It’s the quiet storm hour yo, aka shut up and relax (or that’s what Frankie says at least). Enjoy the night sky, and go get your favorite book and DS Game (after reading this of course) while we reflect on the simpler times. The peaceful times of 2015. 16-year-old me was in an annoying backpacker phase, sitting crosslegged (get it) in my living room, wondering conscious evolving thoughts such as: “I wonder what Gordo from Lizzie Mcguire is up to” and “what I’m gonna name for my short film I’ll eventually scrap”.
While somewhere, in the same year, Keba Robinson was beginning her musical path with the release of her debut “Speck” as Crosslegged. An indie folk album that consists of raw vocals that feel as if vulnerability was the only energy lingering around in the studio. Songwriting that feels as if we were given permission to read someone’s journal. If you don’t believe me, listen to Am I Real.
8 years have passed, label issues occurred and the pandemic [I’m not explaining that], the journey for her second album finally came to a conclusion after maintaining patience. Early 2023, saw the release of her sophomore album, Another Blue. Refined, and more layered with production but doesn’t cloud elements of what makes her music feel organic. “I definitely think this album [Another Blue] has more peace and serenity in it. There’s more of a brighter side”, as Keba gives a good synopsis of the energy her latest album contains.
Moving from state to state to state [CA to PA to NY], Crosslegged is an indie artist who’s taken bites of inspo from her musical influences (such as Jimi Hendrix, Warpaint, Karen O, and Mazzy Star) and environment to form her art of folk, pop, and soul. Her music soundtracks ones’ moment of peace and reflection of self. What are you reflecting on? Well, that’s up to for you to do, whether you’re questioning who you are or accepting who you are and where you are. Hell, you could be reflecting on what you had for dinner and it’ll still feel potent. Crossleged music feels like a safe haven composed of notes and melody. Cleansing your aura with musical sage, if you will.
Highlighted in her biggest songs on Spotify, “Only In The” and “Automatic”. Two songs that string together pop and folk like tea and a good book. Sage and a bedroom. Rainbows after rainfall.
On April 27th, life comes full circle and I got to speak to Keba for about an hour. About what? Stuff you’ll see in a few.
This Q&A has been edited for clarity yada yada blah blah.
Favorite Jamaican Meal?[We interrupt this scheduled reading thing. Allow me to bring you to the island of Jamaica, for the first question at least. Enjoy the island, the water, the people, the too-dope food and I swear to God if I hear “Three Little Birds” in a tourist commercial one more time, I’m gonna throw a Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits CD at someone like it’s a fucking ninja star.]
(As we both come from Jamaican families, we’ve seen our way around the Caribbean a few times. However, for years, I’ve had beef with someone there and during the interview, I was astounded to know Keba had the same issues with the same people……….. Mosquitoes. They suck ass. Constant bites and irritation, Keba explained she got bites on her eyelids once. Yet, there’s a trick: “The Fall is the move if you wanna avoid mosquitos”. On to the questions though)
Crosslegged: “Ooh, oh man, definitely rice and pieces with curry chicken. No no no, curry roti is my favorite thing ever! I could eat curry roti like every day, I’d be a happy person”
What color would you describe your music to be?
Crosslegged: I think something between yellow and orange. I honestly think of those colors a lot when I’m making music, like something kinda warm and firey
Who would you say needs your music the most right now?
Crosslegged: I think someone who needs, like energy, to get through the day. Some excitement.
[Postive Energy Allows Cunning Excitement]
3 things you’ve learned between the long gap?
Crosslegged: “I feel like making Another Blue, whatever I make next, I wanna collaborate with more musicians to play on things. Cause there were moments of making Another Blue that was very isolating. There’s so much I learned because it was such a long period that it’s tricky to pin it down. I went through a lot of label shenanigans that a lot of artists experience. I think I learned about what I really want out of making music. In terms of finding a level of sustainability.”
We reach a bump in the road trying to conjure up a 3rd answer
Crosslegged: “Recent things, I’ve learned having a day and making music is a constant battle. So I learned about what I need as an artist to create in terms of like space and finding rituals for getting out of my everyday life and getting into my musical zone. So I learned a lot about myself in that capacity”.
“It’s crazy to me that it was that long of a gap. It didn’t feel that long, I kinda sat on the demos for a while and then the pandemic was here and then I spent the length of time contemplating how I’m gonna release it and then next thing you know 2023 is here”
Part of the music-making process that makes you smile?
