KYMBERLEY KENNEDY SHARES ‘WHAT THE FUNK’ MIXTAPE AND OPENS UP ABOUT MUSIC AND LIFE
Stunning and talented UK based singer, songwriter, producer and mixer Kymberley Kennedy, gives away as a free download, her new massive mixtape ‘What The Funk’ and talks about music and life.
What are your earliest musical memories?
My dad was a one man band and played lots of instruments, but Sunday mornings in our house were filled with the sound of the piano. Some people need to have sheet music in front of them, but my dad would close his eyes and feel the music. I used to get frustrated that I couldn’t join in and do it too. He was effortless.
Where did you grow up? Who encouraged you to start performing?
I grew up in Leeds and I was a pretty timid child. My shyness was the main reason that my parents enrolled me in dancing and gymnastics – they were basically trying to give me the tools to be less timid.
It worked to a degree because nothing else mattered when I was dancing. I later lost interest in dancing and naturally progressed to the other side of music. I started to write it instead of dancing to it.When did you first start writing?
I was writing from a young age, but I guess it started as poetry – a means of expressing myself. A form of catharsis.
Have you had any formal singing training?
I’ve never had any formal singing training. I know I’ve picked up some bad habits and I really should get a vocal coach at some point to teach me the correct breathing methods. I’ve been pretty naughty in that respect.
Who are your favourite artists and who has influenced your style?
I have lots of different influences and how much they impact my music changes dependent on the song or how I’m feeling at the time. For example, I think Portishead were very much ahead of their time, so much so that I am only really beginning to truly appreciate them now. They made some timeless classics that are still very relevant today.
If you can listen to a song a few decades after it was released and it still manages to speak to you, it’s a sign it’s a classic. At the moment, I’m listening to a lot of music by Delilah which is very emotive.
For me, it’s not about any one genre and I’m not the sort of person that will only become a fan of an artist if I like all of their songs. If a song speaks to me, for whatever reason, then it’ll be on my iPod and that artist will likely be my favourite for that week.How would you describe your music?
I think my music is quite eclectic, though a lot of artists say that nowadays. It’s not that I necessarily set out to do that. There wasn’t a lot of control behind it. It’s just how things ended up. I think I’ve just about done everything – breaks, pop, electronic.
But there’s definitely a mellow side to my writing. It’s always nice to have that contrast – we can’t have happy uptempo songs all the time. I find I learn more about myself with my slower songs as it’s all about being emotive and far less about singing a catchy hook or being on point with a funky beat.
What’s the story behind, ‘That’s What He Said’?
I think we’re conditioned from a very early age to just settle. We’re told to be realistic, get a proper job and be happy with it. Anything else is laughed off as an unreachable pipedream. I’ve had everything from teachers scoffing at the very notion of doing anything musically to boyfriends and friends alike making snide comments.
It’s sad and demeaning and it made me really doubt I’d be any good at it. I’ve learned that it’s important to surround yourself with the right people and I am very blessed with the support and encouragement I now have from those around me.
So when it came to writing ‘That’s What He Said’ my confidence had grown and I decided to make light of the situation and turn it into something that I could laugh about. I don’t regret any of the circumstances that influenced ‘That’s What He Said’. Sometimes the best songs stem from a negative place.
What are your favourite tracks that you have written and why?
My personal favourites are ‘All I Wanted’ and ‘Hit and Run’ for very different reasons. I’m really happy with how the song (All I Wanted) turned out and it’s great to have a fun song that just ‘is’.
I like ‘Hit and Run’ for the opposite reason. I hadn’t really written a song about a relationship or a breakup before and so it was great to explore a more haunting tone both musically and vocally.
You write and produce all your own music but who would you most like to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Chase and Status or Thomas Newman. I know they are at completely different ends of the spectrum but they both have music that resonates with me. When I’m listening to Chase and Status’ music I’m stupidly trying to analyse it, like ‘how have they done that?’ or ‘how did they create that sound?’
Then I remember what I’m listening to and enjoy it instead of trying to dissect it. Thomas Newman is an exceptional composer – being a movie buff, I discovered his work through movies I’ve watched.
Everything is so intricate with Thomas Newman and he really does manage to convey waves of emotion from sometimes the most subtle accents or an explosion of strings. He makes it all look easy.
First record you ever bought?
I don’t remember the first record I ever bought, mainly because, if I was going to buy music, I’d save up so that I could treat myself to a few albums at a time. I remember the first ever CD I received as a present – ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ OST.
I absolutely love horror movies (I was too young to go see it when it came out at the cinema) and I must have enjoyed that one because I specifically asked for that as a birthday present one year. I like how varied soundtracks can be.
How did you pick the songs for your mixtape and what was the process of putting it together?
I did a mixtape last year to showcase some of my original tracks, but this time I wanted to show a different side of me. I wanted to do a mixtape to showcase my influences and some of my musical tastes. I chose to do a breakbeat/ funk mixtape because it’s that genre of music that allowed people to first hear me sing. It gave me a voice.
Photos by Paul Scala