Q: Welcome to 1500Radio.com we are back with another Artist Spotlight featuring Keem Smilez. Welcome to our station, tell the people a bit about who you are, where you're from and what you do.
A: Im KeemSmilez, I'm from Delaware. The first state. A lot of people don't know that. But yup, it's the first state. I am a singer, song writer and all around entrepreneur.
Q: I love it. So let's dive into the artistry. What kind of style or genre would you say your music is?
A: So recently a lot of people have been telling me, "you don't sound like anybody," which is a great great compliment. It's like huge. But some people I listen to are Drake, Bryson Tiller, Jhene Aiko, what's his name.... Brent Faiyaz.
That's my vibe.
I think I really want to do this.
Q: So what encouraged you to first start making music?
A: So when I was 11, I use to sing in my bedroom just to myself and I was like "ooh...I can sing".. but I would keep it to myself. I use to be so shy. So then when I turned 13, I just started writing music and that's when my mom got me...shoutout to my mom... a karaoke machine for Christmas.. and I just started like recording.
So I told her one day, "I think I really want to do this".
When she saw how consistent and how serious I was, she was just all for it. A lot of people don't know, but my mom she's actually a music head. My real name his Hakeem and it came from a singing group from the late 80s called The Boys. One of their names was Hakeem and they sing..not knowing she was going to have a son that would sing. Of course she was really excited.
You remember myspace?
That's when I started getting serious. Gospel choirs, talent shows, chorus..anything you could think of. Then when I was 17, a friend I met through myspace. You remember myspace? We use to talk all the time. He would always play Madonna songs in the background...but I would never think anything of it..I just thought he liked Madonna. Whatever.
Long story short. He was working on her album and I had no idea..and that's how I ended up meeting Madonna at 17. She really loved me and wanted to actually sign me to her record label, but she had just sold it. After that she tried to help me get to Jive records.
Nothing to do with her because I freaking love her, but things didn't work out..and when things went downhill. I stopped. I didn't want to sing. Nothing.
We want you to come back again.
Years went by.. and my mom said get back into. So I said before I release music, "I need a plan", "how will people know me?". So I made a Youtube channel. My very first video was in 2013. Fast forward to 2016 I said, "I'm going to drop a video every Sunday for a year". By doing that I got a lot of attention. One time I did a review of the MTV Music Awards and someone reached out to me and said, "we want you on this show called OM Gossip".
So I was like sure, then they were like, "we like you we want you to come back".
Then they said "they love you, can you interview Nigel Baker... we want you to come back again".
So I ended up on t.v. for a few years doing celebrity gossip. It was crazy. I was doing TMZ, OM Gossip, my own Youtube channel and still working a regular job...it was a lot going on.
Q: So you were doing more hosting style that singing?
A: Yes, I would just talk about anything entertaining to watch. I remember being like, "I don't want to be known for a celebrity gossip person". I knew I could do it, but it's not what I wanted to do, but everything kept pulling me that way. So I switched lanes for a second, but that's ok because it brought me back here.
Q: Ok love it all, so then we get back into the music.
A: Yea so around 2017, I came out with my first single, "Love Story" and I dropped a video. Then I dropped another single called Fantasize. Fast-forward to today, now we here with new music.
Q: So which one of those are your favorite?
A: Even though I love my new song, I love "Fantasize". That came out in 2018.
Q: That sounds like an interesting title, so do the others. Tell me what inspires you while you're writing and the background behind these song titles.
A: One thing about me, you know how people can freestyle rap? Well I can freestyle sing. If you give me a topic. Like "sing about love". I can just start singing about love and it starts rhyming. It's just a natural gift that I definitely appreciate. But also when I come up with songs, I usually listen to the beat, the instrumental first, and usually after that a whole songs starts coming together.
Q: So that gives me an idea..let's play a game. I'll give you a word and you sing the first thing that comes to mind. First word, water...
If I have a melody in my head, I'll just record it on my phone and get right back to it.
Q: Great I love it. It's giving love ballots...
