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Kenya Grace on making empowering music, teenage inspirations and being chosen in Amazon Music Breakthrough UK: Artists To Watch 2024 list, in collaboration with Notion.

By now, Kenya Grace shouldn’t be a stranger to you. In fact ‘Strangers’, her 2023 single which reached No.1 in the UK charts, introduced her to hundreds of millions of fans worldwide. Having produced and performed the track at just 25 years old, this was a monumental moment and the start of what will surely be a fruitful career in years to come.

 

Born in South Africa, and raised in Southhampton, Kenya Grace is inspired by the soul music her parents played while growing up. Her sound incorporates rapid beat tempos layered with soft, transcendental vocals, evoking both ends of the emotional spectrum.

 

The ethereal electronic and R&B artist will be unveiling an exciting project this year. As we (im)patiently wait to see what she does next, get to know Kenya Grace, as part of the Amazon Music Breakthrough UK: Artists To Watch 2024 list, in collaboration with Notion.

Where does your name come from? 

It’s my actual real name. Grace is my middle name, so my full name is Kenya Grace Johnson. And I just thought it was cool, so I kept it. 

Where were you born? 

I was born in Boksburg in South Africa. Then I moved to England when I was really young and was raised basically in Southampton. I still live back there, but I’m going to have to move to London I think soon.   

What’s your star sign? 

My star sign is Taurus.  

How do you want your music to make people feel? 

I want people to feel empowered, whether it’s through feeling sad or feeling happy. But definitely empowered. That’s what I would want them to take from it.  

Do you have a pre-show ritual? 

It’s the one chance I get where I really don’t think about anything else in my life, I just think about what I’m doing in that moment. So I would say very calm and very deep. I’m terrified before shows, honestly, so I feel like I’m just having a mental breakdown and trying to drink tea and stay as calm as possible. Last time before a show I was listening to meditation music, no joke, trying to do deep breathing. So my preshow ritual is being terrified, definitely.

What’s your main source of inspiration? 

I was really inspired by a point in my life when I used to listen to Disclosure and BANKS and Flume and people like that. That was when I was a teenager, and that definitely influenced my sound so much. Then also, going out when I was in my teen years. That inspired me to make the dance music that I make. When I first started going out, it was really inspiring to go to illegal raves and things. I feel like what inspires me to do music is – I just love making music. No matter, like, If any of this stuff had happened, I would still be doing it. I find it, it’s like my favorite thing to do in the world, honestly.

What drives you to make music? 

Making it is my favourite part, I love writing songs so much. I love trying out new ideas and trying out new sounds, I just love that process. It’s scary to show people what you’ve made, that’s the bit that I’m scared of. And I love performing as well. It’s had intense moments recently, but it’s amazing and a dream come true, honestly. For people to connect with something that I made is really special. 

What’s on your rider? 

This is so basic, I literally have just tea or water. My rider is honestly just herbal tea and water, some lemon maybe. 

Which artist, past or present, would you choose for a collaboration? 

Past, I’d love to collaborate with Amy Winehouse. She’s just so amazing, I would love that so much. And then present, probably Disclosure. 

Do you have a message for your fans? What can they expect from you? 

A little message to my fans would be thank you so much for supporting me and I hope you like what’s to comeI’m dropping a project next year which I’m really excited about, there’s loads of new music. I’m excited to actually do a project instead of a single. And more shows. 

How would you describe your sound? 

The Kenya Grace sound I would say is definitely danceinspired, but also quite ethereal. I love layering vocals and making it sound very reverb-y. I produce my own songs and I love layering and stacking loads of vocals. All my songs are sad, I don’t know why. I’m quite happy actually, but all my songs are sad. 

Where do you make music? 

In my bedroom. I feel like where you’re comfortable is where you write the most meaningful shit.  

Listen to the Amazon Music Breakthrough UK: Artists To Watch 2024 playlist here:

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