Today we Spotlight – Niki Kennedy. A New Zealand native, Niki moved to Toronto to continue her education. We chat about her music and the newest release Fall Back To You so check it out!
Welcome with us today the beautiful and talented Niki Kennedy! Thank you for joining us. Would you like to give an introduction to our readers who might have not had the pleasure of hearing your music?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist living in Vancouver and I just released my latest single, “Fall Back Into You.”
Who were your early inspirations?
I was really fortunate to grow up in a household where music was always playing and dancing and singing along were encouraged. My parents listened to a lot of discos, R&B, Motown, and pop music so early on I was drawn to great voices – Whitney, Celine, Diana, Gladys, Aretha, Donna, Mariah, MJ, Freddie, Stevie, Boys II Men… needless to say, their vocal stylings and incredible interpretations provided a lot of that early inspiration to sing.
What made you embrace music as a career early on?
As cliche as it sounds, music just brought (and still brings) me so much joy. I took every opportunity to sing and create throughout my childhood and I’m really not sure I can remember a time where music wasn’t everything.
You have a mix of singles that are light and bouncy or slow and plaintive. In our current year with every artist striving to make the next catchy (but simple) tiktok hit, how do you stay true to your deep emotional lyrics and melodies?
TikTok has emerged as such an incredible platform to connect artists with potential listeners and I think it’s proven it can be a powerful part of the picture for musicians.
For me, I hope to make music that makes people move and feel – either emotionally, mentally, or physically and I want to make music for a long time. So, all I can hope is that if what I make and share comes from a genuine place, by creating with purpose and intent, it might resonate with people and maybe they might wanna stick around for the journey.
Speaking of tiktok, what do you think about how drastically the music scene has drastically changed in the last two years with the rise of such social media apps?
More than anything, I believe that especially throughout the last two years technology has allowed people to connect during a period that has been lonely and incredibly isolating for a lot of people. Art, and specifically music, is resilient and creators have proven time and again that we can and will adapt. Sometimes beauty and creation are born out of our darkest moments and I think social media and apps such as TikTok have provided a really unique platform for expression and innovation. I’m excited to see how it evolves and how it shapes the future of creation.
Your newest single “Fall Back Into You” is beautifully reflective and assiduous. What place were you in mentally or physically when you wrote the song?
The song definitely came from a very physical place. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about music. How it can be associative and affect us in ways that transcend expectation sometimes. Some of my favorite songs are ones that feel like a gut punch (the good, proverbial kind). Once I had the chorus chord progression, I created a loop. I used drums, pads, bass, keys, and a little texture to get me in the right headspace. Then let myself trust what it made me feel. This song evoked a lot of imagery for me right from the start so it was a matter of translating those visuals to music.
On your Instagram, there is a small clip of the new song. Is that hinting at an upcoming music video?
Haha, I only have a maximum of 30 seconds on Reels so I had to limit it to just a little sneak peek of the song. I have some video content coming down the pipeline that I’m looking forward to sharing in the near future.
How was working with your producer for this track, Shane Stephenson?
Shane is a wonderful human who is so patient and kind. I always say he has this incredible ability to take the messy wires in my brain and turn them into something beautiful. And I think that’s pretty freaking cool.
Many musicians want to know if they should major to further their career. How were your years at Randolph College? Was it a jump start for your career?
I was 16 when I started my training at Randolph, in a brand-new country, and on my own for the first time. I definitely had no idea who I was yet or what I brought to the table. But what it instilled in me was work ethic, how important it is to constantly work hard and learn and grow, and be prepared. Those are lessons that have been at the foundation of every success I’ve had so far.
From 2019-2021 there were no new releases from you. Did you work on independent projects during the pandemic?
Unfortunately, 2020’s sudden change of direction delayed all release plans. I am grateful for the time I had to establish a new musical reality for myself. I had to figure out how to pivot and make it all make sense after every gig and show cancels and live music completely disappeared. For me, that ended up looking like hundreds of virtual performances.
I was able to perform and license three original songs for a national campaign. I had the great privilege of originating a starring role in an audio adaptation of a brand-new Canadian musical. For this, I was able to write, record, and contribute to other people’s projects as well.
My first single of 2021, The Last Night (Dancing With You), was actually written and recorded last year. It was wonderful to finally share it with the world (even if it happened a little later than I originally hoped).
As a New Zealand-born, schooled in Toronto, and now based in Vancouver, did each place affect how you wrote and performed music?
Absolutely. I think our environment plays heavily into how we exist, relate, and contribute to the world around us. And I think as artists, we interpret what we see and perceive. Despite writing songs my whole life, it wasn’t until I moved to BC that I began sharing and releasing my own music.
Which place feels the most home to you? Are you enjoying Vancouver for the time being?
I think New Zealand will always be home for me. That’s where my parents live, my family is there, and it is a big part of who I am and what keeps me grounded. But Canada has been my every day for my entire adult life. I’m so grateful to live here and call it my home. I love Vancouver, the weather is much more to my liking (Toronto winters were always a bit too cold for me!). It’s truly hard to beat nature – mountains, ocean, paradise!
How was performing on CTV live the other day? What was your warm up process that morning?
Honestly, what an honor. I was so excited (and nervous!) to have the opportunity. Because of the time difference between ON and BC, it meant I was singing live at 6.45 am. That’s definitely the earliest I’ve ever performed! I’m not really a “morning person” so I had to go back to basics – vocal warmups, lip trills, the works!
Would you categorize your music into one or more genres? Who do you envision your audience as?
Genre is always a tough one for me and I would say. When actually creating music, I try not to worry too much about its classification. I’m hugely influenced by a broad range of styles. I want to create accessible, relatable music. Music with strong melodic hooks and contemporary sensibilities. Also exploring musical techniques and lyrical context that challenge the boundaries of mainstream pop.
What is the next project of Niki Kennedy?
I have a new single coming soon that I’m super excited to share with the hope it makes people feel good. I’m in the early stages of writing a longer-length work and exploring how that will take its shape over the next year.
I’m going to continue playing virtual shows four nights a week on Volume, despite live gigs coming back. Livestreaming has opened up this beautiful world for me and has allowed me to connect and reach people all over the world with a common love for music. It’s pretty special and I’m so grateful for the community that has been created throughout this difficult time.
To send us off would you like to give a shoutout to a person, organization or charity you feel needs it right now?
Music is a healer and SO important and something I believe should be accessible and inclusive for all. So I’d like to shout out two amazing Canadian charitable organizations. They advocate and raise awareness for music education and for music therapy – MusiCounts and Music Heals.
Spotlight – Niki Kennedy is a wrap! Big thanks to Niki for taking the time to chat
Check out Fall Back Into You right now
Keep up with Niki here
Get your own Spotlight simply by reaching out