The singer opened up about her new double album, Keys, with ET's Nichelle Turner, talking about her process for creating the album, getting back to her roots and collaborating with her son.
"We call it unlocked because there's two sides of the double album -- the first side of the originals, and the second side is called unlocked," she explained. "When we talk about that unlocking, it's like, you know, just fully being who you are, and you don't have to hold back in any way. And I love this feeling because I do feel like I held back in a lot of ways and so to be just in this place of pure freedom, pure expression, whatever that might be. It feels, you know, definitely unlocked."
But it wasn't easy reaching that place of freedom as an artist. Keys shared that the most important step of her musical journey was feeling comfortable.
"I think through the different moments, finally deciding to feel comfortable with however I felt and just kind of acknowledging that and recognizing I'm feeling this today," she said. "Why do I feel like that? Am I scared of something? What am I scared of? Am I feeling? Am I projecting something? Who's projecting? Is it mine? Is it somebody else's? You know, all of these things where you actually can kind of sit with how you feel and pay attention to it and look at it and stare it in the face and ask it some questions. And so, I think that practice was actually one of the ones that really started to at least open me up to know that, you know, explore it a bit."
"As a writer, especially, you're writing these things, you're writing what you feel, what you're going through, and sometimes you find yourself judging it. Is this a strong enough song? Does this convey well enough? I don't know. Maybe it's not really good enough," she shared about her songwriting process for the album and how she would explore her feelings and not judge them. "Is it good like some of my other songs? It's like, no, get rid of all the judgment and get rid of all the chatter. Just go for what you're feeling. Go for it. Like, go with it, try it, and you think about it later. Don’t think in this moment. Just be."
One of the new experiences the artist has ventured into is collaborating with her 11-year-old son. "I couldn't even believe it. I was, like, tearing up and I felt so crazy because he's like, 'Mom, what?' And I'm like [laughs], 'Nothing!' It's just amazing," she gushed.
"And you know what... I think sometimes it's hard to even have the courage to try and I wouldn't even blame him if he was like, 'I don't, you know, not right now.' But he was open to it. He has a beautiful voice. It's a version of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,' which is a song that we've sang since he was a baby. And now we have this song together! It's a sweet lullaby that we did on Apple. And it just dropped. So, I have to say I was, like, super proud mom zones."
Considering that both his parents are deeply involved in the music industry, it's no surprise that Egypt is so connected to music. Keys revealed that the tween would join them whenever they went on tour, jumping at any chance to play the drums or other instruments when he could. "When I hear him play, I definitely stop in my tracks," she said. "I'm listening to his chords and I'm listening to his choices. It's not been a surprise because he's always been connected to it. He sings a lot of Bruno Mars, and I think when Bruno and Anderson .Paak go on tour, I'm definitely bringing Egypt because I think it would open his mind to what's possible."
Until that mother-son trip can happen, Keys said she's very much looking forward to getting back on tour.
"I really miss people. I think we all miss each other a lot. And I'm really looking forward to putting together the most magnificent show you ever saw. I just want to, you know, that's what Keys is all about. Keys is really about not holding back," she said. "It's about being incredible, mind-blowing, and... unapologetic! That's the unlocked side of the Keys album, just be completely who you are. And so, I'm really looking forward to putting it together in a way that's just like mind-blowing and I'm excited because we get to connect. It's been a minute. You get to connect over multiple songs and multiple moments in our life. And it's going to be stunning. Really. I can't wait."