RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW ALBANIAN ARTIST KEJSI TOLA
Hiya Kejsi, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
Ever since I was a child, my parents recognized my talent before anyone else. Music has always had a profound connection with me, and from the age of 6, I felt a strong affinity towards it.
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
I embarked on my singing journey at the age of 6, winning numerous competitions for children. At 15, I won “Ethet,” the Albanian version of American Idol. Representing my country at Eurovision a year later marked the beginning of my career as an adult. Although I am primarily known for my ballads in my home country, I am now thrilled to be part of an international project, eager to continue my musical journey.
Name me your 3 favorite albums.
My favorite albums are:
“21” by Adele
“Future Nostalgia” by Dua Lipa
“Fine Lines” by Harry Styles
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a musical path?
The first album I had at home was by Vaya Con Dios, and their iconic songs “Nah Neh Nah” and “Don’t Cry for Loui” left a lasting impact on me. Their music fueled my dreams of creating my own music, and I often draw inspiration from that album, which holds a special place in my heart.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, how do you feel you are doing?
In such a demanding industry, what empowers me and helps me navigate the difficulties is staying true to myself. I firmly believe that each of us possesses a unique essence, which is crucial for success in the music industry – embracing your individuality.
As you develop as an artist and develop using socials, in what ways do you get new ears on your music? Any tips?
I believe that artists gain significant insight through their experiences. Throughout history, music distribution has undergone various transformations. Today, we have advanced technology at our disposal, making it somewhat easier to reach a wider audience. However, I believe that exceptional music always finds its way to the public.
Tell us two truths and a lie about you.
I will sing all my life; it’s my calling.
I will never give up on music; it’s an integral part of who I am.
I plan to quit pursuing a career in music; that will never happen.
What was the worst experience on stage?
Honestly, I don’t believe I’ve encountered such a situation. However, one of the most embarrassing and slightly panicking moments was during the Eurovision final when I represented Albania in 2009. Just before stepping onto the stage, there was a moment of panic when my microphone and headphones were momentarily misplaced. Fortunately, the issue was resolved swiftly, and everything went smoothly during my performance.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
In Albania, the public knows me quite well, and I strive to remain genuine and true to myself in every interview and on-stage performance. However, for the international audience who may not be familiar with me, I’d like to convey that…
What makes you stand out as an artist?
My vocals have always been my standout feature and the foundation of my artistry. I’ve consistently aimed to remain authentic and true to myself, refusing to compromise my art for the sake of circumstances.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
My latest project is called “LUMINOUS,” it is an EP. It has been a two-year endeavor, filled with passion and love from both myself and everyone involved in the project. This marks my first international venture, taking a significant step toward an international career.
I had the privilege of collaborating with Grammy award-winning producers and writers who I never thought I would have the opportunity to work with.
The journey of creating this EP spanned three creative camps across three European countries, starting in Paris, France, continuing in Rome, Italy and Barcelona, Spain and ending in London, UK. Great memories with a infinite creative moments.
Talk to me through the thought process of the new tunes.
Over a span of two years, we wrote the entire EP in the three cities I just mentioned in three highly creative camps where each camp had a great unique group of creatives and approaches. The first camp was held in Paris, France, and it was there that we created the song “Do Me Like That” out of approximately ten different ideas.
The second camp took place in Rome, Italy, where we wrote the song “All Night.” Lastly, the third camp in Barcelona was particularly inspiring. We wrote “What You Want,” “Distraction,” and “One Night in Barcelona.” The city, its culture, energy, and vibe served as endless sources of inspiration, allowing us to experiment and create beautiful music.
Through this journey, we found the perfect direction for the EP. I’m excited to share that soon, I’ll be returning to Barcelona, where new and exciting things will come to fruition.
What was the recording process like?
The process of creating this EP was unique from the start, but one experience that will remain etched in my memory is recording at Abbey Road Studios. As a singer from Albania, being in a studio where international music stars and icons have recorded was incredibly thrilling.
Working with a producer like Lorna Blackwood, who has produced for artists like Ellie Goulding and Dua Lipa, was another extraordinary aspect. We spent three emotionally charged days in the studio, and I am immensely grateful for this experience.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
For me, being involved in the writing process of each song on this EP was a first-time experience, and every moment was a valuable lesson. However, the most important lesson I learned is that experimentation is crucial to finding your desired sound. Additionally, selecting the right team to embark on this creative journey with is essential.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No, I wouldn’t want to change anything. Despite any unexpected mistakes, I believe that imperfections add beauty to the project as a whole.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
I consider music to be the most precious gift I can offer. I want to express my gratitude for this interview and extend my thanks to everyone who has been a part of this journey and to all of you for your support! I’m excited to share that soon, I’ll be returning to Barcelona, where new and exciting things will come to fruition. Stay tuned because the best is yet to come!