EXCLUSIVE: Kenya Jade on influences, aspirations and inspiration for "Don't Come Back"14 November 2020 / by Myaah Farrell (author)
Kenya Jade is a budding singer-songwriter from Toronto, Canada who prides herself on connecting music with common yet uncomfortable emotional narratives. Her new music video for the single 'Don’t Come Back' is an empowering, pop inspired anthem about breaking the cycle of a relationship that’s no good for you. With her raspy voice and soulful lyrics Kenya’s willingness to be vulnerable clearly resonates with her ever-growing fan base. Earlier this week we had the chance to catch up with Kenya about her artistry, influences and inspiration for her new track.
Myaah Farrell: What initially drew you to music?
Kenya Jade: Well it’s always been a part of my life. Initially I thought I was gonna take a more academically lead path but when I was pursuing my Masters degree I noticed that my heart was in music. I also had all the resources available to me so once I finished school why not take the opportunity to pursue something I love.
Farrell: How would you describe your music style?
Jade: I think as a newer artist I’m still trying to develop my style so its difficult to pinpoint one area. But I think you could categorize my sound as an r&b soul but sometimes its also a bit pop as well. I'm still trying to find my lane.
Farrell: What do you want to say with your music?
Jade: I really want to emphasize connections. When you reflect within yourself you notice that there is something that we all kinda share. And I think that thing is love. I talk a lot about relationships in my music but I also talk about uncomfortable truths that a lot of us aren’t willing to reflect on.
Farrell: What was your inspiration behind the lyrics for Don’t Come Back?
Jade: I wrote the single about a year ago. Essentially it was about a relationship and this guy where we had been through four cycles of the same thing. I guess the inspiration was to let go of things that aren’t for us anymore and learning to walk away. It sounds like on the surface I’m telling someone else don’t come back but I think that’s advice I really wanted to offer myself.
Farrell: What was your inspiration behind the Don’t Come Back music video?
Jade: The director that I was working with asked me to look deeper into the song. I thought about it and realized that yeah this is something that I want to speak to myself about. So we did a lot of play with the mirrors. Another key was that we didn’t want it to be about the one guy so we hid him behind a mask. I guess the inspiration was to reflect on what I had written and how we could portray that visually.
Farrell: Where do you hope achieve in your music career?
Jade: I hope that I have a platform big enough to say some important things that will change the way the world is working right now. In my undergrad and MA degrees we studied a lot of identity politics so I want to share what I’ve learnt there through a larger platform.
Farrell: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?
Jade: I listen to a lot of Janis Joplin which is where I developed a lot of the twang and the rasp. Lauren Hill because her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is my favourite of all time. I listen to a lot of Adele, Amy Winehouse and a lot artists from the UK.
Farrell: How do you feel about being a woman in the music industry?
Jade: It’s been really challenging and I didn’t expect it to be. It sounds a little patriarchal but my dad didn’t want me to do music just because he knew all the struggles I would have to go through as a woman. I’ve had a lot of uncomfortable advances that look like opportunities but really aren’t. But when you're in a room with people who respect you and respect your art it makes it worth while I think.
Farrell: Who is your dream music collaboration?
Jade: I think I would like to work with Adele just in the sense of writing. I think she has a really intimidate thing going on that I want to try and perfect.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.