Interview: Asia Keishai on her New Single "Element" and The Importance of Plus-Size Representation
Youth for Positive Change spoke to Asia Keishai about the importance of plus-size representation and her new single "Element"
Hey Asia! First off, would you mind describing a little bit about yourself and your music?
Hey! So, my name is Asia Keishai. I’m a 20 year old singer/songwriter based in Portland, Oregon. I spend most of my time writing and performing music, something I’ve been doing since I was around 9 years old. I grew up in a church singing lead in choir, however it wasn’t until I dropped out of college that I got involved in music seriously. I like to say that my song writing has helped me develop as a person and it has given me invaluable opportunities which I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. However, to call myself a musician would be an oversimplification: I’m also a daughter to two supportive parents, a little sister to one amazing sibling, a best friend to many, and an LGBT Black woman.
Diversity in the music industry is vital. What do you think major players in the scene can do to improve the current state of representation?
Major players in the industry need to stop focusing on the look of the artist to sell.
The first thing a lot of powerful industry reps do is prioritize someone based on how they look as opposed to how their music sounds. For Black women – as well as LGBT and plus size women – this means having to constantly retaliate against the looks-driven music industry and push through till they make it based on their merit, not their presentation. Once the music industry selects artists based on who they are – as opposed to what they are – the state of representation will change dramatically for the better.
You recently released a single, titled “Element” (available on all streaming platforms!) What was the inspiration behind the song?
When I wrote my song Element, I remember sitting down and saying to myself “okay, I want this to sound different.” I wanted it to capture my world in a way that was authentic and real. In order to do this, I needed to step out of my comfort zone and let go of my shyness, an element of myself I didn’t want to hold onto any longer. I got signed to a label back in July and flew out to Los Angeles to record in a studio for the first time in Hollywood. I sat in that studio with my engineer and best friend and thought about what song I wanted to enter the music scene with and that song ended up being Element, alongside my self-titled “anthem of self-confidence,” Phree.
You often talk about body positivity and the importance of body diversity. How can straight-sized people be better allies to the plus-sized community?
I love this question. I think straight-sized people can be better allies to the plus-size community by being less judgmental and more inclusive. I’ve always been a fuller girl; however, I never really embraced or loved that part of myself until I was about 18. Of course, I still have my struggles with my weight but it doesn’t define my being – my art, my intelligence and my multitudes.
I think weight is a topic a lot of people try to ignore and dance around. I believe plus-size people deserve to feel beautiful, and be viewed as such. It is disheartening to see the lack of representation for plus-sized people, particularly women, in the media, and it is imperative that that companies and brands have “phat girls” on the cover of their campaigns, magazines and initiatives.
Finally, do you have any music projects you’re working on at the moment that we can look forward to in the future?
Any future music tea? I am working on an EP which I was going to release on my twenty-first birthday (in October) but I want to extend the creative process a bit and make sure the project is perfect – or as close to it as I can get. I am filled with so much gratitude and thankfulness for everyone for supporting me, my journey, my story, because God knows I have a lot more to share! I’m always trying to find ways to evolve. I can’t wait to see where music, and being who I am, takes me!