In July 2016, Khalid Robinson was celebrating his high school graduation – unaware that Kylie Jenner was playing his single ‘Location’ to over 30 million followers. The song became a US Top 20 hit and he’ll join Lorde on tour in the UK later this year. With his debut album ‘American Teen’ out now, Khalid explains how he got here.
You grew up all over the world as your parents were in the military. What was that like?
“It definitely created this sense of loneliness, but it’s something you learn to accept. If I hadn’t moved around, I wouldn’t have written my first song ‘Saved’, so I wouldn’t have written ‘Location’. You have to be uncomfortable sometimes to be inspired.”
The album is all about your youth. Was it scary putting yourself out there at 19?
“Vulnerability was intimidating to me at the time because I’m putting all of my emotions into one album and I’m throwing it out there to the world. I feel like the album was a time capsule. I’m presenting all the emotions I felt when I was 16 to 18 to the entire world.”
Kylie Jenner boosted your song ‘Location’. What happened there?
“She played the song on her Snapchat the same day I graduated and it just blew up because her fans wanted to know where it was from. It’s not an obligation – she did it out of love for the song. It fast-forwarded things for me.”
Now you’re pals with Lorde. Has she given you advice about being a teenage icon?
“What I picked up from her was to never be afraid to take risks. She’s out there being herself and she’s not afraid to break out into dance if she wants to dance. That’s how I want to be.”
From: El Paso, Texas
Buy: Debut album ‘American Teen’ is out now
Live: Manchester O2 Apollo (Sep 26), London Alexandra Palace (Sep 27), Brighton Centre (Sep 30), all with Lorde