We meet Kaysha (49) on a blue-sky day outside the sky-scratching Myriad Hotel at Expo in Lisbon. He approaches us sporting a bomber jacket, ripped jeans, shades – and a beaming smile.

Our original plan was to conduct our interview with Kaysha inside the hotel, but as the location is closed off for a rather dull-sounding conference, it is the perfect excuse for us to go for a bit of a wander by the waterside.

We asked Kaysha what was going on. “I have an explosion of one of my songs from 2006 on TikTok. The song has 2 billion views now. It happened completely organically. People just started dancing to it, and it went from one person to ten, to a hundred, to a thousand.”

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We can’t help ourselves from putting Kaysha on the spot by asking him to sing some of ‘Something Going On’ for us. He duly obliges.

‘Oh, we got something going on

Mr Deejay levanta o som’

Originally from Congo, Kaysha first came to Lisbon in 2003 when his ex-wife persuaded him that he would have many fans in Portugal. Kaysha was skeptical at first, believing there would not be many people of color in Portugal. But it was upon arrival and a walk around Colombo Shopping Centre when a fan approached him, “Oh my god! The king of Kizomba is in Portugal!”

Kizomba, for those unfamiliar, is a dance and music genre that originated in Angola in the late 1970s. The music is a fusion of African rhythms, Caribbean zouk, and European dance styles.

The first time Kaysha came to Portugal, in 2003, a fan (he didn’t believe he had fans here) recognised him in the Colombo Shopping Centre and shouted: “Oh my god! The king of Kizomba is in Portugal!”. Photo: Rita Ansone.

That chance meeting with the superfan led to Kaysha playing a gig in Lisbon. The gig was so successful that a few months later Kaysha had to return to play in Lisbon again. “It was on that trip that I said in my mind – one day I’ll move here, I can feel it.”

In mid-conversation, Kaysha decides to surprise us. “Come on, we’re taking a ride.” To our amazement, Kaysha purchases tickets to take us up on the cable cars (TeleCabine) at the Expo. “This is the best view of the neighborhood,” claims Kaysha. We feel like giddy children taking a ride in Disneyland.

Soon, we are taking to the skies, a little nervously admittedly. We ask Kaysha what he does with his life now, but before he can answer, he gets distracted, pointing out the window of the cable car to various buildings below. “The best Chinese restaurant in Lisbon is over there. And the best Korean restaurant in Lisbon is over there.”

“The terms of what I am arrived years after I do what I do. I was a ‘content creator’ forever. I was a ‘digital nomad’ years before people started using that term. I was already paying my rent from YouTube back in 2008. I realized I could live anywhere then from the money I was making. I mean, I did my first vlog before YouTube existed.”

It’s not quite fair to call Kaysha only a content creator. Kaysha is a lot of things. If you look at his Instagram, he is self-described as a creator, a businessman, a vlogger, a digital sensei, and a father. “Being a father is the best thing in life. Having children really changes you. Us creators are selfish. We need responsibilities. Before I had kids, my art always came first, and I was always working on it. I was always in front of a computer… I was always programming something. Now I have a much better sense of my own humanity.”

We disembark the cable car. “You survived!” says Kaysha. We are a bit nauseous, but we say nothing. We feel like Kaysha’s kids on this adventure, following along on a day out.

Kaysha is in full tour guide mode as we walk by the aquarium. “I have walked in this area for 10 years.” Kaysha seems proud of his surroundings. He points out and explains the various exhibits and sculptures that are around.

Kaysha believes Lisbon changed his life. The city is now his basis, where he creates his music and does his weekly podcast. “You have to be up to date, to embrace new platforms and move away from your own stubborn beliefs about the way things should be,” he says. Photo. Rita Ansone.

Since he has lived in Lisbon, Kaysha has seen changes to the city and admits the rent prices have gone up. “As a migrant, I can’t complain about the people who have followed me. It is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. I know it’s a pain for the Portuguese people, but this is what every city goes through when they start developing. You can’t control change. But it can be a beautiful thing too.”

Kaysha tells us that the trick to staying ahead of the game is simply to move with the times, especially as a content creator. “If you do that, you won’t be surprised. You have to embrace new platforms and new verticals. You need to move away from your own stubborn beliefs about the way things should be.”

Kaysha is busy creating content. He outputs new music on YouTube every week. “I record my voice already mixed. Then I just get on the microphone, and whatever comes out, comes out. I drop new music all the time.” Kaysha also records a regular podcast. “I have a list of topics that I talk about, and I discuss whatever is in the news at the time.” At the time of the interview with Kaysha, he says the recent hot topic is “Harry and Meghan.”

We begin walking back to where we came from. Kaysha points out the cobblestone. “I get that they are historical, but maybe they don’t need to be everywhere,” he says jokingly. Despite this, Kaysha admits he is in love with Lisbon. “There is nothing I don’t like about Lisbon. I believe it’s a city that changed my life. It’s a city that makes you feel accepted. It’s a city where you can take things one day at a time.”

As our time with Kaysha draws to a close, he tells us that he still has more ambitions. He tells us he would like to make music for films. He speaks about making a documentary about his life or making a documentary about Kizomba. “Once you achieve one thing, you need to conquer something else. Otherwise, you will get bored with life.”

Kaysha doesn’t seem bored. Kaysha always has something going on.

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