ROLLACOASTER MAGAZINE: EMERGING TALENT: FASHION & MUSIC.

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WE TALK WITH KANDA TO DISCUSS HOW HE FIRST GOT INTO MUSIC

Rollacoaster caught up with Kanda to discuss how he first got into music

In February of 2020, 17-year-old Coventry-based hip-hop artist Kanda stood before the audience at the O2, performing in the final of Open Mic UK. Two years later, the now fully autonomous artist is transcending his experiences, moments, and dreams into his upcoming EP, releasing this summer.

Recently, he released his single “IHGYN (I Have Got You Now)” where his heartfelt lyrics lay on a bed of thrilling beats. Speaking about the track, he says, “the general message is that we all have our friends and family around us but you will never know 100% the true story of what’s going on in people’s minds. So it’s just important to let people know the sole fact that you’re there for them. People will sometimes feel like they’ve got no one around them, and often that’s not the case, so it’s a song about reassurance, and mental health. I’m using the song as a message to the people around me, saying ‘This is what I truly feel.’” Evidently wise beyond his years, yet constantly experimenting with different sounds and genres, Kanda's latest single "KISS" takes the listener in a new direction, demonstrating his versatility. So what's next for the young artist?

Rollacoaster caught up with Kanda to discuss how he first got into music, what fans can expect from his upcoming EP, and why mental health matters to him.
Rollacoaster caught up with Kanda to discuss how he first got into music, what fans can expect from his upcoming EP, and why mental health matters to him. 
How did you first get into music?
 
I started singing at the age of eight. I just gradually got into school performances, like performing annually with my school band, then I started making my own songs around the age of 14. Then at 16 I performed at the O2 Arena in the final of the Open Mic Competition UK. That was my first big venue singing performance and I think I just realized that was what I wanted to do going forward. Then I got into more festivals around Coventry, the Midlands, and the UK. I performed at the MOBOs, which is an award ceremony for music of black origin. It’s got all the big stars, people like WizKid. It was an honour to perform at that event, and I just want to keep it going.
 
And you’re 17 now?
 
Yes, so that was only a year ago, but I was 15 when I performed at the O2.
 
Were you ever nervous? That’s so young!
 
There definitely have been some moments of doubt. But like my parents say, you can't really make it if you've got doubts in your mind. You have to make sure that you believe that you can make it to the top, otherwise no one else will believe in you. That's my mentality.
 
That’s amazing, and how would you describe your music to readers who haven’t heard it before?
 
So obviously being 17 years old, there's still a lot that I need to discover about the music world and where my sound fits in. But if I could say one thing, it's that I like to keep my unique sound, but alter between different genres. I like to guarantee that not one song I release is going to sound like the last song I did, which I think is pretty unique. I fluctuate between singing and rapping, I sometimes speed up the pace and slow it down in another song. I’m always trying to show that there are multiple sides to me. So to unravel my style, you may have to listen to more than one or two songs. I’m always aspiring to make songs for different scenarios so whether people are chilling, or at a rave, either way they can put on a song of mine to fit the mood.
 
Which artists have most inspired you and your sound?
 
When I was eight years old, and getting into music, my main inspirations came from the likes of Bruno Mars. He’s a pop artist that's a bit of a show-man on stage, and that’s what I wanted to look like when I was older. Growing up, the more I started to write songs, I fell into the inspiration of Ed Sheeran. Like myself, he writes songs for different scenarios and genres, he’s got pop songs, dance songs... I think he’s been my main inspiration because of his versatility.
 
Can you talk us through your writing process?
 
If I want to write an uplifting song, I'll think back to a time where I felt like how like the beat makes me feel. I'll always listen to the beat first and then write after. Whatever the beat makes me feel is the memory that I'll go back to. For a lot of people writing a song is very challenging, it might take two weeks or something like that. But I feel like that's an advantage for me. When I think about a memory, and I'm writing a song, it just comes to me. All the words are just there - so I just put it to music, to be honest.
 
You’re releasing an EP later this year, what can you share about it?
 
I don't know specifically which date my EP is coming out, but I know that it’s planned to release in June or July-ish.
 
What’s the vibe? I know you said earlier that you like to create songs for different moments, so which moments or scenarios would be best suited to playing your EP?
 
I feel like there's going to be a few songs that are definitely worth dancing to, some to just chill back, and have on in the background. There’s a versatility there, and it will offer a unique range of feelings, so dinner, dancing, chilling…
 
What do you want people to take away from your music?
 
Well, to be honest, I feel like people should take away the fact that I'm young, but I sound mature. I’m 17, and going to be 18 When the EP comes out, but to be so youthful yet talking about topics that they wouldn’t expect an 18 year old to necessarily experience or feel, I think makes me unique.
 
Yeah, that really comes across in your recent single “IHGYN (I Have Got You Now)”, which encourages people to check in with themselves and each other about their mental health.
 
So that's an example of a song that is written from experience. Because what the whole song is about, the general message, is that we all have our friends and family around us but you will never know 100% the true story of what’s going on in people’s minds. So it’s just important to let people know the sole fact that you’re there for them. People will sometimes feel like they’ve got no one around them, and often that’s not the case, so it’s a song about reassurance, and mental health. I’m using the song as a message to the people around me, saying “This is what I truly feel”. What made the song even more special is that we teamed up with a charity called CALM, which stands for “Campaign Against Living Miserably”. It’s a charity that deters people from committing suicide and helps them stop feeling those terrible things. It’s like a helpline - they reached out to us, said that they really liked the song, and we collaborated on that song because their whole message ties in with mine. It’s all about helping people and making sure that people don’t get pushed to the extreme.
Words - Bree Castillo
Photographer - Andrew Broadhurst
Stylist - Josh Arimoro
Groomer - Viorella Coman
Producer - Morgane Millot

Spring/Summer 2020

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