Hayley Kiyoko and Kehlani sat down with The Fader magazine to interview each other about being queer pop stars in the public eye—and, of course, their super-gay “What I Need” music video.
The pair, described by Fader as two openly queer women in pop “forging ahead in relatively new territory,” collaborated for the first time on “What I Need.” The track was released off of Kiyoko’s Expectations, her first full-length studio album, which dropped earlier this year.
Kiyoko directed the music video and starred in it alongside Kehlani, the duo portraying runaway love interests trying to find their place in the world.
The video opens with a heartbreaking scene of Kehlani’s character fighting with her aunt, something Kehlani reveals was very personal:
My mom wasn’t ever in my life. Before that scene morphed into the conversation that we caught on camera, there was a lot of conversation going back and forth with her saying, ’You’re going to be just like your mom.’ I was told that growing up… We shot scenes way longer and had to cut them, and a lot of the dialogue that didn’t make it into the video was actually more personal to me. My family was very accepting when I came out. They had actually been asking me if I liked girls my whole life. They were telling me before I’d even said anything that they knew.
Kehlani told Kiyoko that it “felt amazing” to work with another queer woman artist. “It’s been a blessing to not only meet you,” she said, “but work with you and build with you and make something that really inspired a lot of people.”
Kiyoko, whose fans lovingly refer to her as “Lesbian Jesus,” reciprocated the sentiment.
For me, it’s just so wonderful to work with an artist that I deeply respect in all aspects. Kehlani is just such a force. I am so honored to have been able to collaborate with her and to have her support too. I’m new to this game and it’s just been so wonderful to be able to create with someone that I respect so much and who’s going to go so far. I feel really lucky.
Kiyoko believes the pair “[has] a lot more in store to do together”: “We have the same message and the same end goal. We’re fighting the same fight. I definitely don’t think this is a one-time thing.”
She added that the pair deserves a “Best Kiss” nod at the VMAs for their smooch at the end of the video, and we can’t say we disagree.