The seeds of love blossom into the flowers of romance in KeAloha’s sweetly swaying single 2Lips — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The debut solo release from the B.C. IndigiPop singer-songwriter, drummer and multi-instrumentalist, 2Lips spins a charming tale of band-geek romance, set against the tender strains of gently layered guitar and ukulele, and topped with KeAloha’s breezy, sincere vocals.
“2Lips is so special to me,” the Vancouver artist says. “It is about falling in love. Honestly, it’s a rom-com classic in the making … We met in music school, (we’re both drummers), and we became best friends in a beat. He fell first and I caught up, and you can catch more steamy details in the song. (Just kidding).
“I wanted to write something that would honour the love I have … and also to dream of the love we have yet to find. I love reflecting in reality and dreaming up fantasies. I truly believe in the power of speaking your desires into the universe, and for me, singing these truths feels like the ultimate dream-planting. I love the dualities in 2Lips: The tenderness and the passion, the comfort and the adventure, the polyphony in the ukulele and guitar layers like lovers dancing.”
KeAloha is an interdisciplinary artist who intertwines her gifts of song, dance, words, and rhythm. She was born and raised in Prince George, where her Lheidli T’enneh ancestry hails, and moved to the ancestral homelands of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (aka Vancouver) in 2015. KeAloha is a mixed-race femme, whose blood carries legacies of Polynesian navigators and dancers, Lheidli trappers and medicine people, Irish farmer-settlers, and Chinese immigrants. Her music is a vessel for her to build relationships and understanding with the many identities she holds.
2Lips is part of a larger body of work which KeAloha will release over the coming seasons, and which centres her experiences as a femme of colour, discovering her ancestral stories, and re-envisioning life with chronic illness disability. Her music has helped her to rebuild herself through deep compassion.
“When I play and write I am endless,” she says. “My songs are paths that lead me deeper into the worlds of my mixed identity, and into the identities I am only just becoming. I make melodies from pages of my journal and clippings of love letters and I dream of all the places my love has yet to go.
“I have been dreaming of starting my own project — of being behind the drum kit but also being behind the mic — for a long time, and becoming KeAloha in all of my artistic power came to me when I was ready, and when I needed a new door to open. Creating my own music became a way for me to find liberation from the barriers of my chronic illness disability, and to honour all the intersections I hold.”
KeAloha identifies her music as IndigiPop, embracing her love for getting people moving to an irresistible melody, but with a mission of decolonizing pop culture at the heart by leading with values of her mixed Indigeneity. KeAloha is committed to shaping her career and community through reciprocity for the people and music cultures who inspire her, including the chants, mele, and rhythms from her own Hawaiian and Tahitian roots, as well as grooves and feels created in Black and Latinx communities.
“I’ve always loved elements of pop music, and I think an important piece of making truth and reconciliation a reality is to redefine pop culture through Indigenous perspectives,” she says. “In my music I tell stories of my Ohana, and stories from my experiences as a mixed, Indigenous, disabled femme; I dismantle the ableism that is so present in pop culture, and I learn and draw inspiration from my ancestral musics. I love the magic in narrative lyric writing — of inviting people into my reality. I find the process of weaving stories and journal pages into melodies to be meditative. I can see where growing up in Lheidli homelands (so-called Prince George, B.C.) and listening to an eclectic mix of folk music influenced my writing style.”
KeAloha has been a usual suspect as a drummer and vocalist in Vancouver’s jazz, fusion, Latinx, R&B, hip- hop, neo-soul and pop scenes. She has worked with a diverse roster of artists, including Tonye Aganaba, Francis Arevalo, Meiwa and Breaking Boundaries.