It took very little time after releasing her Grammy-nominated mixtape You Should Be Here for Kehlani to become a hair chameleon. From long dark waves to blunt bright bobs, Kehlani is relentlessly adventurous, showing off both tomboy charm and a sexy edge. The brainchild behind Kehlani’s dazzling versatility is Kahh Spence, a 22-year-old Brooklynite who left college two years ago to pursue his passion for hair.
Billboard talks exclusively with Spence about the inspiration for his work, the most common wig mistakes, and prepping for his first international tour with Kehlani.
What’s it like working with Kehlani?
It’s really fun because we’re the same age so we relate to each other and talk to each other a lot. We actually have a pretty cool bond now. With some clients, you have to hold back on some stuff. I get to be more myself with her. Usually I come up with most of the ideas and I run them by her. It depends on what the occasion is, but she usually trusts whatever I come up with because she knows I won’t steer her wrong.
How are you preparing for tour with her?
I feel like this is a big break for me. This tour is going to be huge because I’m able to showcase my work in many different cities. Kehlani is letting me do a lot of what I want for this tour. She only gave me two specifics: she wants to go really long and she wants a wavy texture. I’m really close with Debbie, her stylist, so we’re collaborating to make sure her hair goes well with certain looks. Even though it’s nerve-wracking, it’s really exciting.
Are the bold looks and bright colors something you’ve introduced to her or is that her style?
She’s been bold before, but with wigs, we’re starting to bring it back now. She had red hair before [me]. One day, one of her fans commented under her post saying, “Bring her red back,” and I never thought to do red, but I ended bringing it back and everyone went bananas. People love it. She loves it. A lot of people are influenced by what we do now, and I love it.
What is your favorite look you’ve made for her thus far?
Probably the red bob that she did for her release party in California. It looks so natural and it fits her face so well. She really loved it.
How do you create looks that are going to move well with her on stage?
Making sure hair is of great quality. That’s the main key in working with performers. There needs to be no matting in the back of the neck because with some performers, when you get sweaty all over, hair tends to tangle. On tour, Kehlani will be wearing all raw Indian high-quality hair. At rehearsal, I usually have her rehearse with different style wigs just to see what works and what won’t work.
Who is your biggest hair inspiration?
Kim Kimble. She styles Beyoncé, Zendaya, Taraji P. Henson. If I ever had the opportunity to work with anyone, it would be her. She’s very bold and creative when it comes to hair. She’s a hair mogul.
What is the most common wig mistake people make?
Not getting wigs that are made for their bone structure. For someone with a very long face, I personally wouldn’t suggest a long wig because it’ll elongate the face even more. I would suggest something a little shorter to highlight certain features on their face.
What is the most common misconception people have about wigs?
People say, “I don’t want to wear wigs because it’s going to look like a hat on my head.” People think they don’t look natural when they can if you get it done properly. Make sure the right person is doing your hair. Make sure they’re applying the wig properly and making the hairline look natural because if the hairline is too dense, it won’t look as natural. No one’s hairline is really as dense as wigs come. Wigs need to be tweaked a little before applying them.
What else does 2017 have in store for you, aside from the tour with Kehlani?
I’m most excited about Coachella. Kehlani’s performing and I’ve never been. I get to go off on her look. I’m also working on my own hair tour for the end of the year and some top secret projects, so stay tuned!