Q: Please introduce yourself a little, your name and tell everyone a bit about yourself!
A: My name is Kennedy (they/them). I’m 24 and I’m from New Jersey. I love gardening and cats and playing minecraft.
Q: How did you get into music?
A: My parents had a big role in getting me into music. My neighbor taught piano lessons and so they enrolled my sister and I while we were pretty young. I mostly learned classical and a little bit of jazz piano. My dad showed me a lot of r&b and soul music that still influences my taste today. My mom was also a choir director and singer. She would put on gospel music in the car and teach me and my siblings how to harmonize to the different parts. I quit piano lessons a few times but I picked up the guitar in college and started writing songs right after that.
Q: Do you think making music came naturally to you?
A: I do believe I've had the potential to make music— it just had to be nurtured. I always had an inclination for it growing up but I never knew I would want to write my own songs. I think I would hear original melodies in my head sometimes but I had to train myself to pay attention and remember them. When I started writing in college, some of the ideas I had for songs really clicked and it became a hobby I could tap into at any moment. I became really hooked on the feeling of conjuring up a sweet little hook on my way to work or during class. Now it’s like second nature.
Q: How has your music changed or how have you grown since first starting to get into music and now?
A: Some of my first actual songs culminated into my album Semi Sweet which I wrote between the ages of 19 and 20. Sometimes I look back on them and laugh. I had a really hard time handling my feelings and it’s kinda funny to think about now. All my songs were a lot more like okay this is what is literally happening to me. I think now I’m able to be a bit more at the will of each idea I have. So when I’m writing, I think less about what’s going on with me and more about what the song needs or what would be more fun to sing or how the words would feel coming out of your mouth.
Q: When you say “what a song needs” what do you mean? Obviously songs need things but maybe can you expand a little about what you mean?
A: What I mean by that is that I try to separate myself from a song and make it almost for someone else. I try to approach it with respect for it as a song instead of just my song. When I relinquish some of my ownership of it, I’ve found that I’m able to create with less judgement. I try to get to know the song as I would a person. Once I can pinpoint some of the major facets of it, it feels like the song itself will tell me how to finish writing it. It’s a bit mystical honestly.
Q: Can you talk a bit about your process of making music?
A: All of my ideas begin with a melody. There will be certain sounds I hear or syllables that I think would fit phonetically into the melody and then I build the lyrics around that. I try to incrementally fill in the structure then just see what kind of story I can tell from what I’ve pieced together. I usually start to hear what the accompaniment sounds like from there and then I have to teach myself how to play it. I would definitely say I’m more of a songwriter than a musician so the hard part for me is always plucking around to find the right chords and notes to match what I’m hearing. Then I’ll send a demo to the band and work with each of them one on one to flesh out their parts until it looks the most like what I’ve envisioned.
Q: What type of experiences are you drawing from when you make a song or even an entire album?
A: I see my albums as more of a chronological thing than a concept thing. I think it’s really nice to be able to capture the moods and feelings I’ve had over the span of a couple years. It can also be really indicative of what kind of sounds I found exciting in that moment or who I’m listening to. A lot of my newer work touches on the work that I’ve been doing on myself. I’ve always struggled with my self esteem and I’ve been working to build that up and just feel more comfortable in my skin. You can really hear the difference in my tone from then to now which makes me feel proud.
Q: Is writing about these experiences difficult emotionally or do you feel like it’s something you just have to do to heal?
A: The subject matters will either end up being really intuitive or strictly accidental. I’ll write a song and just fill it with certain words as placeholders so I can move on. But a lot of the time when I come back I realize whatever I came up with was really raw and applicable to my situation. I never know what experience I’m pulling from until a few months out when I’m able to understand the situations themselves more clearly. I think that separation I have from the songs helps it not feel too emotionally draining if not just completely embarrassing LOL.
Q: You have a single coming out in January, you tell us a bit about the song? What it’s about or even just how it makes you feel or why you wrote it?
A: The new single I wrote in January of 2021. It feels really good that it will come out around that time next year too. I would go on long walks every day in the cold listening to and writing music or just singing to myself. When I wrote this song, I was listening to the song Smoking at the Gas Station by Helena Deland and was harmonizing with it a bit. A new melody just kinda revealed itself from there and the whole song came together within an hour or two. I wanted to try to make something that felt really fun and liberating to sing. I imagine driving fast down the highway blasting it and singing out the lyrics with your friends.
