SoulBounce: How does it feel to be the new kid on the music block?
Kesington Kross: It feels great. I’m in a great place now, and I’m prepared for it. Preparation meets opportunity, and I’m ready to give my art to the world.
SB: You’ve been compared with everyone from Frank Ocean to David Bowie, who are each very unique. But what people really wanna know is, who is Kesington Kross?
KK: I’m a bold artist. I’m all about artistic expression and having a perspective as an artist and being definitive and being forward thinking and pushing boundaries. I’m all about blending genres and also paying homage to the past and other decades of music and blending them with the futuristic aesthetic. So I consider myself an artist through and through, an artist in full.
SB: Audio Justice has a definite ‘80’s influence. Is that one of your favorite musical periods?
KK: It’s definitely one my favorites, the reason being is because my father owned a record shop, and he owned it from the ‘70s to the ‘90s, and then he wrapped up all his records and had them in the garage. I used to sneak out there and listen to the records as a kid, so I got acquainted with a lot of different music from different decades. I found with ‘80s music that it was the decade where people were free in their artistry. Using the ‘80s was the greatest platform to introduce that on this album. I do put in a movement through decades on the album, it’s influenced by not just the ‘80s but some ‘90s and [it’s also] very modern. You know, moving things forward.
SB: You were discovered by none other than Babyface. How did that come about?
KK: Actually I went over to his studio, and I was working with some producers that had signed to him and he had overheard some of the records that I had done. He asked me to come over to the big side where the big dogs work [laughs], and I went over there and did a session with him and we did a song together. So he said, “You wanna reference it? You wanna demo it?” As a writer, I’ve always had a passion for the artistry, you know, but at the same time you kinda have to take certain steps in this industry, pay your dues, per se. So I was just writing and demoed the record. I was singing, he was like, “I want you to feel it.” Usually when I’m demoing a record, I wanna be as ambiguous as possible vocally, because I’ve always been an artist. So I sang and actually redid the song and as I was singing he stood up and was like, “You’re an artist. I can’t promise you anything, but I’m gonna send some records over to L.A. Reid.” And the rest is history.
SB: Wow! That’s an amazing story.
KK: It was a moment, too, because he literally stood up and was like, “Wow! That’s good! You have a great voice and emotion and you write so well!”
SB: I'm sure having an artist of that caliber tell you that was a “pinch-me-to-see-if-I’m-dreaming” moment.
KK: I definitely was at a loss for words. But I sang through it! You put your heart out there on the table and you give your heart and soul to the music and people feel it.
SB: You’re from Compton, which is known more for gangsta rap than it is R&B. How does being from Compton play into your musical aesthetic?
KK: It doesn’t necessarily play into the aesthetic all the way through, it’s not necessarily a constant thread. What I will say is that I learned to speak what’s on my mind and to persevere and I learned strength from living in the hood. It ain’t no game when you’re living in Compton. I spent half of my life in Orange County and we lost everything and moved down to Compton, so it influenced me in that way. I also found an appreciation for rap music and it helped me develop my cadence and learning the pocket as a writer. And I do have some records where I’m talking shit, so it gave me some of that sensibility as well, where I’m just like in your face. It’s like my aggression musically.
SB: “Gimme Your Love,” which I really dig by the way, is your single. Can you give me a little about what prompted you to write it?
KK: I’ve always have had an appreciation for that moment when you meet a significant other and that feeling in the air, and it’s all true and just honest. I’d had an experience with a young woman and she was beautiful and everything seemed promising. There’s something about capturing that feeling when you first meet someone and it’s like “Wow.” The air feels different, your vision is different. I wanted to write a record that’s about that, you know? The simplicity of love at first sight and the angst behind grieving it and it almost being addictive.