Photo of Khalid taken by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.
K: I grew up [a] military [brat], so I moved around a lot and that gave me the opportunity to experience different types of music growing up. I lived in Germany for six years as well as Upstate New York before moving to El Paso. I am huge fan of everyone from A$AP Rocky to Father John Misty to Frank Ocean to Grizzly Bear. My mom listened to a lot of artists [from back in the day] like Brandy, SWV and TLC, so I have been influenced by a lot of cool music. Listening to the groups that my mom liked taught me about harmonies, tone and melodies.
OKP: Your song, “Location” is extremely dope and has heightened anticipation for new work from you by music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?
K: It is exciting to see people tweet about my music and how “Location” is growing so fast. The fans keep me motivated and I love when I hear that one of my songs helped someone get through a tough situation or inspired them to follow their dreams. Every day is like a dream. Whether it is hearing my song on the radio or seeing a celebrity listening to “Location” on Snapchat — it just feels so surreal. This is just the beginning and I am super excited to release more new music.
OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?
K: Music is a universal language. In some instances, it can help take your mind away from all of the crazy things that are going on in the world. I just stay true to who I am and write from the heart in hopes that my songs can inspire someone and help make a difference in someone’s life.
OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?
K: For me it is all about staying true to who I am. I think today it is easy to get caught up in the trends, but I stay focused on trying to grow as an artist and make timeless music. My goal is to still be around in 10 years making music that myself and my fans love.
OKP: Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as how you’ve experienced it? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?
K: I see streaming and playlists becoming the future of music. Playlists are cool because you can create your own playlists and listen to different artists from different genres that all come together to satisfy whatever mode you’re in at that particular moment.
OKP: What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?
K: To stay true to who you are. Don’t change yourself for anybody. Some people will try to criticize you or put you down just because they are insecure. Love yourself, express yourself and be happy with who you are.
OKP: What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?