Around four and a half years ago, Keable had reached a breaking point. She was frustrated with her label and management at the time. She had just experienced vast success as the featured voice on Disclosure’s 2013 hit “Voices,” but it was never in her cards to pursue house music in her solo career. She had a distinct vision for herself and her music.
“They really had a different path set out for me than what I had for myself,” she vents. “It was just so funny, you know. You really think that you know some people and that they’re supposed to be the people that are gonna look after you and whatever, and they’re like, ‘Hey, why don’t you not write your own music?’ They’re all being so supportive like, ‘Yeah, yeah, we love the music you write. We love it! But why don’t we try you not writing it? And why don’t we try you doing something completely different? Why don’t we try that!’
“And you’re like, ‘What? What the fuck are you going on about?’ [Laughs] People are just so jokes. When money comes into it … but, yeah, I took the time off just ’cause I basically [was angry with those guys]. I really just needed some time off to just get my shit together. I felt really betrayed and really just pushed down some avenues that I didn’t really want to go down that really fucked with my creativity and my own integrity.”
Keable sees now that had she not taken her hiatus from the music industry then, she most likely would not be making music anymore. However, taking a break from the industry did not mean taking a break from music altogether.
“To remind myself why I was doing music,” she explains, “remind myself how much I loved it, remind myself that I was good, that I wasn’t shit, [and] I was worth something more than what had been put into my head almost by these annoying men.”
Keable’s newly assembled team included just herself and two friends—one a pianist, the other a songwriter. They kept it simple, writing from Keable’s home, slowly. The mentality was one day at a time, and one of those days brought about “Treat Me Like I’m All Yours,” Keable’s February single off of MAN. Another day gifted them with a second MAN track. “It all just started to come together, and I was like—I kind of didn’t give a shit anymore,” she clarifies. “I was just, like, I’m not looking to do music just for anyone to listen to. I’m just doing it because this is what I give a shit about.”
Describing her dynamic with all of the different men in her life, Keable notes that she has always generally been a very, very blunt tomboy. Sometimes, men can’t handle it. She lets on that at least 20 more songs could have been added to this EP just because the nature of her songwriting usually relates to different encounters with men in her life, sometimes romantic and sometimes not, and how they can piss her off. On July 28, 2018, Keable released her single, “That’s The Shit,” which calls out how random men conduct themselves in the club scene. “I find it funny to play with their egos a bit because they’re quite sensitive creatures, bless them,” she jests.
“Treat Me Like I’m All Yours,” though, is much more specific, definitely romantic and inspired by one man who is very dear to her: her boyfriend. (Told you we’d get back to him.)
The short of it is this: two years ago, over the course of one week, her boyfriend did not want to have sex with her. It just so happened that that same week, Keable had studio time and used it to get her frustrations off of her chest—as songwriters do—and her boyfriend was left worrying about what the outside world must think then about how he treats her. The truth is, they’ve been together for five years and are very much in love. There was just one week, two years ago, that wasn’t picture perfect, and Keable finds it important to remain transparent regardless of the subject matter. In this case, more than likely, there are women, somewhere, struggling with feeling undesirable for much longer than a week.
“Things that happen in relationships—I just think that’s why relationships are so good, especially with the age that we live in when it’s like social media and all of these things,” Keable says of the story behind “Treat Me Like I’m All Yours.” “Everyone loves to be so presentable all the time. The thing that cringes me out the most is when people post, when you go on Instagram, like, ‘My love, and blah, blah, blah.’
“It’s just not like that. Me and my boyfriend just are not like that. We have a really healthy and happy relationship, … but we’re very real with each other. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, well surely you can’t still be with this guy, even though you’ve said all these things.’ I’m like, ‘Of course I can!’ We’re not perfect. Everyone goes through these fucking stages in their relationship. … I just say it like it is. It’s nice because our relationship isn’t perfect, but, you know, we’re still goin’. We’re still good.”
Cutting MAN down to just four songs was a challenge. Seeing as she’s been away for so long, Keable is sitting on a lot of music. The music she believes in. She’s tempted to just put it all out there but wants to be smart and follow the integrity that was nearly stripped away from her.
“All I think is what feels right to me. What do I wanna hear from myself right now?” she says of the process. “What feels right for other people to hear? … But I think it comes ’round and ’round. Some days, some songs I’ve written really speak to me, and I’m like, ‘Ah, I need to go out! I need this to be the next track!’ Then other days, I’m like, ‘No, this one.’ Or whatever. So, I think it’s just based on what for the longest time has consistently felt like my truest version of myself and my voice right now.”
Getting back on stage to perform MAN is the one thing Keable is most excited about. Growing up, Keable always preferred listening to live versions over recorded studio versions. The freedom in it was contagious, and she’s definitely caught that bug as a performer now. Last fall, Keable served as the supporting act on the U.K. leg of Raleigh Ritchie’s tour. Following the tour’s London show, her father was impressed with how interactive and funny her daughter was on stage. He told her she could survive as a standup comedian if everything else fails. Perhaps that advice would have been acted upon around four and a half years ago when music felt up in the air. But now, fully in sync with her soul, the only thing bringing Keable to a stage near you will be her music, done her way.