Meet the Canadian artist who's bringing new levels of sincerity (and skill) to her genre.

Music

9.5.2017

Kennedy Rd is Defining Authentic R&B With "Day and Night"

Let’s talk R&B: and we mean real R&B, not that pop electric sound that labels push to sell records, or the tracks coming from the hottest EDM DJ at your summer pool party in Ibiza. We’re talking that R&B you want to listen to when your heart has been broken on or slowly sliced with the words “let’s be friends.” The type of R&B that creates a wave so massive other genres feel compelled to expose their emotions and vulnerabilities. The type of R&B radio stations don’t typically play, the type of R&B that doesn’t have inhibitions, the type of R&B that acts as a therapist through heartbreaks, friend-zoned text messages, and the “we’ve outgrown each other” blues.

Toronto-based songstress Kennedy Rd knows real R&B—and this euphonious vocalist’s latest single, titled “Day and Night”, has her opening up to fans about wanting something deeper than a casual relationship. Dropping hits over the last six months with a sound that emulates the best of 90s slow jams, she’s serving up honest and insightful lyrics, opening the door to the most intimate of emotions. With lyrics that identify with today’s fast paced relationship woes, we can surely expect to hear more from this hypnotic songstress.

MILK.XYZ got the lowdown on Kennedy Rd’s journey into the music industry, her experiences being a female artist in Toronto, and future project Feelings Cafe; check the full interview below.

Tell us when you started creating music.

Yeah I’ve been singing my whole life. I grew up in church but I didn’t seriously singing until about three years ago but I was in Toronto and I was going to studios but nothing was really coming from it. So, I tried to have jobs, went to university, I tried a few different things, and then I started working at this local restaurant called Fringes which is Drakes restaurant and we had All Star weekend. It was crazy packed you know a bunch of artists and there were so many things going on and I was finally like, “What am I doing?” I felt like I was on the wrong side of everything. I put in my two weeks notice after that, took my last pay check, and  moved to LA. I didn’t really know what I was going to do and I didn’t even know where I was going to stay but I was just like if I want this to happen I need to move out of the city and really make this happen. I got to LA and stayed with a friend of mine from Toronto who is married she has a home out there and everything. I stayed with her until I made the right connections and started working in the studio. About a year and a half ago that’s when I really started to develop and it’s been a developing process ever since. In February I put out my first couple of songs and now it’s just kind of getting started.

Drake shouts Kennedy Road in songs—is there any connection between the street and your name? What’s the significance of that street in Toronto?

Kennedy Road is like a staple in Toronto. It runs through the greater Toronto area and a lot of the boroughs. There are pretty much two main reasons why I chose to go by Kennedy Rd, I definitely have a lot of ties and some of my best memories were off of Kennedy Road it’s significant to me for many reasons. The bigger reason is that my last name is Kennedy and I wanted to use the name Kennedy but there are so many Kennedy’s in the industry so I have to find a way to distinguish myself. At the time I was in LA feeling really homesick and I thought I should just call myself Kennedy Rd.

You recently released a dope track titled “Day and Night”—what was your inspiration behind the track?

That was actually one of the earlier tracks that I did like early on in my development and it was the first track that I got really personal. It talked about something I was going through at the time and I think it’s something people in this day and age can relate to—the process of dating, really liking someone, not knowing what’s going to happen. You know that in-between stage of well we’re together and we spend all of our time together but like is this real? You want that person to open up to you and you want it to be a real thing. That’s what I was I going through at the time and it’s really talking about how long is it for you to see who I am, see what we are, and how many days does it take to get to your heart? How many nights does it take to get to your souls? You know? I really wanted it to be real and I wanted to know if this was going anywhere. A little bit of impatience. That’s just really what I was feeling at the time.

Will there be a music video for the “Day and Night” track?

Yeah! Actually, I just shot it the other day. It’s in the editing process. I shot it out here in Toronto and I’m excited to be here in Toronto and get all these visuals together with a very authentic Toronto scene and vibe. I’m excited to put it out!

