27 October 2021

Kelis

The iconic songwriter and vocalist discusses her return to the music industry, her multifaceted creative life and her collab with VERO, "Snackables". 

Somebody recently told Kelis that she was always talking about food in her songs. “I was like, do I?” she laughs. “I mean, obviously I do. It isn’t intentional, but the idea is just that food is a very carnal thing. Everyone can relate to it. It’s very human, it’s sensual, it’s something that you crave. And it’s sexy.”

This idea forms the backbone of “Midnight Snacks”, Kelis‘ first new solo music since her soulful album Food was released in 2014. “Midnight Snacks” was recorded in a studio on a boat in London and produced by The FaNaTix to create a minimal, sleek, back-to-basics feel, shot through with nighttime sounds taken from the natural world and percussive babies’ gurgles. “I heard the beat, thought it was dope, and the first thing that came to mind was ‘Midnight Snacks.’ The FaNaTix were like, what are you talking about? And I was like, it makes you feel like a midnight snack! And that was it.” says Kelis. She may keep singing about food, but there’s more to this than late-night stories of raiding the fridge. “It’s funny to me, but I like the fact that you can take sex and food, and you can put these two things together, and they’re totally interchangeable. I love that.”

A collaboration between Kelis and photographer-director Adrienne Raquel the visual for “Midnight Snacks” came to life in a futuristic, yet retro dreamscape – a world where Black beauty, fashion, and decadence collide, inspired by the allure of the 1990’s and paired with the glamour of the 1970’s. VERO, the social network where you connect through sharing what you love, worked with Kelis to support in making the ‘Midnight Snacks’ video. For exclusive content, including the “Snackables” video series where Kelis gets the scoop from her friends and collaborators on the food, music, and culture they love, visit Kelis’ Vero profile.

How does it feel to be returning to music?

It feels good, it feels really good. I’m not one to just rush out and put stuff out. I put stuff out when I’m ready to do so. I’ve been working on this project for a while now. We’ve had to push back a few times bc of COVID, so it feels really good to finally have it out in the world. I really wanted to put something out that was fun and light, last year was so heavy with all that was going on, so to offer up something that was different is what I wanted to do. 

 

And how has the industry changed since you made your debut?

Oh man, it’s changed so much. I mean I guess the biggest thing you obviously have to mention is social media and digital streaming sites, those weren’t even invented when I started. There was still that separation between the artist and the fan/audience. Now it’s all about having enough content for socials and posting, it’s so different.

 

Why did you decide to explore your interest in food on your latest release?

It wasn’t as much of an intentional decision as people think, it kind of just happened. Food is obviously  a big part of my life, but with this track, when I first heard the beat and I started to listen to it, something about the production felt like a midnight snack to me lol.. I said that to the guys and they were like what are you walking about? I just said it feels like a snack, so it just kind of came from there. When I go back and think about all the times I have sung about food in my music, I guess it’s bc food is one of those things that we all can relate to, it’s a carnal desire, we all need it, so it’s universal and I think sexy, food is sexy and fly, so it makes sense 

From your time in the industry, what’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned?

In my later years, I’ve definitely made it a point to have much more equity in my music/ work. To be smarter with my business, I started out young, so I made a lot of mistakes. I learned a lot from that. This next record I own my music, I’m very happy about that.

 

What’s one song that changed your life and why?

I guess it’s fair to say “Caught Out There”, it was my first single and it’s what really set me up for my career. I didn’t start out doing anything like any other singers and I still don’t. I’ve always done things my own way, whether it’s been my sound, my hair, my style, or how I live my life. I’m really proud of that. 

 

What are you passionate about right now and why?

My home and farm. Since moving to the farm almost two years ago, we had no idea what we were doing. We have grown so much here. We have so many animals, a massive garden, we had our first olive harvest, it’s amazing. We just bought another 25 acres and I plan to develop that land and turn it into a farm where people can come and stay. With little yurts or glass huts, it’s going to be amazing. I’m pretty excited about that and of course, new music. I’m so excited about getting back to music and to reconnect with my fans, it’s been so long. 

What’s a film that inspires you and why?

The recent documentary High on the Hog on Netflix. It was so well done and told the story of Black American food and all that we contributed to American food culture, we have never really had that story told before in that way and it was so inspiring to see. It’s something that I tell ppl all that time long before the film, i read the book as well, so to see it adapted and on the big screen really moved me. 

 

What’s your favourite thing about being part of the VERO community?

I think the community at VERO is one that is really connected and interested in the creatives on the platform. People are really into hearing about what you’re making, what you’re listening to, reading, or watching. Connections are formed over your passions and I like that. Which is also why I decided to join the platform and to make my SNACKABLE video series only available on VERO because it made the most sense. On the series,  I talk to some of my favorite ppl and collaborators on our favorite foods, shows, movies to watch, and music. I speak with some awesome ppl, the producers of my new single, the FaNatix, my best friend and long time tour DJ, Nikki, and my good friend, Jon Gray, he’s one of the co-founders of the Ghetto Gastro culinary collective.

 

What makes VERO unique?

Well, I think it’s really cool that you can share so many other parts of your personality in terms of your interests. I am such a tv and film buff, so I love that I can share those loves with the VERO community and then also get recommendations from the community on what they are watching or where they are eating or eating, etc. Those were the things that really pulled me to the platform,  I thought that was  dope and different, you can’t do that on IG or Twitter or TIkTOk and think its through those things that we can  build community around, we need more of that in the world right now. 

 

Where do you want your career to go next?

There are still so many things I want to do, I’d love to write another cookbook. More music of course/ I want to expand my farm property and open up my hotel experience. I’d love to do more TV, food and farming related stuff, I mean I’ve never  been one to only do one thing obviously, so whatever feels right and is for me, will be.

 

Stay up to date with the latest from Kelis by following her on VERO.

VERO is an authentic social network — no ads, no algorithms, just great content. Go to vero.co to sign up and follow @hungermagazine for more exclusive content.

Cover Image Mike Mora

Related Content