Q: Do you think the “effortlessness” of making this song, as in the quickness and feeling you got from it, is typical when you write a new song?
A: Effortlessness tends to be how I know a song will continue to be good. Some songs I’ve spent years adjusting but some are so clear in an instant, I can feel like it’s finished in a few hours. The ideas that I don’t really try to induce are the ones that are much more focused sometimes. And perhaps just because I don’t have to spend enough time with them to get sick of them. It’s a lot more rare since I’m always trying to write for practice or for fun. But when it comes it almost feels like a little gift.
Q: In general are there any musicians or artists of any medium that inspire you?
A: I really love Ecco2k, Bjork, The 1975, AG Cook and No Rome.
Q: What type of art inspires you that isn’t music. I feel like personally, while I am a photographer, books inspire me to the same degree as photographs?
A: I can sometimes be really intense about my process. I’m always writing melodies and when I’m not writing I can begin to feel kinda guilty about it. When that happens I always turn to movies to get out of my head for a bit. I also really like watching anime. The stories and colors can be so refreshing and beautiful.
Q: Have you ever come up with an idea for a song because of anime or a movie? Or are these things more an outlet that lets you relax creatively and think clearer? If that makes sense...I guess when I watch movies as a photographer it is really inspiring and helps me come up with ideas where as paintings just make me stop and think.
A: That’s such a good question. I think it’s both. I’ll turn to visual media in general as a way to clear my head but then once I have the clearer head, I can sometimes immediately start writing again. A lot of the time I just end up feeling really good afterward and I want to channel it into something else. These days I make a point to be like I’m just going to watch this movie and I’m not going to turn this into work lol but it’s hard.
Q: As artists I think our medium tends to be an outlet for our feelings or the things we are seeing, do you think your music is an outlet for you? Does it help you process the things both good and bad that you may experience in life?
A: I recently took some time off from work to focus on music. Although it feels really good, it’s a bit less of an outlet and more of a job. I’m in a phase where I’m trying to learn as much as I can to hone my sound and technique whereas when I first started, there wouldn’t be as much thought into those things. I do find a lot of purpose in the challenge of it all, which is an outlet for me in its own right. But when I’m just writing alone in my room I think it will always feel therapeutic. It’s good to remember I write for me and no one else.
Q: That’s always a good rule to live by, doing things for you and no one else. Do you ever it difficult to remember that?
A: I think when you receive any type of success for your work, even if it’s small, it’s easy to start feeling pressure about it. The only work I have out is my first attempt at making music. For so many reasons I can only return to it seeing all of its flaws. I sometimes feel rushed to put out new work so I can prove myself to other people. But I have to remind myself to be patient. I didn’t work to get better at music because I wanted recognition, I do it because I love it and feel devoted to it. There are songs I never even plan to put out that I would consider some of my best. It’s nice to have some things for yourself to hold onto.
Q: How do you feel about music today? Do you have any bones to pick with the industry? This can be from any angle!
A: Labels and executives will always try to make us latch on to folks who just look conventional and can sell a lot of records. I used to get really mad about it but it’s a machine that’s bigger than all of us. It’s a lot easier to ignore it and just focus on the things that are pure and compelling.
Q: What excites you most about music?
A: I’m really excited about where pop music is going right now. I love music that blends genre or can’t be contained by it. I mostly find myself listening to melodic electronic music or guitar pop. I love music that sounds like fantasy.
Q: What do you hope for for the future of your music or even just music as a whole it doesn’t have to be just you it can be all music everywhere.
A: I want to be able to produce my songs more independently and soon I want to start directing my own music videos. I have a deep desire to execute my ideas in a way that is extremely focused and intentional. I want to be an artist that pushes music forward. I want to be the role model in music I wish I had.
To listen to Kennedy’s Music on spotify click here
To listen on Bandcamp click here
The advice i would give to any artist is to be extremely patient with your progress. If you continue to do what feels natural to you, you’ll end up with a much clearer vision of what kind of artist you want to be and what kind of art you want to make. It takes a really long time to get to know who that is and it can always change. Accept yourself in every state and trust that the art you believe you’re capable of making is the art that you will make.
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