After four years of waiting (whew!), Kelela is officially back with her new song “Washed Away”. The Washington, D.C. native, whose full name is Kelela Mizanekristos, is back with her first song since the release of her dazzling debut studio album Take Me Apart.
“I love a banger, but for the first point of contact out of my hiatus, it felt more honest to lead with an ambient heart-check”, the eclectic R&B artist stated in a press release.
— Kelela (@kelelam) September 13, 2022
The song is an ethereal, alternative R&B cut that focuses on Kelela’s haunting and soaring vocals. The accompanying music video highlights the Danakil Depression located in her family’s home country of Ethiopia. Kelela appears draped in a brown and black leather outfit, paired with a leather headdress to imitate her classic locs hairstyle. While her ambient vocals start to echo throughout the video, Kelela removes the headdress to reveal a fierce copper-blond buzz cut with matching eyebrows.
She later appears in a serene, kelly green crater of water surrounded by a mosaic of white earth. While Kelela sings into the camera, sweeping shots of the beautiful, arid landscape are interspersed between her closeups. Finally, Kelela appears covered in white from head to toe singing along to her song and strutting away on crystalline water, reflecting her image and that of the sun.
We love a strong visual!
Kelela has been within the music scene for a while. Dabbling in progressive metal, electronic, and R&B, she launched several EPs, Cut 4 Me and Hallucinogen, to critical acclaim. She was also one of several artists, including Sampha, Cassie, and Jhené Aiko, featured on R&B superforce Solange’s collaborative album Saint Heron.
She released her debut album Take Me Apart to rave reviews, leading the album with singles “Let Me Know”, “Waitin”, “Blue Light”, and “Frontline”. The latter track was featured on an episode of Issa Rae’s Black millennial dramedy Insecure. Take Me Apart fused electronic music with R&B to establish a futuristic sound that encapsulated lyrics on love, sex, vulnerability, and the ups and downs of relationships. Ultimately, the album gave way to a new sound of R&B from a queer artist.
Kelela followed up the project with 2018’s Take Me a_Part, the Remixes that production with additional production support from Black queer artists Serpentwithfeet and Kaytranada. However, when the world needed her most, Kelela disappeared. But her four year hiatus was broken with a social media campaign discussing her disappearance and impending return to music.
Now, she’s back and ready to give all of her fans the new music we’ve been patiently waiting for with her new song “Washed Away”.
“I specifically want to speak to marginalized Black folk and highlight the work we do to find renewal in a world that’s built to make us feel inadequate. This song is the soundtrack to the relief we find after going inward”, she stated.
Watch the full video to “Washed Away” below.