It was clear from the moment Kelela dropped her 2013 debut mixtape Cut 4 Me that she was destined to be huge, and it wasn’t long before she started being approached by much bigger producers than the underground bass music artists who’d been making her beats. But while it’s certain that we’ll start seeing her collaborating with A-listers soon enough, she’s also keeping one foot planted firmly in the underground.
Her brand-new single “A Message” was created alongside Arca, a darling of the electronic avant-garde who’s recently made some sub rosa incursions into the mainstream, working behind the scenes on albums by Kanye and Bjork. The two managed to find the ideal balance between her more straightforward R&B style and his frequently nonlinear compositional modes–”A Message” floats on waves of ambient synthesizers but also delivers a gut-punch of a vocal performance. The video, directed by Daniel Sannwald, wraps the whole thing up in a gorgeously psychedelic visual where Kelela gives herself an emotional haircut and transforms into anime avatars.
And to think the whole project came about because of a boat ride.
“A Message” will appear on Kelela’s forthcoming Hallucination EP, out May 5 on Fade to Mind. She also has a full-length planned for later in the year.