An interdisciplinary artist of music, dance, and percussion, KeAloha’s expressive journey began when she learned the traditional dance of her Hawaiian and Tahitian Ohana.
A multitude of ancestral backgrounds run through her blood, from Polynesian dancers to Irish farmers to Chinese immigrants, to Lheidli T’enneh first peoples- all of which have influenced her artistic expression.
Being a chronically ill femme of color, KeAloha’s music has much to do with the exploration of her own identity. Whether it examines her experiences as a marginalized person born and raised on stolen indigenous lands or her experiences with ableism embedded within our society, her music stems from her own empowerment. A fusion of pride, vulnerability, and compassion creates a means of understanding and appreciating her cultural background. She says, “My songs are paths that lead me deeper into the worlds of my mixed identity.”
KeAloha describes her distinct sound as “Indigi-Pop”: pop music that, while infused with the traditional sounds of her culture, aims to decolonize pop culture as a whole. She impacts her community by drawing inspiration and igniting an appreciation for the sounds of her Hawaiian and Tahitian roots as well as influences from the music of POC communities.
KeAloha’s single, “Mahina”, released September 2, is a perfect example of this. She concocts a melting pot of musical and cultural influences to create the distinct, ethereal sound of “Mahina”. The song’s overall sound has elements of traditional Hawaiian percussion, dreamy pop vocals, and even some barely-there tinges of R&B influence. In Hawaiian, the word Mahina refers to the moon or moon light.
“Mahina” explores culture just as much visually as it does sonically. Released today, the music video features KeAloha performing cultural dances amidst various locations on the ancestral homelands of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam nations. Exemplifying the intricate beauty of her multi-culturalism, “Mahina”’s accompanying music video perfectly encapsulates the many different components of KeAloha’s unique artistry.
In tandem with the lyrical content, the song’s visual content is entirely a celebration of life, tradition, and cultural pride.