By BRUCE DENNILL
Jacqueline Juliane Keck, professionally known as Liane Keck is a singer-songwriter and pianist based in Pretoria, South Africa. She mainly focuses on genres like R&B, pop and hip-hop, while also collaborating on house, trap, classical, contemporary, Afro-pop and dancehall projects.
Keck’s debut cover project, Cover To Cover, was released on 31 January 2020. Her new album, LUXE, came out on 3 July.
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
I’ve always had a love and passion for music – from a young age. However, in 2015, I discovered the American R&B artist Kehlani. She in particular inspired me to pursue music as a career. I found out about her mix tape You Should Be Here and instantly became a big fan. After reading up on her family background, her story, and her career, I was empowered by her perseverance and courage. I find her inspirational to my music not for her sound, but for how she carries herself as an individual in the industry; and her work ethic.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
Currently, I still look to Kehlani as an inspiration. During the production of my album LUXE, I was heavily influenced by Dua Lipa, Saweetie and Chris Brown. Songs like High Maintenance and Put It Down, which are more pop, really took me out of my comfort zone. I often look to many, in particular, female artists to gain a better understanding of flow, emotion, wordplay, and voice control in music production.
Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?
Let Me Down by Jorja Smith was one of the first songs I performed – and sang really badly. I was sick with flu and forced to perform at a talent competition at my university. Since then, I have practiced a lot and even released a cover of it on my cover collection Cover To Cover. After repeating it so many times, the true meaning of the song became part of me. It spoke to me and my own experiences, and how I would often tolerate those I love letting me down.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
The wordplay and genre are usually my main focuses. I don’t like to confuse my audience, so I enjoy using simple words in a clever way to arouse thinking and also to allow the audience to attach their own meanings. The genre heavily influences the mood, atmosphere, time-frame, and memories that could come to mind – that’s why it is important for me as an artist to have my listeners travel with the music.
In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?
A combination of all the good stuff would make the ideal song for me! But during production, I always start with a chord progression and the instruments I would like, with reference to the mood I want to create. After that, I develop a melody and write the lyrics. Most of my songs are put together in this order, though I feel the best songs are when producers do their own thing and ask me to write to that. I enjoy having a different flavour to my songs. A priority for me is how the song sounds overall: I don’t want a good instrumental with bad lyrics or vice versa.
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
Gear in terms of clothing would be high-heels. I love them for their elegance, authority, and different styles. Music gear? I can’t live too long without my keyboard and studio microphone.
What is the story behind LUXE – the genesis of the songs, the people involved, and the muse behind its creation?
My previous release was a cover collection that aimed to make people aware that I could sing. LUXE is a huge accomplishment for me. The story behind the album is very personal. I was inspired through a variety of events in 2019 to think that I should build an empire out of music. The people that had a massive impact on the album are my colleagues and producers, Marz Emay, 97Beatz, Frank Ma Beat, LehandroBeatz, and my parents. I refer to my mom and dad in two songs to say thank you for their love and support through it all. The muse behind my album is not a person, but a stage in life. It is growing up, moving on, letting go, building values, and understanding self-worth and growth, however it occurs.