A: Honestly it just goes by the feeling that I'm feeling. Like my very first song "Love Song" that was a real story. So it was easy to put together. It starts off very romantic, young and in love, but by the second verse it switches to things ain't looking right. So it's like a surprise when people hear it, they thought it was about to be a love song, but then it switches to not together anymore...like what really happens.
Q: Who are some artist that inspired and inspire you now?
A: I honestly can't name one, so I'm going to name a few. We got to take it back. Jodeci, Tevin Campbell, Stevie Wonder, Luther. Ginuwine, I played a lot of him growing up... Usher, Tina Marie, Mary J Blige, Faith Evans..honestly just anyone with really really good good music.
People who tell stories. As you can tell I love 90's music. Oh one more...Aaliyah..that One in A Million album is just like golden to me.
Q: Yessss love them all... So before we get off the music side, let's talk about your new single, "Yesterday".
A: So the name of the song is called "Yesterday". This is one of the songs I actually free-styled back in 2016 to a whole other beat, but someone bought it before I did. I was so mad. But when I heard this new sound, I said, "hold up this could go on that" and it was just perfect. It was a freestyle originally and I just made it into a song. It's really short, its just about you know how you break up and make up...its about the ups and downs...still thinking about "Yesterday".
When you know, you know. Take action.
Q: That's a good learning tip. What's some advice you would give to other artist so that doesn't happen to them? So no one takes their beats.
A: I know a lot of people say, lease your beat or wait. I use to hear that a lot. But my thing is, not saying you have to have exclusive rights to every thing you listen to, or every song. But when you know, when you have that feeling...just go ahead and do it, get the exclusive rights..take action. Most of the songs you can lease for a bit, but my advice if you feel like you got something good... if you have the money, just do it.
Q: Thank you for that gem! So tell everyone where they can listen to 'Yesterday', other than 1500radio.com
A: It's on all major platforms. All over the place..Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, iHeart...just type Keem Smilez. It's on TIK TOK..its everywhere.
I want you to be an Executive Producer.
Q: Perfect. So let's switch gears a bit. You're also working on a reality show. Tell us about that.
A: The name of the show is called "Unseen". First of all, I never thought I'd be on a reality show. My cousin/best friend/business partner approached me about this a couple of years ago and my first opinion was like, "nah, you can do it. I don't want to". But then last year, right when the pandemic started, he came to me again about it and for some reason, it just made more sense now.
So we start talking about it, I'm asking, "who is on the show, "how we doing this" and he's like "actually not only do I want you to be a cast member but to also Executive Produce". So now there is three Executive Producers, us and my other best friend. Contracts were signed and it just all came together. Now we have a whole cast, it's 7 of us. We wanted to start recording early last year, but you know the pandemic, so we started at the end of the year..around Decemeber. So far there are 9 episodes out.. We've been getting a lot of good feedback, everyone's been saying, "this should be on tv".
Q: Wow. So what type of content can we expect on the show?
A: It has a mixture of documentary and reality tv. That was my thing, I wanted it to be different than all of the other Youtube reality shows out now. When you watch the first episode you're going to get that documentary vibe. It follows the life of all the cast members, the behind the scenes of everyone trying to accomplish their dreams. Like personally I sing, we have a fashion designer, you get to see her journey....you have someone in church..a model..so you see everyones life. But at the same time it's still crazy moments during filming...it is definitely reality tv.
Q: How do you balance being a producer and an EP. How do you stay neutral?
A: With this being the first season, it's been a lot of learning. I found out I get mad really easily haha...but it teaches me the business and how we do it. It's also teaching me what not to do for season two..because we're having a season two! When you know yourself, you can do anything. I know how to separate filming from business and behind the scene. Now I love it.
Q: That's so exciting! Can't wait to watch it. So before we go, one more time tell us where we can find the show and where people can follow and support you.
A: Yes so Unseen Reality TV on Youtube, new episodes every Tuesday at 8PM EST and Keem Smilez on IG and all social platforms as well as the YouTube channel.