by Reginald Duvivier
Kenna’s been making forward thinking music for a long time. The songs have the same stick to the ribs attribute that make a great pop song, but the structure, the sound, the ideas have always seemed two steps ahead of everyone else. That’s why even from groups that begrudgingly give praise, fellow musicians and critics, have had no problem showering him with accolades during his career. He’s just dropped the second of his three part EP series, Land 2 Air Chronicles II: Imitation Is Suicide and sat down on the couch for a little chat.
CS: The original plan was to release 3 sets of bite sized EP’s before computer voodoo took hold and set you back a bit. Outside of the setback how has been recording music outside of the single album format’s been?
Kenna: Its been a breath of fresh air to not have to worry about a fully congruent thought for an album. I just want to express the multiple worlds that I live in, and not be confined. The EP’s let me do that. And, I get to then… like Voltron… bring all the sounds together in Songs For Flight, and make something mind bending. Besides, recording music has become like busking. We have reverted to times of old where we play for people on the street and hope to grow a crowd around us that will buy things we make or pay for our performance. Music, and now recorded music is a tool to get people’s attention. I would rather be consistently putting out music that I think of at the moment than wait forever to release music and have it fall on deaf ears and that be that. At least this way, I can keep coming with it.
You’ve been with Chad Hugo a long time as a collaborator, what makes you stick with him in an era where artists rarely stick to one producer?
I am lucky that Chad keeps working with me. He is such a genius that anyone could make great music with him. He makes you better. I have worked with other people, written with other producers like Pharrell and Danja and RJD2, and produce myself, so I do change it up in my world. However, If I want to push the boundries… I go to Chad.
In the past few years you’ve stepped away from being a pure artist from being involved with the myspace relaunch, how has being on that side of the desk, per say, chanced the way you view the medium(if there is any change at all)
The music making side of things haven’t changed very much. It is all about the right collabs. The business side of things are greatly different. There is a massive shift happening, and I wanted to get in the mix of the decisions being made so I can help myself and my peers do well, and not be taken advantage of in the future. Thats why I am at Myspace… Justin Timberlake and our creative team built that place so we can change things for artists and creatives for the better and empower them. We say that we did this for us. In the coming months people will understand what that means. Outside of that, I have been doing a lot with philanthropy as well, and found that art and cause are the same in a lot of ways, and have been building some shit to change the music game up a bit. Its all intertwined in my upcoming launches!
As far as rebuilding the songs that got damaged, have any of them changed for the better? Did you scrap any? etc.
A lot changed. You never record the same thing twice, but some things got better. Some things I think suffered because I had demo-itis. So I just put those songs away. Who knows what i might think is a great song in a couple years when I unearth it. But for now, those are buried.
I know you had specific themes for the EP’s as far as message and meaning is concerned. Was there any goal sonically that you approached this project differently with? Other music that influenced you, sounds you wanted to explore, etc.
There were no sonic goals other than being true to what was being made. Thats the blessing of making EPs too. You don’t have to work on the crescendo of an entire project… its more song focused. So many influences on these records… far and wide… from early Genesis to Rick James and David Byrne… Michael Jackson and U2 always. I am all over the place, but it is more the fact that I am influenced by all of them, but still remain original. Nothing is greater of less than us. I am my influences and my experiences and my alliances combined.
Any touring plans?
Yeah, I gotta get on the road. There is a lot going on, and I am juggling. I need my presentation to be beautiful. I am working on a few things. I may just start spinning a few sets to get my feel back.