Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: KENAH

The Nigerian-born artist drops her sun-soaked EP “3:05 Musing”.

Kenah
Kenah

Perfectly-timed in accordance with the current heatwave, Nigerian-born artist KENAH arrives with her splendidly sun-soaked debut EP, “3:05 Musing”. Comprised of hypnotic drum rhythms, soulful vocals and infectious melodies, the 21-year-old is about to deliver a series of rousing and electric summer anthems.

Gifted with musical talent since her childhood, KENAH can never be described as an underachiever. Musical excellence was always the intended path for the musician, having first displayed her vocal talents during her school days where she took lead in the school choir. Since then, the Afrobeat star has continued to excel, eclipsing her contemporaries with her unique blend of genres, which ultimately got her noticed and signed by the prestigious UK-based Nigerian and Afrobeat label, JustJoJo Entertainment.

KENAH released her first single ‘Plenty’, to great acclaim back in June and despite the success of the single, her new EP is undeniably about to take her to even dizzier heights. As we descend back onto the dancefloor, “3:05 Musing” is the perfect Afrocentric antidote for any lingering lockdown blues. Each track is intricately crafted, deeply emotive and universally relatable. As we lead up the release, KENAH describes her creation “as a combination of a piece of plain canvas, with different colours interlaced into a beautiful portrait.”

We caught up with the songstress to discuss her passion for music, the process of creating the EP and her love for Justin Bieber.

Hi Kenah, how are you doing? 
I’m doing great, and I greatly appreciate this interview opportunity. Wonderland features a lot of musical geniuses I look up to, and I feel really honoured to have this opportunity to share the space with some of my icons.

How have the events of the last year affected you creatively?
Initially, I didn’t really feel the effect of the lockdown because I am really an introvert and spend most of my time indoors. The lockdown was announced in Abuja, Nigeria, in March last year. At that time, I was busy doing a lot of writing as I prepared for my meetings with producers, which was scheduled for the summer months in Lagos, Nigeria. The first time I felt the effects of the lockdown was when I got to Lagos. What I saw was surreal; the bustling city with constant traffic congestion was almost a ghost town. It was then that I knew something was really wrong. It was painful and tough to see how folks had to deal with the imposed restrictions and changes. For example, a bank trip I could make in 10 minutes now took all day, and oh, the price gouging was crazy. It was as if folks were taking advantage of the situation; the struggle was really evident and scary at times. On the flip side, the lockdown gave me and my creative teams focus and time to spend creating and developing music that could showcase my talents. Overall, I got exposed to really creative minds – people differently and outside the box – during this period. I felt very welcomed into the world of music, and in less than 6 months, I gained more knowledge about so many things than I have ever known in 11 years of singing. 

When did you first discover your passion for your music?
When I was 10 years old, I listened to a lot of Justin Bieber, and I was ignorantly training my voice to sing like Justin Bieber – I tried to hit every pitch he hit and every note he dropped. Then, one day while in junior high school, I was at the back of the classroom with my head on my desk singing “Baby”, and all of a sudden, there was complete silence in the room. I thought the teacher had come in, so I stopped singing and lifted my head only to discover that the whole class was staring at me. However, being the awkward kid in class that no one talks to, someone belted, “so this girl can sing oh”, and the class erupted in claps and cheering. This experience made me realize how much music meant to me and the things I can do with music, the sounds I can create, and the effect these sounds can have on people. 

Who would you cite as your biggest musical influence?
This is a challenging question because my musical influence comes from different artists and is across various genres. 
First of all, of course, is Justin Bieber. I fell in love with music through him; I loved the mode of his writings and the emotional translation of his lyrics into voice and facial expressions in his videos. Secondly, is a combination of JuiceWRLD, XXXTentacion, and Polo G because they form my kind of Trap music. When I first listened to their songs, I could relate to the pain and struggle coming from their lyrics and voices. In addition, I felt the passion come through them with every track they delivered. 
Third is rap music. I draw my inspiration from Nasty C, Young M.A and 6lack due to their passion and integration of soothing melodies into their raps. However, still maintaining the god-mode they put in their diss-like tracts. Lastly are Boj, Tems and Mr Eazi because they make me understand various textures of voice. This made me appreciate the range in my voice and sparked the desire to develop them further. I feel I can do anything with my voice and make it sound amazing. 

Congratulations on your debut release “Plenty”! What has the response to the tack been like?
The response has been really good. I have seen a lot of dancers vibing to the song. I appreciate seeing this because I made the song for vibers, and dancers have a whole package of it. So I’m happy to see that it has been well received by so many people. I would like to shout out to JustJoJo Entertainment Jay Pizzle and Fiokee for featuring me and these creative music geniuses!

You also have EP “3:05 Musing” dropping soon! What can fans expect from the release?
Every track on this EP is for somebody. So I consider this EP as a combination of a piece of plain canvas with different colours interlaced into a beautiful portrait, while the people I was surrounded with, including my producers, manager, management and fellow artist that I got to work with in the studio, breathe life into this image to make the experience really for everyone who listens. 

What is the meaning behind the track “3:05 am”?
“3:05 am” is the song I primarily relate to on the EP. It is the first song I poured my heart into. It’s a reflection and a summary of what I had to go through to start this journey. It was a very emotional track for me. I believe anyone who listens to it will understand and feel it through the lyrics, vocals, passion and production. Funny enough, the song was actually recorded between 2:30 am and 3:05 am before my producer and I passed out!

You have also recently dropped track “Control”, talk us through this particular project! 
I recorded “Control” in a room filled with people. At first, I got shy to record because it was my first time recording in front of most people in the room, so I suggested they turn off the light before I start the song. After the light was turned off,  the producers played the beat. Almost immediately, I felt a sort of spiritual awakening, which gave me goosebumps all over my hands. I told the producers that I will be recording the song with my eyes closed and introduce some chanting while I record. When we were done, everyone was smiling. Poposky, the song producer, cleaned up the recording and replayed it for all to hear. As the song played and played and the moment the part control came in, everyone was banging their heads and amazed. After the recording, I felt a bit of peace and tranquillity come over me; it felt like I was at a beach and wanted to do yoga… I was really at peace. 

What is next for you? Are there any projects that you’d like to get involved with soon? 
Well, I will say to keep anticipating because I never stop writing. I don’t ever get tired of creating new things, learning and expressing my feelings through the lyrics, melody and passion I put into each track. To my fans, this is the tip of the iceberg, and the submerged portion is still to come. 

Words
Joshua Evans
NEW NOISE: KENAH

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