Ascend Keanu | "Faded in LA"
[Ascend Keanu](https://instagram.com/ascendkeanu), the Hawaiian born artist, has spent the last few years transcending his past into a melodic menagerie of R&B soundscapes. Growing up in the melting pot that is the Hawaiian Islands, Ascend Keanu utilizes his Hawaiian roots and background in reggae to fuel his contemporary tone that captures the hustle of being young and in LA. After leaving college and his spot as a wide receiver for Washington State, Keanu relocated to LA to commit himself to what this grandfather saw as his true gift, music. “Back in Hawaii people are on island time. Living there seems good, but there are a lot of distractions,” he shares. “There is more of a go getter mentality here and that’s what I needed at this point in my life, to kind of just go all in.”  With his music being a culmination of what he grew up listening to, Ascend Keanu creates his own voice idiosyncratic to what he has experienced.   Wanting to create something that he could completely resonate with, Ascend Keanu debuted his first track “NYMPHO,” which is where he believes music and sound is transitioning to.  His music video of his latest track entitled “Faded in LA,” depicts the nights we know all too well when taking in the city in excess and the chance experiences that comes with it.  Sewn into his lyrics is the ever lingering feeling of fading away in a place too vast to conquer. With his directorial and editorial debut, Ascend Keanu takes a more intimate approach with his process by positioning himself in total control of his creative direction.  Flaunt had the opportunity to sit down with Ascend Keanu and learn more about his creative process and how he bridges his past into is art.  Photographed by Baariksgallery ![Photographed by Baariksgallery](https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/56c346b607eaa09d9189a870/1583223089760-C5VIY6BFVYPXQS72HWY1/IMG_3734.jpeg) Photographed by [**Baariksgallery**](https://instagram.com/Baariksgallery) **How has living in Hawaii impacted you as an artist?** Hawaii is just really diverse.  With the internet we digest a lot different types of music, at least I felt like I did.  I listened to not only Hawaiian and reggae music, but a bunch of different types of music.  My dad is from New Hampshire and my mom is my Hawaiian side, so I’d listen to rock and alternative with my dad to Whitney Houston and Celine Dion with my mom.  So, it’s just like a big melting pot.  In high school, I was working on reggae music and I just used my influences and channeled it to make my music today. **Can you tell me more about what the music scene is like in Hawaii?** I think that the scene is at an infant stage over there in terms of the music scene in a box. Hawaii is going into a direction like Miami or Toronto where it will have attention on the music scene and on the art scene that will come to fruition in like five years.  For me, it branched out from doing reggae in high school.  The band would practice in my garage, but eventually we went our separate ways.  Some of us started families, but I kept pursuing music.  I feel like I could do it, but I was also really good at football.  I was recruited to play for Washington State as a wide receiver.  While I was over there, I made music in my dorm.  Eventually, I went back to Hawaii and started to create what I felt is where we are headed to. I feel like I don’t fully resonate with the music that is out there.  **How did learning ukulele from your grandfather turn into a music career?** I think that subconsciously he was building my ear for music. He was a gifted guitarist and he found out early that I could sing.  We would just sing together when I visited him in Moloka’i and we would just play music together.  He was the rock in my family and after he passed away I felt like I had to do this and that it was my purpose to do. **Is this where you found your passion for music?** Definitely.  It was just a realization that I had a gift and him showing me how to harmonize. It really influenced me and I realize that I loved it and it came naturally to me. He was definitely the person who pushed me and gave me a reason to do it. Photographed by Baariksgallery ![Photographed by Baariksgallery](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472bd02406c9f60e75b1466_Flaunt%2BMagazine%2BAscend%2BKeanu.jpeg) Photographed by [**Baariksgallery**](https://instagram.com/Baariksgallery) **How was your experience leaving college to be a full-time musician?** I felt like it was the right thing to do. It was kind of abrupt at the time. I felt a pull from both music and football. I was really committed to football and I had a really great football coach.  But once I started making music in my dorm, I didn’t feel like banging my head and doing this anymore. I wanted to nurture music and I believed that I could take it to as far I wanted.  But it’s tough because I thought I was going to make it happen in a year or the next year, but it’s just been a constant grind. **I saw that you and a bunch of your friends’ handles start with ‘ascend.’ What is the meaning behind your name and ascend collective?** It came from a time where I was really struggling. The relationships I had were kind of falling apart.  I didn’t have a place to stay, so I was literally homeless for a few moments and I was going through so much shit. I was just thinking of positive affirmations to help reset my mind and to remind myself of what I wanted to achieve. I was reading a bunch of different books and ‘ascend’ was something that really resonated with me. This type of mentality is not something that is short term and will die off, but it’s something that I can live by. Photographed by Baariksgallery ![Photographed by Baariksgallery](https://assets-global.website-files.com/62ee0bbe0c783a903ecc0ddb/6472bd02406c9f60e75b146e_Flaunt%2BMagazine%2BAscend%2BKeanu.jpeg) Photographed by [**Baariksgallery**](https://instagram.com/Baariksgallery) **What was your vision behind your latest track “Faded in LA”?** I think that fading away was an experience that a lot of people could connect to and felt that I had experienced a few times.  And a lot of the times when you’re out here, you’re on a bender and it’s just one of those nights that feels like a blur. While shooting, I walked into a goat when we were on the street. I knew I needed to put this in the video. It truly showed how random the city is and what will pull up on the corners of LA. **What was the creative process like for your debut directorial and editorial music video?** I’m someone that’s pretty hands-on with all my music.  I started teaching myself how to produce and that let me be able to mix my own music.  Now with directing, I realize that the more angles that I have, the more value and leverage I’m going to have. While I definitely think more minds are better, I definitely want to come with the vision.  With the video, Chris Jack and I produced the record. I ended up writing a treatment for it and making a shot list for it. Some things came into the video that we weren’t expecting that really benefited the project, like the goat situation and some just really genius shots. Since we were on a timeline with my label, I wanted to edit as quickly as possible, so I told Rambo and my team that I want to edit it the next day and at least get a rough edit. But he was like I got to fly to Miami and shoot Future’s video so I might not be able to come back until next week. I couldn’t wait that long, so I decided that I was going to take a swing at it.  It was just a really good learning process with me realizing that I can start this from ‘Point A’ all the way to ‘Point C.’ The situation just forced me to to finish it regardless of what was happening.  Luckily, it came out well and better than I expected. **What’s next for Ascend Keanu? Anything in the works?** Just making quality product. I’m about to shoot another music video in a week or two. I just want to start leveling up, especially with my vision. I want to take it to a level of quality like Netflix, so I’m just working and grinding.  I hope to consistently keep releasing videos for the next few months.  I think that’s just my main focus.