Kennedi is a name you should remember – her talent and versatility as a singer, songwriter, and producer are second to none. You may have seen her name as a co-writer on songs like “Hesitate” by Jonas Brothers or “Fake Smile” by Ariana Grande, but she’s also making a name for herself as a solo artist. Her alt-pop songs have garnered her 20,535 monthly listeners on Spotify and are perfect for fans of Bea Miller, Charlotte Lawrence, and Sasha Sloan. We had the opportunity to chat with Kennedi about her process in the studio, writing her new single “apology,” and what it’s like writing songs for other artists.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started with making music?
KENNEDI: I loved music since I can really remember. I would pick up instruments as a young punk ass kid and start banging on them until they made a sound that I liked and then I put silly words to them until I understood that I was making songs and just didn’t stop!
BTS: How would you describe your music for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
KENNEDI: It’s going to hit all of your senses. If you really truly listen to the song, all of the elements- you’ll be able to place yourself into my shoes and really feel, hear, & see everything that I was in that moment.
BTS: Who are some of your influences, musically and non-musically?
KENNEDI: Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, Bon Iver, Kanye, 070 Shake… & honestly living in Minnesota. I think that’s the thing that has influenced me the most. I was raised with a loving family and got to grow up with the Minnesota nice morals which I think greatly affected who I am today and maintaining my sanity through this industry.
BTS: What’s your process like in the studio?
KENNEDI: I produce as well, so normally when I’m working I like to work from scratch, come up with some chords and freestyle some melodies and see what they make me feel. Sometimes if I’m writing to a track, I don’t want to hear it before I go into the vocal booth so I can get my true authentic first melodies out that I hear. Then I pick through those and kinda structure them around and realize what I’m saying through all the gibberish… and it eventually turns into a song!
BTS: Can you tell us about your new song “apology”? What was the recording process like?
KENNEDI: I keep a journal folder in my notes where I will write down random thoughts or things that I hear that strike me in a certain way that I save and look through when I’m in the studio. ‘Feels like i owe you an apology’ was an excerpt of one of those journal entries I made on 3/14/19. It was one of those songs I didn’t wanna write but I needed to. I brought it into a session with my friend Chelsea Lena and Heavy Mellow and was smoking a blunt and crying the entire time (which is the most me thing ever) so it was really hard for me to cut the demo. I think we did like one take? But those are the songs that people relate to the most. The most painful things become the most beautiful after you heal.
BTS: How did the recording and writing process for “apology” differ from projects you’ve released in the past?
KENNEDI: This one was very intimate because Chelsea [Lena] and Heavy [Mellow] are very very close friends of mine, and knew the story first hand so I felt very safe in talking about it with them. Which let me be my full authentic self.
BTS: You’re not afraid of holding back topically in your music, is being open and honest important to you as an artist? Why?
KENNEDI: 100%. I believe thats why most of these songs lately have no longevity. They don’t feel authentic to the listener because the artist didn’t write them half the time. That’s not a bash on anyone thats just a different form of art. I want my songs to be timeless and I think the only true way to do that is if its 111% your story you are telling. People can feel when it’s not genuine. Whether they know why or not.
BTS: What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned as an artist so far?
KENNEDI: No matter how many songs I’ve written or released stuff – the anxiety of people not liking it and fear of the world’s reaction is just as terrifying as the first time. I think opening your heart up to the world and just letting them go free for all on something you’ve spent so long creating is terrifying. No matter how many times you do it.
BTS: In addition to your own personal project, you’ve co-written songs for artists like Ariana Grande and the Jonas Brothers. What’s that like?
KENNEDI: One of my favorite things in the world. I can’t believe it’s my job in a way. I’m a story teller, so getting to work with these artists and hear their stories and kinda help them frame it- I describe it like being a therapist… I’m so honored these people I’ve looked up to and listened to their music for so long allow me to help them tell their stories.
BTS: How is writing for or with other artists different from writing songs for your own project?
KENNEDI: I get to listen to their stories and experiences and help them frame it into something beautiful. It’s an honor to be trusted in that way. Opening yourself up to people – especially strangers at first is scary.
BTS: What’s one fun fact about yourself for our readers?
KENNEDI: Hmm… I love videogames. Especially sports ones on the PS4, hockey…madden. I can play sims for hours. It might be bad actually… hahaha
BTS: What can fans expect from you this year?
KENNEDI: A bunch of music… I’ve had my 2 EPs for so long and I can’t wait for the world to hear them. Hopefully COVID clears up and I can tour, but if not we’ll figure something out.
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