Crosslegged: “I think definitely the writing part is my favorite part. Just the moment where you first get an idea or get excited by something and you can sense there’s more to unravel with a melody or lyric. I think the early stages of recording, where I’m like demoing things and moving with my gut. And I think as the process goes on, you turn on your editing mind a little bit more, or at least I do. Performing is really energizing a lot of the time. Probably just the parts that are in the moment and not too much overthinking happening.”
-Approach to songwriting?
Crosslegged: “Another Blue was a record, I never had such a wide array of approaches to songs. Like I think in the past, a lot of the songs I would write would be very in the moment. Have an idea and do the whole kind of thing. But for Another Blue, honestly, I think purely because of time <chuckles>, some songs like the song “Heaven is Real”, I had all the lyrics for that song before I wrote down the music which is unusual. I had the words and the melody, and kinda like a beat, it was a song I wrote on the train and came up with a lot of it while walking around. Which is a way I’ve never written and recorded a song like that before. Usually, I start writing on guitar or something like that, which maybe half the songs on [Another Blue] came about in that way. Honestly, I feel that’s my main songwriting process, melody comes first, even before the guitar.
The Importance of DIY to You?
Crosslegged: Honestly, DIY is how it started for me. A lot of my early shows came out of me planning shows with friends and I think a lot of the people who inspired me started by doing things with friends and making me think “I can try this too”. Yeah, I think just being creative as you can is central to the roots of Crosslegged, like early on some of my early recordings had pots and pans for drums or whatever was lying around. I’ve always been the person who likes putting things together and bringing people together around music so, I think the DIY ethos made me think it was even possible to even try those things
[I mention a friend of mine is a fan of her music]
“That’s crazy though, I’m always surprised when people know anything about my music, I’m like woah, Thank You”
Do you have trouble grasping that your music is beyond you once you put it out in the world?
Crosslegged: “I think with this album, it’s definitely circulated in ways that I haven’t expected to a certain extent. I’m always surprised, I’m always grateful for anybody who’s listening. There’s something beyond you know and it’s out in the world and somehow people are finding it and you’re not sure how.”
Going into her music, you’ll come across many comparisons to Icelandic icon, Björk. Mostly vocally. This isn’t a necessarily bad thing, there are plenty of people who would give their souls and their kids’ piggy bank, just to get a comparison like that. Infatuation scratches the mind so it begged the question, does she Björk intentionally? The investigation begins.
Do you listen to Björk, by any chance?
Crosslegged: “That’s hilarious, that’s the most common reference that anyone ever says about my music, and I’m always confused by it. I mean I love Björk; I had a Björk phase when I was a teenager, I had a phase where I listened to Björk Greatest hits all the time, so I’m a fan definitely, but it’s hard for me to hear that comparison cause it’s me hearing my own voice and Björk is Björk.”
“Yeah, I’m not trying to sound like Björk when I sing, but I always appreciated singers who have a playfulness to their voice and their delivery. I’m probably super inspired by singers who are also inspired by Björk. I used to be into this band Warpaint (she still is!), and I know just from reading about them, they’re inspired by Björk and I used to learn their songs a lot so maybe it’s through that [indirect influence]. I have a lot of influences so.”[Verdict: Eh..it’s a coincidence more than anything]
Quick Guitar Intermission
Crosslegged: I’ve been playing the same guitar for 7 years. But I have 2 guitars now, my brother gave me a guitar that he made somehow. It’s shiny and pink but like a mellow pink. Like it looks like someone hand-painted it. It looks like a Strat but it’s not.
Any lyrics of yours you’d get tattooed on you?
Crosslegged: Maybe the hook for Only In The, not the whole hook but maybe just the “Only in the battlefield” Or “Do you get over”. That was the first thing to pop in my head.
Dream Jam Session: Pick a guitarist, drummer, and bassist, with you on vocals.
Crosslegged: A guitarist, maybe like Nick Drake, that’d be crazy. This would be a different kind of jam session <laughs>. Bassist, maybe Jenny Lee from Warpaint, and then drummer… I’m not sure honestly. Maybe someone good at live electronic drums, that’d be an interesting mashup of things, maybe Tyler, the Creator.
If you had to play a song of yours to Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix (Ghosts I guess) and God in a room together, which song would you play?
Crosslegged: You know what, I’d play, maybe like “Rewind off” of Another Blue! Maybe like a live version
Do you plan to release more live music? [Audio/Video]
Crosslegged: I want to! If I don’t make any music, I thought about at least recording some kind of live session. Of the album or some individual songs.
What’s the next step for Cross-legged?
Crosslegged: I really just wanna make another album! I really wanna carve out some time to demo some things. That feels like the most, if I were to listen to my gut, that’s what I’d wanna do next. Continue to do shows and continue with the band. Yeah and just see what happens!
Photos by: Marisa Langley