Kehlani talks humble beginnings, Cardi B & breaking out of the R’n’B box

May 7th 2018


Photo by Sharon Marrero

  • Kehlani :: Interview with Tommy Codling

Hours before hitting the Hordern Pavillion stage, Grammy-nominated goddess Kehlani dropped by for a chat on Arvos with Tommy Codling.

Celebrating her 23rd birthday on tour in Australia, right off the back of appearing at Coachella, Kehlani opened up about her past, present, and future. Taking it back to her humble beginnings, Kehlani let us in on the start of her music career  – almost winning America’s Got Talent in a cover band named PopLyfe. From there, a 16-year-old Kehlani started finding her own sound, surviving the L.A rat race and getting her music out to the world:

“We were just covering other peoples songs for five years. When diving into making my own music, and finding my own sound, I really paid attention to what made me happy, filled me up, and what would be fun to perform.”

“He [Nick Cannon] saw that music just wasn’t happening for me after the show, because for a lot of these TV shows, not much happens unless you make connections while you’re on the TV show, and at 16 years old I wasn’t prepared to do any of that. He saw that I was struggling with having a place to stay, and he brought me to L.A., gave me my first apartment – it was the first time I’d ever had my own room.”

Following two highly acclaimed mixtapes, Kehlani signed with Atlantic Records in 2015, launching her career into overdrive. Her monster-length debut album SweetSexySavage in late 2017 not only led to collaborations with Cardi B, Charlie Puth and KYLE, but also helped her to continue evolving her sound.

“Through the album, I kind of solidified who I am, and did different things. Before the album I was stuck in a very R’n’B box. But on the album there were very bright, movie soundtrack-esque tracks, which opened a lot of doors.”

Kehlani showed a strong pride in her own achievements – and rightfully so.

“I’ve done so much, it’s a trip, and I’m most grateful for the growth throughout. I’ve really grown up through this entire experience, and I’m prepared to create something again.”

Wondering what she’s got in store? Listen to the full interview above to find out, as well as hear her thoughts on the Kanye West drama, the rise of her good friend/collaborator Cardi B, and launching her own company. An added bonus! There’s a fantastic attempt at an Australian accent in there too.


Listen back to the full episode of Thursday Arvos with Tommy Codling.


Read more from Emilie Carmona

You Might Also Like

Jamila Woods on being a black woman in Chicago

Chatting with Tanya Ali on Arvos, poet and R&B powerhouse Jamila Woods unpacks her debut album HEAVN and lets us in on how she's working on the ground to inspire a new generation of young artists.

Big Boi chats Outkast, Atlanta hip hop & having lunch with Kate Bush

Fresh off the back of his third solo album, the Atlanta rapper showed off his best Crocodile Dundee impression on Wednesday Arvos with Darren Lesaguis.

Moses Sumney plays 'Plastic' live & muses on solitude, the human experience and Mac Demarco

Off the back of his breathtaking release 'Aromanticism', L.A.'s Moses Sumney adorned the studio with a spine-tingling live version of 'Plastic' on Arvos.