In Conversation with Moss Kena

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How’s everything going with you right now?
MK: Really good, released my new single today so I’m obviously buzzing for that

That was my next question! I’ve listened to ‘Be Mine’ a couple of times now and I’m really enjoying it, can you talk us through the track a little?
MK: It’s a song about that feeling when you meet someone and you’re trying to sort of persuade them to fall in love with you back. It’s really playful and seductive, rather than soppy and totally emotional so it’s a good bit of fun.

Check out some of Moss’ other tracks here!

What was the writing and production process like?
MK: I worked with a producer called John Calvert, who’s done stuff with NAO in the past so that was dope. I think it was about a year ago that it was first written so I’m glad to have it out now!

Can you talk us through your song-writing process? What comes first, is it lyrics or melody?
MK: I don’t have a set process, I work with some writers who have a real step-by-step method, but for me I sometimes start with the beat and work until I have a melody to put words to. It’s often not strict at all. It’s kind of organic in the sense that I need a notebook all the time in case I suddenly think of something, I write a lot of things down that can sometimes turn into something.

The video for the track is comes out not long after as well, right?
MK: Yes! We shot that a few weeks back now, it’s looking amazing! It was fun to do, it shows lots of different couples at different stages of their relationships in a fun and dancey way – it really suits the song well.

2018 was a massive year for you: two EPs were released and you supported Jess Glynne on her UK tour, as well as your own headline shows and in amongst that you got a lot of support from mainstream media like Radio 1, 1Xtra and even Elton John. How does it feel going through all this?
MK: It was amazing, it was an amazing year. To be able to support someone as big as Jess, and you missed Bastille off that list as well, is crazy for me! Elton John talking about my stuff was probably the highlight, it’s a great reminder that I’m doing the right thing. They’ve all given me great advice as well so its honestly a really amazing experience.

Your real break-out song was your cover of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘These Walls’, what drew you to that track?
MK: The whole idea was to get people used to my voice, we had tonnes of original material stored up but it didn’t feel right releasing it yet. I needed fans to be able to build up an image of me first, and for that it was really important to cover a song that I wasn’t just going to do a straight version of, that’s kind of boring! I thought it’d be cool to take a rap song and make it into an ordinary song with more melody. We didn’t do any PR so when the Soundcloud upload starting going viral and getting Kendrick’s attention it was a bit wild. He really liked it and I’ve got to meet him since a couple of times.

I was going to mention that, obviously it connected with listeners (me included), but Kendrick responded to you. Can you talk us through how that came about and what he said?
MK: It was out of the blue, I was on a writing trip in LA in the studio and so when there was a knock at the door and its Kendrick Lamar that was a bit crazy. He came in and said “I’m looking for Moss Kena” so I was sat there in shock, like “Oh, hi!” [laughs] It was so scary because he’s my idol, I love his so much I just ended up focussing on not embarrassing myself.
Meeting your idols always goes like that [laughs]
MK: Yeah, it’s got a lot easier now, I’ve met him a couple of times since in London and I got to go to his show and BST festival and all that. I feel really lucky

Did he give you any advice that’s stuck with you?
MK: Yeah, he’s been amazing! He told me that my voice is so unique and that is my selling point and to always use it to my advantage, that whatever style I go into my voice should always be the main feature of anything I do. That was such great advice I think.

Who would you say is your biggest musical influence?
MK: Definitely Amy Winehouse, I used to listen to her music when I was very young. Back to Black was one of the first albums I bought and I used to rinse it, playing it back to back at about 10, feeling a real connection with her and the music. I’m her biggest fan I’d say!

2019 has started quite nicely for you: you’ve supported Bastille in Manchester and released a couple of singles, what is coming next?
MK: Lots more music, a lot of singles and videos. I’ve been in the studio a lot so there’s plenty of stuff built up. There’s a lot of shows and you can probably throw a couple of festival appearances in too, I’d love to perform outside the UK as well. All in all it’s a really exciting time!

Are these singles building into another EP or is there possibly an LP on the way soon?
MK: Its all a little hush-hush at the moment, but I think they’ll be leading to a bigger project over the next year.

You mentioned festival season there, have you been booked for anything you can tell us about?
MK: I am playing at some but unfortunately they haven’t been announced yet. It’s coming soon so people will have to keep an eye out for me [laughs]

What have you been listening to recently?
MK: I’m really into a singer called Summer Walker, I think she’s sick! I’m also a massive fan of H.E.R., I supported her in London last year, that was a great experience. There’s a really good singer called Kara Marni, from London, she’s really young and cool.

Moss Kena’s latest single ‘Be Mine’ is out now, to buy, stream and download, and he is currently supporting Rita Ora on her European tour.

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