15-time Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter Alicia Keys has described her new album ‘Keys’ as a homecoming.
“I feel like I've come back to myself. It's almost like I started here. I went all the way over here, and then I kind of find myself around back to there.”
She described a new confidence in the sound of the album.
“I feel like it… really emulates it. There's a certain confidence to it that is really, really beautiful. The songwriting is powerful. The piano is amazing. And then on top of it, because I'm a true New Yorker, I had to take that original and sample it, turn it into something like totally sonically different. And now you get two perspectives. So you have the originals and the unlocked version”.
Keys is her eighth studio album. The double album features all-new originals and an unlocked version that sample the originals with the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Mike Will.
“Keys is all about leaving behind any inhibitions. It's about being your most majestic and most magnificent, your most unconfined. It's like just break free and be who you are”, she told Euronews.
Keys was performing at Expo Dubai 2020's Infinite Nights Series. The immersive concert had a live audience but was also streamed around the world on television, online and through virtual reality.
“I am performing on the night that the album drops, so we're really launching it here” she added.
It is now 20 years since the release of her hugely successful 2001 debut album, Songs In A Minor. Keys has evolved as an artist and person in that time and said, “You know, I didn't know anything when I first began. I was just kind of pretending my way through it all and acting like I knew what I was doing, but I didn't. Now I have a sense of what I'm doing. I know what I like… what I don't like. I won't let people take advantage of me. I make sure that I stand clear and strong in my vision and what I want to create and put out there in the world.”
After selling over 90 million records and performing for over twenty years, Keys says she doesn’t have a favourite song but some do stand out.
“Falling, man. I don't know what it is to this day every time I sing that song. It has a new life and new feeling. It feels timeless. It's never old. I just feel brand new every time. So that's one. And then there are so many great songs that I love, but it's hard. It’s really hard to choose. One of my favourite new ones is called Wasted Energy, Underdog is also beautiful, a really strong one. And then one of my favourite ones that happened a little while ago is called I Need You, but I don't perform it that much.”
During the pandemic Keys has broadened her relationship with her fans, from the live talks on social media to her YouTube docuseries, ‘Noted: Alicia Keys The Untold Stories,’ which includes intimate conversations with her parents.
“During the pandemic, I decided that there's a beautiful way to reach out to people, even when you're not in person. And so I wanted to start to explore that more and open up in that way because I'm more confident because I understand who I am. I don't feel so worried about connecting and sharing, and it's not such a scary thing for me now. So I just love it and I feel so good. I'm so glad we have that connection. I'm so glad you've actually been able to see me grow into myself.”
In 2016 Keys shared a different journey with her fans when she stopped wearing make-up citing pressure on conforming to societal expectations and being tired of using so much on stage and fortv and magazine appearances. Fast forward to 2021 where her perspective has shifted to a more ‘do as I please’ approach.
“You have to find what you feel good about, for you,” she said.
“You know, a lot of the times we let our friends dictate it, we let the media dictate. We let Instagram dictate it. All these things are kind of in our heads about who we're supposed to be… what we're supposed to look like. And so I think it's it's a personal journey and you get to discover yourself. And so I just feel like I really know myself. I really understand that it's my world it’s my choice. Nobody can tell me what to do. I can do exactly what feels good for me, and so can you.”
The Alicia Keys of today is comfortable in her own skin and she’s encouraging fans to feel the same through her Keys Soulcare skincare line.
“I would say keep finding what feels good for you. That's what Key's Soulcare is all about. It's all about creating rituals and positive affirmations to really kind of find, how do you take care of yourself in a world that is quick to dismiss you and not think about you? How do you make sure you're taking care of yourself?”.
Back on stage, Keys says she is looking forward to embarking on her European tour and has missed in-person events with her fans.
“Honestly, that's something I missed desperately. The connection is so special. It's something that you can do that you could just never duplicate. So I'm excited to go back on tour in 2022 to all over the world, really. Not only do I get to bring Alicia to you, I also get to bring Keys to you now. So it's going to be bigger and better than ever.”