You may recognize the name Khalia from the female reply she wrote to Wiz Khalifa’s, ‘Roll Up,’ which in the space of just a month received over 100,000 hits on YouTube.
Not bad for a seventeen year old who entered a management/production state with DMP at the tender age of fifteen. She may be one of the youngest urban female artists in the UK right now, but she does not compete with anyone else, only perfection. Her first single ‘Candy Rain,’ an ingenious cover of the Soul For Real hit, confirmed her talent and potential to the listening world, and this initial success was further cemented by ‘Climb’, the first single on her album, ‘Touch Down’.
Having already worked with some talented writers on her album such as Curtis Richardson (Rhianna/J-Lo) and Karl Gordon (Jessie J/Sugababes), Khalia has done a lot. ‘I’ve done three videos in the space of a year, and they’ve all been quite successful, they have been on Channel AKA.’ Khalia describes her sound as, ‘urban but quite catchy, it also has a commercial edge to it.’
The mixtape ‘Touch Down,’ co-written by Khalia and Darren Martyn, shows her progression and confidence as a writer. ‘When we were writing the mixtape that was the song that created the title and the concept. It’s basically about touching down onto the music scene, saying you know this is me, here I am.’ Khalia uses her life experiences to write some songs, ‘I think they do make the best songs. An example would be ‘Love Story,’ it’s on the mixtape as well. It’s about me meeting a boy in Jamaica on holiday and falling in love with him and having to go back home, because it was just a holiday. It’s reality; it’s a true story. We were writing on a bashment vibe and I thought that would be the best beat or vibe to tell that story.’ This is also one of her favourite songs, because it makes her feel good and reminisce.
Whilst putting in the work on her music; she is also working towards her A Levels at college studying media, performance studies and sociology. ‘Media and performance studies tie in with music and entertainment, and music does help me with my studies, and what I’m studying helps me with my music, so it works out with the subjects that I’ve chosen.’ This also helps with her future plans to embark into the acting world. ‘I see myself as a household name. I want to be writing for other people, and be a successful writer. I want to get into acting as well, once I’m at my peak with the music hopefully in a few years, I won’t stop doing music though.’ It is refreshing to see such strong ambitions and dedication from a young woman.
She is all about being real, and does not aspire to be like anyone else, ‘I want people to see me, Khalia.’ Her intention is to bring something new, not just to the music industry, but entertainment industry too; fresh concepts and swagger. ‘I want the success that someone like Michael Jackson or Beyoncé has.’ When we touch upon artists she looks up to, who have influenced her significantly, the influence in her own music becomes apparent, ‘Brandy, SWV and Mariah Carey because I love the concepts of their songs, and the way their voices are, the composition and the construction. Boyz II Men also because their harmonies draw me in.’
Being a young female in the industry has its good and bad points. Khalia has already broken into the music scene with very positive feedback and amazing reactions, but she says it’s still hard to grasp female attention. ‘They latch onto male artists. As a female your expectations are higher, especially as a black female, the expectations are just way up there. That’s why I say you have to be perfect, there can’t be anything missing because the levels are really high.’ So what does she do to make sure nothing is lacking? ‘I make sure my voice is on point, I do my vocal training every day. I make sure image wise I look good, I can’t force people to like me I just do me. I get really happy when I get female saying, ‘you’re good.’
Her advice to young up and coming singers is, ‘Be yourself, practice makes perfect, show yourself as an artist; your image, your voice, make sure it’s on point, do some research, and just do what feels good for you.’
Words by Shireen Fenner
Photography by Sai Photography