By Underground Press
Published Wednesday, 24 January 2024 08:27
Welcome to another insightful interview brought to you by Underground Press, where we delve into the minds of ground-breaking musicians shaping the global music landscape. In this edition, we had the pleasure of sitting down with the immensely talented Kenny Hughes, whose music has garnered recognition on a global scale. As we explore the influences, aspirations, and unique journey of this artist, we aim to provide readers with an exclusive look into the creative process that brings his distinct sound to life. Join us on this musical journey as we discuss the release of Kenny's latest album 'Born & Raised' available now on all streaming platforms > https://linktr.ee/kennyhughes
Q: Your music has gained recognition globally. How do you perceive the role of your South African roots in contributing to a global music scene, especially considering the two new tracks, and what cultural aspects do you intentionally infuse into your sound?
I've been largely influenced by international styles my whole life, mostly from the UK and USA. Seeing as my two largest influences are Mark Knopfler and Jimi Hendrix, I've always aimed at sounding similar to them with my own flavour. However, I do believe that some African rhythmic styles do bleed through in my voicings. I guess playing the Blues/Funk genre through an African lens is quite unique, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Q: In an increasingly interconnected music world, are there specific international collaborations or cross-cultural influences that you'd like to explore in future projects, especially following the reception of the two new tracks?
Thanks to the internet, these are not impossible tasks by any stretch of the imagination. I'd love to connect with like-minded musicians around the globe, especially in Europe and America, so that I might take my music to an international stage and maybe introduce South Africa to a few talents from abroad. I feel like music is meant to be shared, first and foremost, so an "exchange program" of sorts might just be in order. The two new tracks are so vastly different—one a slow blues, the other an upbeat Funk jam. I feel this dynamic caters to a wide variety of listeners.
Q: Fans often have unique connections to your music. Have you come across any particularly touching or memorable stories from fans that highlight the impact your music, including the two new tracks, has had on their lives?
Definitely. The most amazing shows I've played are the ones in which I was performing covers, and some members of the audience requested one of my original tracks by name. One, in particular, was when I played "Run Along" on request, and members of the audience sang along, word for word. I was absolutely blown away.
Q: 'Born & Raised' showcases a fusion of Blues and Rock. Are there other genres you aspire to explore in your future work, and how do you see your music evolving in terms of genre boundaries, especially with the inclusion of the two new tracks?
"Born and Raised" showcases another genre too—one with which I've fallen in love with of late: Funk. I am definitely going to explore this genre further. There's something so "feel-good" about funk. Making someone like me dance is a difficult task, but the Funk makes me groove, which is so much more powerful!
Q: Music has the power to bridge cultural gaps. How do you think your music contributes to cross-cultural understanding, especially with the two new tracks, and do you actively seek to create music that resonates universally?
I aim to write music that resonates with most people. I live an average daily life, experiencing highs and lows, just like anyone. It's in these moments that we see who we really are, and that's what we have in common. Through this, I like to believe my music is relatable to most people.
Q: Beyond global recognition, how do you think your success has impacted the local music scene in South Africa, especially with the release of all your singles over the past years that now feature on your album 'Born & Raised,' and are there emerging artists from your region that you believe deserve more attention?
Maybe my music hasn't broken any records or raised the bar in any way, but it might have shown up-and-coming musicians that it's worth trying to put yourself out there. Record that song, play that show—you never know where it might end up. If I can inspire the "basement muso" to pursue that first gig, then hey, I think I've done my part. I believe there are many artists who deserve more attention. I've always said that there's an audience for everyone, no matter what genre you play; there's always at least someone who will love what you do.
Q: The music industry experiences global trends. How do you stay attuned to these trends, and do they influence the direction of your music, or do you intentionally resist certain trends to maintain a unique sound, especially with the incorporation of the two new tracks?
I don't follow any particular guideline or trend. I simply write what I feel and play what excites me. If one of my songs ends up falling in line with one of these trends, then great! If not, at least I can look myself in the mirror and say I never compromised. It is this attitude, I believe, that cultivates serious, dedicated fans. Originality and staying true to oneself are the true marks of an artist.
Q: 'She Knows' touches on the power of the Earth's elements. How do you incorporate cultural or environmental themes into your music, and do you see a responsibility as an artist to address broader social or environmental issues through your work, particularly evident in the two new tracks?
Not necessarily in the two new tracks, no. But "She Knows" is definitely a call to action. We get so self-involved in our personal issues that we tend to forget what's really important. The Earth is our home, and we should be taking better care of it. The line "she knows" is purposefully written repeatedly as it's vitally important to realize that the Earth is a living organism, with an intellect of its own. If we would just listen, maybe we could save it and make it a better place for all of us.
Q: If you could collaborate with musicians from any cultural background, which culture or region would you choose, and what do you hope to achieve through this cross-cultural musical exchange, especially considering the two new tracks?
I would love to collaborate with true African musicians; I simply love the rhythmic sounds that artists such as Johnny Clegg were able to capture in their sound. It is a distinctly "African" sound that I've always admired.
As we wrap up this insightful conversation with Kenny, we extend our sincere gratitude for sharing his musical journey and insights with us. We encourage readers to explore the diverse sounds of his latest album, 'Born & Raised,' available for streaming now. Join us in celebrating the artistry of Kenny and immerse yourself in the soulful blend of genres that make his music a unique and captivating experience. Thank you, Kenny, for your time and for enriching the music scene with your distinctive voice.