The world is art. The world is built on art. No longer is an object’s utility the only thing that makes it desirable, but it is also it’s aesthetic design. In the same way, on a social level, this doesn’t totally exist. We are surrounded by useful objects with “art” appeal, but social artists are still relegated to being the types of professionals that won’t make much out of themselves because socially we don’t respect art the way we should.
“Karma” defined means god or bad energy felt after an action has been committed by any subject. After attending the funeral of a friend and noticing a musician seated next to me, whom I had stumbled across online months before; Keanu Eckstein, better known as Keanu Karma, embodies the two way street between art creation and art consumption…he embodies karma in music; highlighting how artists create and in return how art consumers react. Wanting to better understand one opinion on karma in art, I had questions.
Q: Your presence on social media depicts you as someone who spends most of their time engaging only with other artists. How has your proximity to other creative people impacted your own ideas of what you create?
A: I like being around creative people. I get to feed off a lot of different ideas and really be exposed to more than what I am. I feel like being around other artists makes you far more conscious to your own creativity…you are that much more aware of the art around you and you can choose how to go about expressing that. In my life, creativity is best expressed through fashion and music.
Q: Everyone who enjoys music, especially, those who create it, have a moment in their lives where they fell in love with music. What was your moment?
A: I was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa and lived here for a while before moving to Gauteng. My biological father and my mother owned and managed a club out there. I can remember, when I was three, I would be in the DJ booth. I spam the decks and changed the CDs, you know that type of thing. As I got older, in primary school, I joined some of the rap battles at school with some of my friends. By grade seven I realized that I could actually make songs myself. There was this kid who was trying his skills at beat making and he suggested I rap over a beat he had made. It was the day that we recorded my first song, on an old computer with headsets that had the microphone attached, that I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Q: Who else have you worked with to refine your sound?
A: I’ve been making music with others since that day in grade seven. Since then, I have been in one trio and two duos. The trio and one of the duos disbanded because we lived far away from each other, so getting to make music was difficult. My last duo was me and my friend Romeo. We worked together for about two years. In the end, there were still distance issues, but more so that we wanted to explore and develop different sounds.
Q: How has being a solo artist affected your production ever since you stopped working with Romeo?”
A: Before, I had always had someone to help me with a song. I make my own beats, but lyrically there was always another person’s creative energy to feed off. It’s been interesting doing everything myself. I did notice that I feared Psycho frequently on my last EP (Inspired by You), and that was me falling into the normalcy of having someone else k. A track with me, but I am really enjoying create as a solo artist. I am glad, though, that I have close friends who are creative as well. Right now, I record at my friend’s studio and I bring some of my closest friends with me. As much as I am a solo artist, I appreciate their input.
Q: How did ‘Inspired by You’ come to be?
A: I wrote most of the songs between 2013 and 2015. In 2014 I took a gal year after I matriculated. I spent three months in London writing some of the songs while enjoying the art scene out there. London gave my music an R&B missed with hip-hop type of vibe. Eventually I got around to recording them, but that happened when I returned home. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so it takes me a while to release music. Part of why I call myself Karma is because I honestly believe you get back what you put into this world. If I put out good music, I’m going to get a good response from my listeners.
Q: As you grow as an artist what type of relationship would you want to have with your listeners?
A: I want to have a friend-like relationship with them. As much as I make music for my own enjoyment, I make music for them to enjoy. I write my best music when I am either at my best or worst emotionally. After creating a beat, writing the lyrics, recording, and mastering, the greatest moment for me is when I’m on state and watching people enjoying the moment and making memories to my music.
Q: With your new EP coming, “Definition of a Rogue”, what has been the difference you’ve noticed so far in your production since your last EP?
A: “Inspired by You” was very much about describing the environment I was living in at the moment. I wrote about everything, women I had been involved with and the people around me really; but this EP is more about me and my development as a person more so than the last one.
Q: Anyone who has you on Snapchat knows how highly you regard your current girlfriend. On top of that you are a second year Business Management student at the University of Pretoria. How has it been managing your academic, personal, and professional life?
A: I’m lucky to have someone who is just as passionate about music as me. She is honestly so supportive and helps me with the business side of what I do. Even though I’m self-managed, she contributes so much to my music. As a student, I just try not to get off schedule or fall behind with my studies. I don’t want to badly in one aspect of my life in order for another to flourish. I want it all. Right now I just try to stay on top of my academics so that I never have to cheat my personal and professional life of my attention and time.
Q: How has it been making “Definition of a Rogue” so far?
A: It’s been fun! I still have a few songs to work on, but for right now I’m enjoying just putting every feeling onto s track. Like I said earlier, I can only write on one or the other extreme of an emotion…I can’t be in the middle or I know I won’t capture my sound or idea as we’ll as I could. I understand rogue to mean someone or something that has undesirable qualities but is still found attractive. I want to share the good, the bad, and the ugly through my music. I know that when I really like a bear I start writing immediately. With the music I have made for the EP so far, as well as my previous one, I have not had someone they totally hated s song, to my face at least; and knowing that I have the support of my listeners makes this EP a pleasure to record.
Q: You are currently working on an EP and a fashion collection. Last year you and I lost a friend who we didn’t know we shared. How has working on your two projects been for you since then?
A: Vuyi [Smith] and I had been friends since about 2004 or 2005. We were neighbors and we became friends since then. He’s still a part of my life right now. Call me crazy, but I can still feel, his presence when I’m writing or designing. We used to play around with music from time to time, he was amazing, and even though he’s passed on I still feel our bond. I am working on a clothing line, Rogue Clothing, and I named my first collection Dancing with the Dead as a way to say that you can still dance and feel those who have left this world. My EP will come out in winter, but I’m still taking my time with the clothing right now…I want to do it right for myself and for him too.
Keep up with Keanu Karma!