As Miss Keri kicks off her worldwide tour and makes her way to destinations like Dubai, Beirut and Berlin, I manage to catch the stunning star on the phone as she settles into her top Paris hotel.
She is soon coming to London as part of her tour and will be bringing along UK singer/songwriter AnGel and fellow home grown RnB favourite, Starboy Nathan to warm up the show. Touring is no doubt exciting, but I want to know what life is like when you’re sleep deprived, far away from home and constantly on the move. Yes, pop stars have it hard too you know. More importantly, I need to know how she still manages to look so damn good whilst she is on the road (or in the air).
Although she tries to conceal it with a smiley “Hello, how are you?” Keri sounds tired when she answers the phone and I feel guilty, like I should be letting this chick sleep; she sounds exhausted. I ask how she is and if she is enjoying the beautiful city of Paris.
“I don’t know yet… I’ve only been in my hotel room. I’m a little tired.”
How’s the tour going?
Well, it now it REALLY begins.
You’re coming back to the UK in a few days. What can we expect from a Keri Hilson show?
Well… Without giving away too much, you can expect to see an estrogen powered show; it’s a lot of fun and very engaging for females. You can expect to hear older songs and newer songs.
How do you find the energy to perform all night? I need that kind of stamina.
I think even on your most tired days, the thing that keeps you going is knowing that people are waiting to see you, people pay to see you, they drive for hours sometimes, just to see you perform. That gives me a natural boost, you know? I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink soda; I try to do it in natural ways. It’s the realisation that people are there for me that gives me a boost.
What brings you comfort whilst you are on the road?
I look at pictures of my family… I really miss my bed, but there isn’t anything can do about that part! Being in a different bed every day… [Grumbles] But yeah, I would say pictures; I always look at them when I am missing my mum and my dad.
Have you picked up any cool trends or fashions whilst travelling the world?
Hmmm… I’m sure I have, but I can’t think of any. I have my own sense of style, so it’s about picking up this and that wherever I’m at.
Your skin is positively radiant. How?
Thank you! Yeah, it’s hard, especially with the under eyes; it can be hard to look alive. Water is my best tool – it sounds clichéd – but I think about how long I’ve been doing this and I realise I had to go back to the basics. It’s the simple things; wash your make up off and drink loads of water. Those things keep your skin clear and keep you looking healthy and feeling good. And working out, of course.
So water isn’t just a myth? I drink over 2 litres a day, maybe I need more…
No seriously, it works! I notice a difference, if I don’t drink water for a while, even for just three days, when I get back on my regime my skin clears up, my body improves and I lose that water weight, I mean, you actually lose weight when you drink water.
What is your favourite way to relax and unwind after a night on stage?
My favourite way… I have a candle, it’s my favourite scent right now and it reminds me of home. I love getting a massage but I get only get one maybe once or twice a month, if that. Then I listen to music and zone out.
Your favourite destination so far?
Ooh, let’s see. So far I would say the best has beeeen… Nigeria. Yeah, the Calabar festival. That was A-MAZING. There was 35-40,000 people all standing on their feet, singing to every single word of ‘Knock You Down’ – it was just that energy, I don’t think I’ve seen that energy since. The closest thing after that would be Australia and then parts of Canada. For some reason, being American, when you tour outside of your home country you are received incredibly well, so I expect that from you! I came to the UK a few years ago to tour with Ne Yo and I just remember how great the crowd was. So I have high expectations. [laughs]
I’m sure we won’t let you down. What is your favourite track from ‘No Boys Allowed’ that gets you going on stage?
Right now, it’s Pretty Girl Rock.
You’ve had many different reactions from that track…
Yeah, and that’s fine. I do music through a lot of different layers. I love a consumer who can appreciate more than what they are just hearing, they get to the feeling part, the real emotion that you are presenting. I mean, that song is all about being SO confident, that no one’s opinion will break your spirit. I walk in a room, all eyes on me… [starts singing] even if it’s not true, you should FEEL that way. And that is what the song is all about.
When is your tour over?
15th of October in Lebanon I think? It’s a shame; I really want to do an official UK tour. I get these tweets from people in Glasgow who are mad that I’m not coming to tour there. But I’ll be back!
What is next after the tour?
A little bit of rest, a lot of recording and a little bit of rest!
Will you be writing any more hits for other artists?
The problem is that I am so, so busy with myself that I can’t find the time or headspace to work for other artists. I have been asked through my publishers, people have been asking for songs written by me specifically, but it’s hard to focus on anyone else at the moment, although I really want to. So yeah, after this tour I will try and focus on that as well.
You were writing for others before you recorded your own material, right? How did that come about?
Yes. I was in a record deal with a girl group and when we broke up, I took up song writing. It was Anthony Dent who allowed me to work with him, he has done a lot of stuff for Jay Z, 112 and he produced Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor’. I was his in-house writer so he introduced me to a lot of songwriters and producers and I started collaborating, I was 18-years-old. I did that for a few years then I joined another girl group. We didn’t work out either, and shortly after that I met Timberland while I was still song writing, he was impressed and I was on cloud nine! And the rest is history, as they say.
My favourite song of all time of yours would have to be ‘Turnin Me On’ – so I want to play a little game.
[Laughs excitedly] Let’s do it!
I’m gonna name some random attributes and you tell me… Turning you On… or Off?
Men in pink? On. Only those bold men wear pink!
String vests? Who?
Umm, a string vest?
I don’t know what that is!
It’s a vest, made of string. Never mind…
Underwear as outerwear? Off. Unless I am in a video, or on stage.
Players? [pauses to consider] Off.
An iced out dude? Off.
Autotune? Errr… I think that phase is on its way out. But I can’t say Off because I like when Snoop does it, T-Pain, Chris Brown… but I wouldn’t do it myself. I dunno, can I say On/Off?! [laughs]
UK Dubstep? On! You guys have become so soulful, you’re good.
Tattoos? Oh, always On.
Okay, enough of this game, it could go on all day. I’mma let you sleep. Enjoy Paris and we’ll see you at the o2 Keri!
Thanks Maz. I’ll see you there. I can’t wait - London, get ready for me!