A pianist since eight, self-taught music producer since age 12 and an all-around talented soul since birth, Kennen’s love for music is innate. He gained popularity after his song"Timothée Chalamet” went viral – an ode to a crush he had who looked like the famous actor, the video has over 100k views on YouTube.
Kennen is creative at heart and singing is not the only thing that fuels his fire. Kennen has been busy creating new music (album to drop this summer) which he produces, shoots, and creates his own videos for and returning to performing live. The Markham native joins this year’s First Up with RBCxMusic program roster, and I had the chance to catch up with him about his successes.
Check out the Q&A style interview below:
How are you doing, and how do you feel about summer coming to a close?
I’m good, keeping busy with live shows and production projects. I definitely wish summer was a few weeks longer!
As seasons change, do you find this influences your song writing heavily? If so, how so? If not, why not?
The atmosphere definitely changes, but I’d have to say that my song writing stays the same. I'm consistent all year around, and I can create any vibe I want—which is important because the song you made in winter might not be released during winter. I’ll have to mention though, I did make a song inspired by the changing seasons themselves! That’s “1 2 365 4 me."
Describe yourself as an artist in three words.
Resourceful: I didn't grow up with a lot, but to achieve the level of quality I want in my music and visuals, I had to improvise to make it work with the limited resources.
Visionary: Not trying to toot my own horn with this big word, but when it comes to my own songs, I start from scratch– with writing and production, then direct and edit all my own visuals.
Relatable: All my songs are pretty personal and direct,
Who are some of your current artistic influences?
Conan Gray will always be one of my favourite artists. Many people drew comparisons between me and him during his Sunset Season/Kid Krow era. But there days, I’ve been in my Mariah Carey phase, which is so random for an indie-pop artist. I’ve re-discovered her old discography months ago and I was surprised by not only her vocals and creative melodies, but especially her song writing.
How did you get involved with First Up with RBCxMusic and what are some experiences that have come with this? What advice can you give artists to find promotional opportunities like this?
I’ve heard there were hundreds of others that applied. I’m very lucky to be on this year's lineup! I’ve received many special performance opportunities, including the TIFF Festival Street. We also had an artist summit a few weeks ago, which was such an amazing experience. I got to meet all of the other First Up with RBCxMusic artists (some were have been flown in from across Canada) and we got to network, attend panels and even attend an Alicia Keys concert.
I remember when you released "In Transit" last year you had a really cool way of promoting it by sending people transit passes in the mail! How did you come up with this idea and was it fun/challenging to execute?
It was so fun! I came up with the idea during a meeting with my former manager. She was able to mail out the letters, which was so helpful. During my first few shows ever, I tried throwing them out into the audience, but they never made it further than like 2 metres, so I gave up on doing that one…
How much involvement did you have in the "In Transit" remix?
Here’s the story behind the remix: The instrumental was actually the original demo for the song. In 2019, my singer friend Vardaan Arora came up to Toronto from New York to do some writing sessions. We did a few songs, and one of them was “In Transit”, which didn’t make his EP “HEARTBREAK ON THE DANCE FLOOR”. But, I later revamped my production, going a more chill bedroom-pop take, and put it out as my own song. However, earlier this year, I knew I wanted something special for Pride month, so I polished up that demo with Vardaan’s recording, added my vocals for the chorus, and also invited rache to add her own verse. I’ve been producing for her for a while now, and I knew she’d absolutely kill her verse, and she did! I mixed and mastered the remix, as I usually do for my work.
What's next for you?
I’m seeking to exit my current label and continue releasing independently again. My listeners may have noticed I still haven’t been able to release “Art Class” (my upcoming 2nd EP) after announcing it last year, but I’m making sure it finally gets out soon!
Follow Kennen on Instagram, TikTok, Spotify, and Apple Music.
Interview by Gemma Mastroianni