Posted On 28 Oct 2015
Tag: Aaron Paul, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, allaccessmusicnicole, Billboard's Dance/Club Play Songs, Justin Timberlake, Kenna, Kenna One-For-One Campaign, Nicole DeRosa, Nina Dobrev, One For One, One For One Artist, Press Here PR, Press Here Publicity, Rachel Zoe, Sleep When We Die
Ethiopian–American musician, philanthropist and technology creative, KENNA just announced his new album Songs for Flight and the very special way he will be making it and releasing it (more on that below). His new initiative has already gotten social media support from Justin Timberlake, Aaron Paul, Nina Dobrev, Rachel Zoe, and many more.
KENNA will become the first ever One-For-One Artist, bypassing the traditional music business model and crowdfunding the production of his next album, Songs For Flight.
With his commitment to improving the world through the business of music, up to 50% of his profits will go directly to deserving causes around the world; causes and social issues that he and his fans care about.
To launch this campaign, he’s embarking on a brand sponsored worldwide tour to meet people who affect change in the world, artists and his fans to film the music video for the first song from Songs for Flight, “Sleep When We Die.” Beginning September through October 2015, Kenna will visit Los Angeles, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Chennai, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Paris, London, New York, Haiti and Mexico City where fans are all invited to come out and participate in filming.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa had a chance to catch up with the multifaceted artist. Read more in their chat below!
Hi Kenna! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
Hi Nicole! I’m in flight from NYC to Haiti and I’m getting ready to celebrate one of the most resilient cultures in the world with my friends and allies at RYOT – Bryn Mooser and Artists For Peace And Justice, my shooting team for the Songs For Flight Experience with friends Mark Foster and Nora Kirkpatrick.
For those that are not familiar with you and your music, how did you get your start? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
I got my start as a studio monkey and nerd for my friend Levi Little at Teddy Riley’s studio in Virginia Beach VA when I was a teenager. I snuck my way into being around all the time. I don’t think that anyone knew what I was doing there and how I got in, but I did. That same studio would produce for Michael Jackson, Blackstreet, and every major artist in the mid 90’s. It would also launch everyone from Pharrell and the Neptunes to Timbaland, Missy, Usher, and more. I remember one time, seeing D’Angelo sleeping on the floor of a friend’s apartment trying to get on. It was a mini Motown and Teddy was the big fish in a very small pond.
Michael Jackson’s music struck me, but Bono’s journeys moved me. Something about the way he stated a question in a statement like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” that put me on a mission to make music that lets people go on their own journeys. I think that you learn from the greats that you can find inspiration is anything you experience, but the experience is not something that comes to you… you have to go towards it and that is what I try to make with my music… an impetus for actions and travel in life and mind.
You just announced your new album, Songs for Flight (with lots of social media support from Justin Timberlake, Aaron Paul, Nina Dobrev and Rachel Zoe) and you will be the first artist releasing your album via One-For-One Artist, bypassing the traditional music business model and crowd-funding the production of the album. Can you tell our readers more about it and why you chose to go this route?
What a great example of how Artists can support one another, right. My friends and amazing humans and their is a time coming where we all will be able to support each other while supporting ourselves in this new tech age of Art. (Especially if I have anything to do with it).
I think people are tired of the greed and fear that the music business perpetuates. Most people don’t know what is happening behind the doors of the industry, but they can feel it in the frequency of the music that’s out there now and how the songs are being shoved down their throats… They can’t DO anything about it, but hope that an artist will come and stand for something while making music that is undeniable.
What exactly is the One-For-One Artist initiative all about?
This is my application for the job. I am committed to make great music because it is in my DNA to do so. I am further committing up to 50% of the profits of my music, tickets, syncs and merchandise to the causes that my fans and I care for, as a stand for what I believe art is supposed to represent – being generous and bold instead of caught in fear and greed.
Who have been your inspirations growing up that also inspire you today?
My family for their tireless fight to give me an opportunity to be great. I will not squander that.
I think that I am always inspired by my peers. Justin Timberlake and Pharrell are such good humans and disciplined talents who want to be epic at what they do. I am inspired by that.
What did you learn between your previous albums and collaborations that you felt you wanted to infuse into Songs for Flight?
I learned that I was not in control of my destiny and I was looking for someone to save me, manage me, and keep me from the dark places. I am now comfortable with the dark and how it is the extremes that bring the depth of life. I am here to game change. I am here to write music journeys. I am here to be an architect of the future of music and support my peers in their pursuit to potentially translate that into change in the world at large.
Your first single from Songs for Flight is for the song, “Sleep When We Die” and you are also doing something special with this video as well. Can you explain?
Yes! To inspire the album #SongsForFlight, I have just literally travelled the entire globe recording and engaging with my fellow peers and chronicling their mantras, struggles and inspirations for their art to apply to the architecture of the album. Everyone from Scott Harrison at Charity Water to DBlast a dancer in Tokyo who Chris Brown has dubbed the next in dance.
All the while we shot the video for “Sleep When We Die” and had fans in the video. Doing it all in 30days! BOOM.
Nowadays, everything is so instant…you press a button and it’s yours ala Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes etc. What was the first album you saved up your hard earned money for and bought for yourself?
Joshua Tree was my first. I sold gum in school and somehow earned enough to buy U2 tickets to that tour… I bought the limit – sitting in line for hours. 4. And, then I scalped them. for 500 bucks each – I was rich. My friends were mortified because they all wanted to go – such a fail. But I had never heard of U2. My friend Chris Loch gave me his copy of the album and forced me to close my eyes and listen and I was off… shave a couple bucks off my profit. bought the album and regretted not going to that tour – to this day.
What was the first song that you can remember falling in love with and why?
“Can’t Stop Til You Get Enough” – Michael Jackson
I choose MJ because he said everything like he had linked up with God and got a formula for how to make people feel good while you taught them that there was something bigger to consider. Just genius.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists or bands are in current rotation for you?
I use this app called Undrtone that my friend Scott Vener (aka BrokeMogul) made. You honestly find the best music because he has curated some of the best music heads into it. My handle on the app is OKKenna. Get the app before he takes it purely private.
Here are my current picks: Sleeping Alone by The Physics, Fast Lane by Rationale, Leaving For Fordam by Theo Martin and everything MuraMasa
What’s on tap next for you, Kenna? What are you most excited about for this year?
I’m looking forward to making a great album and the goal is to take my friends and fans on its continued journey. I am thankful to them because without them true Artists don’t have a future. I want you to like my music, but I want you to LOVE my purpose. This is art and Nothing Is Greater Or Less Than Us for it. >I|I<
To learn more about KENNA’s musical journey and how you can be involved, visit his website HERE