Q&A with James Kennedy

James Kennedy is a singer/songwriter and front man of the band Kyshera. His most recent album is his 2017 solo album Home, an album that mixes bluesy rock with early 2000’s singer/songwriter vibes. Check out his answers to some of our questions below.

Kevin: What’s the biggest difference for you between playing and recording with Kyshera and playing and recording as a solo artist?

James : It’s totally different! And both have their pros and cons. Obviously with the band, there’s all the camaraderie of being with your mates and doing a loud, sweaty rock show and partying afterwards. Performing solo is a much calmer, more solitary affair. However, a band tour requires so much more equipment, planning, logistics, accommodation, transport and cost. A solo tour by comparison is a lot simpler to pull off. I just chuck my guitar on the backseat and go on a road trip. There are fewer dramas and less to go wrong, which is nice sometimes. So they’re both awesome in different ways.

Kevin: What was the moment in your life when you were convinced that you could do music professionally?

James: When I sent my first demo out. I only made it for my own enjoyment. I only sent it out to some local papers to get closure on it. Within a few months, I’d topped the BBC Radio 1 Unsigned Chart for 6 weeks, had double page spreads in the papers and had several major record labels on the phone. That’s when I thought there might be something to the record. Sadly, the music industry crashed the following year and all the interest in my record died with it.

Kevin: Your music covers a lot of different styles, a song like “Misfits” sounds a lot different from a song like “Behind These Lies”, I imagine that you draw inspiration from very different sources. So, who are some of your biggest inspirations?

James: Oh definitely. I write all the time and I feel that my only obligation is to honesty. If I’ve just written a sloppy, heartfelt ballad then I would never ignore that just because its not ‘rock’ enough or ‘alternative’ enough. If it came from a place of emotional and artistic honesty, then I put it out. So to that end, inspiration can come from anywhere, anger at world events, personal sadness, family, love, heartbreak, existential quandaries, CIA biowarfare programs, whatever! And, I’ve written about all of those.

James rocks out with his band, Kyshera

Kevin: If you could work with anyone in the music industry who would it be?

James : Jay-Z.

Kevin: Why would you want to work with Jay-Z? The two of you seem to be in entirely different genres?

James: We might seem like we’re from radically different worlds – and that’s exactly why I’d love to do it. I’ve been a Hip Hop fan all of my life and Jay-Z is a giant. His lyrics are brilliant and he’s done tons of crossover projects already, so I reckon he’d be up for it. If I was going to collaborate with someone, I’d want it to be something completely different than another bloke with a guitar. 

Kevin: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on tour?

James: Oh man, so many! I went to a Catholic Church Sunday service steaming drunk and dressed like one of the Village People. In Toronto, I nearly froze to death on the roof of a high rise apartment block, in winter at 5am, wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. I fell through a stage 2 bars into a song. Also, I fell off, not through, a stage and busted my ribs. We accidentally tried to pay for a sandwich with a bag of Ketamine. Matt kicked a door clean off a hotel room with one swift kick. Our ex label boss went to jail for shooting someone. Our manager attempted to kill himself and then ran off with all of our money while we were in Italy. I don’t know man, way too much silliness.

Kevin: In one of your tweets you talked about how production in rock, alternative and metal is seeped with electronic elements and productions. What’s your view on the current state of the rock industry?

James: The music industry isn’t dead but it’s seriously unwell. There is hardly any money to be made anymore unless you’re part of the 1% of major label artists or legacy artists. As a result, many bands are doing everything they can to become more and more Radio friendly and diluted, conforming to as broad a market as they can. I love electronic music and electronics always played a huge part of Kyshera’s sound. But, today it feels that the over production of music that’s supposed to be gritty by nature, is a marketing move rather than an artistic one. Art created around a marketing strategy has always sucked.

Kevin: If you were stuck on a desert island and could only bring one album with you, what would it be?

James: The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. The first time I heard it, it blew my head open. And it aligns very much with my own musical philosophy. Sometimes the rules are good, sometimes it’s better to break them and sometimes it’s better to just have everyone making squealing noises. I loved that fusion of melody, dissonance, shock, beauty, traditional and experimentalism. It aligned very much with how I see music. I still can’t fully get my head around it though, so if I was going to pick one album to really get my teeth into, it would be that one.

There you have it friends! Go check out James Kennedy and his band Kyshera on whatever music platform you use.