I really had to do shit like wait outside of a train station and snatch iPhones out of peoples’ hands and run and sell them,” she says. “I went through people’s houses. I ran through cars—all type of shit that I feel like made me grow up so fast. I’ve been banned from Walgreens. I’ve been banned from Walmart for stealing fucking clothes and food. Lucky’s caught me with a box of Wheat Thins and some bread. I was like, ‘Can’t you tell I’m stealing because I’m hungry?’”
On Her Ideal Relationship
“The type of music I make is based around love,” she explains. “I think I function better in a relationship because it gives me things to write about. As I’m learning somebody, I’m able to learn myself.” Her ideal relationship is mutually character-building and monogamous. “I want to be with someone who makes me work harder and keeps me on my toes, where I’m enjoying watching them grow and they’re enjoying watching me grow,” she says. “I don’t want to be fucking with a bunch of people. I don’t want to carry that much around with me—in my energy, in my career, in my music.”
Check out Kehlani’s full cover story by heading over to Fader.com.