Record & Tape Exchange is a recurring series where some of our favourite artists walk us through their personal music libraries to share the songs that have soundtracked their lives. 


North London’s Keeya Keys is fast becoming one of the UK's most versatile talents, showcasing a prodigious ability to switch from grime to afrobeats, drill and hip hop. His new EP Keys To The City is available to stream here.


What song reminds you most of your childhood?
I would say the song that reminds me of my childhood is “Coldest Winter” by Kanye West, off 808s & Heartbreak. I remember being in school, I broke up with my girl and I was listening to that song on repeat on the way to and from school. That project came out when I was in year seven, year eight so that was the song for me, I used to bang it out religiously. I love a sad song. I love a bit of darkness in my music, I always have.

What was the first physical record you remember buying?
OK, there’s two. It was Wretchrospective by Wretch, and Late Registration by Kanye. When I look back at that choice now, they definitely both influenced me in different ways. With Late Registration, just the production on that whole project really took me to a different place. I remember that was when I first started really falling in love with music. And then Wretch, just the way he writes, I used to try to mirror the way he writes when I was younger. So yeah, there's like a mixture of both in me still. And they’re both hard projects man. Hard projects.

What song is the best representation of your hometown?
This is a tricky one. I would say one from the Wretchrospective album, “Ina Di Ghetto” by Wretch and Ghetts. That song has that feeling of old school UK, but I'd say also a softer one like maybe “Brown Eyes” by Kano. Big tune and that one just gives me the vibe of UK love.

What songs remind you of traveling to a specific place?
This is not even really about travelling, but I played football professionally in Blackpool and my favourite song at that time that I had on repeat was “Pana” by Tekno. Bro, that song is one of my favourite songs of all time. I think it's as close to a 10 out of 10 song as you can get, from production to vocals, the vibe, the feel. I love that song.

What was your favourite song to hear in the changing room before a match?
We used to play “Look Out” by Skepta and Giggs. Big tune, and that one used to go off in the changing room, especially when the Skepta verse comes in 
because everyone knew the words.

Who was running the aux in the changing room?
Me, bro! Do you know what it is, I just always loved music a little bit more than everyone else. So I used to make a playlist that kind of made sense for everyone. I just kind of understood it. I think one day I want to go into DJing as well, because I think I have the vibe and the ear for it, how to read the room and make the right song selection.

What song do you wish you had written?
Mac Miller, “Come Back to Earth.” The first song on Swimming. That line when he says “I just need a way out of my head,” I don’t know what it is but the way he worded that is just so poetic and beautiful and strong. I love that song. There's another Mac Miller line that I wish I wrote, I think he says “I've been going through it, you just go around it,” and when I heard that I was like “This guy, writing wise, he's gone.” Sick. I love that whole album, Swimming.

What’s the best song to play at a house party?
OK, right now it is “Talibans” by Byron Messiah. Song of the summer, man. I'm telling you, I can feel it already. Yeah, that's the song I’d pick right now. He's stupid hard.

What song would you like to be played at your funeral?
There are so many ways you can take this, you know? Do you want it to be sad or celebratory? I'm gonna go back to Mac Miller again. And I'm gonna say “2009.” Heartfelt. Everyone's crying at my funeral, don't be celebrating.

You’re abducted by aliens, and when you wake up on the spaceship, they pass you the aux. What is the song you’re playing to convince them not to destroy Earth?
Wow, wow. Wow. Wow. I need a big one for this one. This is basically saying what is your favourite song of all time? That's mad. This is a hard question. I would say Kanye West “Runaway.” Yeah, I think that makes sense for the situation. I was gonna say “Devil in a New Dress” just because I wanted it in there somehow, but “Runaway” feels atmospheric with the piano. That’s a good answer I think.


Further Reading:

The London lyricist and NYC producer join the dots from Peckham to Brooklyn as they talk us through their Record & Tape Exchange selections.

The Montreal trio give us a world tour of their defining music memories, from Haiti to London.