Nova Gholar produced five of your tracks. Do you find it more encouraging to work with one producer who understands your vision or open to trust other producers and their idea for something new?

I met Nova when I was in LA and he was the first producer I’ve ever worked with on a development tip. Him and I built up a really good synergy and he’s helped me learn how to dictate my own studio sessions and really get across my own story within songs. I love working with Nova because of how he’s helped me come out of my shell but the point is to work with other people and try new things. I think that’s important in order to develop yourself as an artist. I’m going to continue working with Nova as an artist for a long time.I’m going to be doing some recording in Toronto, he’s going to be around here  to support and be around. I can’t say I’m really interested in having one main producer especially not at this point. I’m open to see what type of a sound and vibe I can get with different people and different locations. I found when I record in Toronto it’s very different from when I work in LA—the sound, the vibe, the mood, everything. I think it’s important to try different things.

How would you describe your music?

I’d say it’s more of a 90s R&B and more recently it’s become sensual like mellow kind of a vibe. Even my uptempo songs are mellow. I think “Day and Night” is probably the most uptempo song I have and it’s not a song that you’re going to be playing in the club. My songs are vulnerable, definitely vulnerable, as I develop my songs are more honest and more and more vulnerable. That’s what I love the most about it. But, the sound is definitely like 90s R&B and that’s what I’m most inspired by. The artists that I love the most are Janet, Aalyiah, and Sade. They all have their own sounds—it’s R&B but these different facets and my sound is somewhere right in there. I grew up to 90s R&B and it was the soundtrack to my life and it’s cool for me because now I can make the soundtrack to my own life but still have the 90s feel.

There are quite a few male musicians who hopped into the scene from Toronto but not so many women. What trials and tribulations have you faced being a women in the music industry?

First of all, I gotta say I’m eternally grateful for the Drakes and The Weeknds because Toronto has always had all this talent but until they came out the world wasn’t really looking at Toronto. They opened a gateway for a lot of Toronto artists that may not of been the case if it wasn’t for them.

For females just to be completely blunt when I’m in other parts of the world I notice poverty, racism, and Toronto doesn’t really have those issues. I find in my experience the biggest thing is sexism here in Toronto. I’ve spoken to males in the industry in Toronto who have said the reason why girls don’t get on in the industry because all they are good for is to sleep with. There is this definite ceiling for females especially in the urban scene. I really don’t know why that is; it’s a mystery to me that I’m trying to figure out. I can see it’s harder for females to get out there. I noticed before when I was in Toronto first trying to get to studios and record I’m not taken as seriously. People would generally be more interested in a guy if they came to the studio and what they were doing. It’s definitely a challenge. Being back in Toronto I can see how much female talent there is and it’s unbelievable. I think there is about to be a huge wave of female talent coming from Toronto not just musically but in all art and creative forms. I feel proud even though there are difficulties for whatever reasons that I can’t understand I just feel proud of breaking that ceiling. It’s insane the amount of female talent we have in the city who are being held down. I’m glad you asked that question because it’s a real thing.

You’ve released a few songs in the last six months—should we be expecting any big projects or EPs in the near future?

Yeah what I really want to do is have a show in late October early November. I’d like to have a project out by then. I want my first show to be in Toronto and I actually plan to stay in Toronto for a while. There is such an authentic creative vibe in the city right now. I love it! Everywhere you go people are doing photoshoots and people are trying to create something. It’s such a good vibe out here right now I’m just trying to soak it up.

What’s the name of your next project?

It’s going to be called Feelings Cafe.

Cute!

Yeah it’s going to be just me and my feelings. That’s really what it is. It’s an emotional project and I really want this first project to be as vulnerable as I possibly can right now. I want people to really know who I am.

Images courtesy of David Whittaker

Stay tuned to Milk for more of Canada’s finest. 

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