Canadian-American Kennedy One is a multi-instrumentalist that creates what he defines loosely as “cinematic electronic music”. While new to the artist scene, Kennedy has been ghost writing and producing production music for years and now has released his debut LP Metropolis. Kennedy came up with the idea for Metropolis while in Tokyo, inspired by Sophia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation. The glitched cover of the Park Hyatt Tokyo (made famous by the film) pays homage to that.
“Metropolis tackles the challenges of pushing yourself towards something new, capturing the waves of loneliness and euphoria that often accompany such endeavours. I feel the same way about Tokyo. Despite the sensory overload, the city can at times feel quite isolating.”
This seven track album is a truly gem of emotional cinematic electronic music. It constantly lifts and builds with orchestral moments, opening with emotive downtempo Ocean of Mine, moving to progressive / tech house and concluding with the ambient and haunting Epilogue.
With such an album, I sent a few questions Kennedy’s way to get to know more about Metropolis, what inspired those sounds, as well as his particular approach and more…
Hello Neil, Metropolis, your debut album has just been released. You have an extensive career in music by writing and recording songs as a ghostwriter. In which moment and what made you think to start your own artistic career?
Being behind the scenes, I wasn’t pushing myself enough creatively. I had this introspective moment in Tokyo a few years ago when I realized I needed to elevate my risk profile and expectations. And in order to do so I needed to put myself out there in a less anonymous way. And that naturally forced me to be much more critical about what I was creating.
What can you share with us about the overall concept behind Metropolis?
Metropolis is about taking a journey to something new. A journey that has many challenges. And the tracks are meant to reflect the ups and downs of such an endeavor. I envisioned this being set in a large city in the far distant future. Yet despite significant advancements in many regards, this future society had regressed on a more personal level. While surrounded by so many people, we were more isolated and alone. So the album tackles taking on these challenges in a fairly solitary way.
Tell us about your early influences and general background.
I started playing piano at around eight years old. While I hated piano lessons, it gave me an early appreciation for music structure and composition. I also played the saxaphone in the school band before moving on to guitar. Growing up, I had a diverse range of influences, everything from guitar shredders such as Joe Satriani to electronic music from Kraftwerk and Vangelis. But almost all the music I listened to was instrumental. I don’t really know why, but that affinity continues today. My first synth was a Juno 106 and my dad had some two track reel-to-reel machines that my brother and I spent hours recording nonsense with a four channel mixer from Radio Shack. That eventually evolved in to more sophisticated recordings, and ultimately ghost producing cinematic music for other artists and production music libraries.
How is this reflected on this album?
You can definitely hear these earlier influences. All the music is instrumental and the tracks are meant to elicit a visual experience, even without the accompanying media. And similar to my own musical interests and influences, the overall genre on Metropolis drifts from cinematic downtempo to techno and finishes with the haunting and melancholic ‘Epilogue’. In addition, I am in the process of creating a limited run vinyl for the album that I expect to be released in August. For me there is something very warm and comforting about vinyl that I can likely attribute to my childhood, sitting in front of my family’s record player with headphones on.
Let us know how this new album was developed as a whole, and share with us the story behind Kennedy One’s pieces.
The first track that came together was ‘Dark City’. I was living in NYC at the time and had a small setup. But a great view of the skyline. It’s such a beautiful city to look at, but there’s this gritty and more sinister underbelly that is equally addicting. The rest of the ideas flowed from that. Many of the ideas didn’t go anywhere. And of the ideas I liked the most, I was starting to see a range of genres, to the point where I debated separating the tracks in two separate releases. At some point I said screw it, it’s my music and I’ll do what I want with it. Besides, music listeners these days have very broad and sophisticated interests that aren’t confined by genres. And there were a set of common themes that tied everything together to tell a more interesting musical narrative versus two disparate releases.
Getting into a more personal side, I think you are a big cinema fan as this album was inspired by Sophia Coppola’s 2003 film Lost in Translation. Is this right?
Yeah, I love a good movie. And Lost in Translation is definitely one of my top 10. I was actually staying in the Park Hyatt Tokyo (featured prominently in the film) when I came up with the concept for Metropolis and started noodling with ideas. Visuals can be so much more powerful with music.
Which activities outside of music do you also enjoy and what is Kennedy One’s regular day like?
My wife and I have three young kids, so the day usually starts with getting everyone up, fed and ready. I will typically try and save most creative activities for the morning or later in the evening. And lately I have been focussing on improving productivity by clustering non-creative tasks (e.g., social media) to certain times or days of the week. But the creative process is so unpredictable and I can’t just sit down for an hour and start writing. I need a few hours to get going with something and the only way to do that effectively is to dedicate uninterrupted blocks of time.
Finally, what would be the ideal place to listen to Metropolis?
Late at night, alone, with a good pair of headphones. I hope it takes you on an emotional and very personal journey.
//“Metropolis” by Kennedy One is out now and you can buy it here. //
More about Kennedy One here.
Say hi to Marco here