Following the release of her brand new video My Esprit, complete with the single and clips from her coffee shop tour, we caught an in-depth interview with singer and songwriter Keili Fernando. We talk about the tour, the impact of Covid-19 on the music industry, and her hopes and plans for the future. Here’s how it went.
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Hi Keili – thanks for the interview, I hope you and yours are keeping well!
Thanks so much for having me; this is so rad! I love how Stereo Stickman supports independent artists and has awesome articles and content from all different genres and parts of the song-making process.
Thanks for the kind words, it’s a pleasure to have you!
Congratulations on the new video. Your story is inspiring, and the music is beautifully uplifting and suits the optimism of the tour clips. What was it that prompted you to book a coffee shop tour over the more traditional music venues?
When I spoke with the director of the music video, Aaron Freeder, I told him that my goal of this tour was to connect with people in different communities. There is something about coffee shops that is so cozy, casual, and intimate which allows for conversation. I had the idea of a coffee shop tour about eight years ago now and just sat with it until the timing was right.
When my team and I actually made it happen, it was everything I had wanted it to be and more. To this day, coffee shop shows continue to be my favorite. I love that by the end of the set, there’s the potential for everyone to be friends. It’s like a social experiment that is bonded together by music and warm, delicious goodness.
How easy was it for you to adapt to the current health crisis and organise and begin performing for your Home Edition Tour?
Having been a film producer and stage manager, I’ve learned to adapt pretty well to change. When I found out that I wasn’t going to be able to play the live, in-person shows that I had lined up, I meditated on what my goal of those shows was. It was to connect with others and bring a little bit of light to those who are in dark times. I saw the need to pivot as a challenge that I was very willing to meet, especially since we all had to adjust together.
While live-streaming can never quite replace the authentic gig setting, it is proving a strong way to uphold that connection between artist and audience, and in some ways it can be a more personal, broadly interactive option. What would you say are the main benefits of performing from home?
Aside from being able to perform in lounge-wear, I think one of the main benefits is exactly what you pointed out. I’m able to build and reinforce that connection with my audience by showing even more of my authentic self in my space. During the live-stream home tour, I was able to show viewers different parts of my home–my kitchen, my music nook, picture frames, little sentimental trinkets, and give a sense of my home decor style.
What prompted you to start supporting your local businesses during your videos, and how do you choose which businesses to highlight?
As a small business owner myself, I know these times are hard, but we really are stronger together. It’s important to continue to support one another emotionally and monetarily, if you have the means to do so. As a member of the small business community, I’m just doing my part.
In terms of choosing which businesses to highlight during the My Esprit home tour, it was pretty easy, since I wanted to shine a light on those who had supported me over the years. These coffee shops and restaurants are a part of my community. They’ve had my back in humble times, and I have theirs now. I personally know most of the owners or at least people who work at these shops. We’re a part of each other’s stories, and we’re all going through this rough chapter together.
While the live streams bring together fans from all over the world, this means that you can’t necessarily guarantee an audience at each show – your fans aren’t waiting months to see you, they can tune in far more regularly. A lot of bands are also doing the same sort of thing at the moment.
Do you think the streaming arena will become too saturated, or that people will tune in less frequently over time? Will musicians become more like YouTubers? What can you do as an artist to keep the live stream performances fresh?
Great questions. I think that streaming, like anything else, is what you make of it. As long as I’m being true to myself, my mission, and doing my best, that’s all I really have control over. The rest is in God’s hands.
People come and go over time. If I’m able to make a small, positive impact in someone’s life from one stream and they never see one of my streams again, hey, at least I made a lasting impression. Hopefully, they got a smile out of it too.
As far as musicians becoming more like YouTubers, I think there are great artists who have stemmed out of YouTube and are highly successful now. That’s just part of their journey. I don’t think it’s as controversial nowadays as it was ten years ago about live performers vs. studio or YouTube performers.
As for keeping a live stream fresh, I think introducing new segments every so often is fun to do. I’ve done some casual live streaming on Twitch, and my viewers have mentioned that they have found my various stories interesting. I’ve talked about food, what it’s like to be on a film set, and my thrift store adventures, just to name a few. I think the most important thing about streaming is that if you’re having fun and enjoying the process, people will naturally gravitate to your channel. That’s been my experience at least.
Great answers – thank you!
How do you manage your days during lock-down, and has your creative approach changed at all in light of recent events?
In my kitchen, I have a new dry erase board that I got from a local small business at the start of “safe at home.” It has been instrumental in helping me structure my meals for the week. Funny enough, everything else fell into place after that, more or less .
My creative approach hasn’t changed all that much, but I find that I’m enjoying writing with Crayola markers more. Does that count? I’ve also dabbled on the piano again after many years.
What’s your main hope or ambition going forwards – what’s the bigger picture?
I think it’s hard to think too far in the future due to the current state of where everything is, but I’m still looking forward to releasing one or two more creative projects, both in film and music. For the film, we’re currently in post-production, and as for music, I’ve started tracking some new ideas, which I’m excited about.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks again for having me. This was a lot of fun. If you’d like to check out my new music video for My Esprit, feel free to head over to my YouTube channel or my website at www.keilifernando.com.
Other than that, find something to be grateful for today!
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