Interview: KennyHoopla on self-discovery and belonging

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

KennyHoopla isn’t trying to be a rockstar — for the up-and-comer, music is more than the bright lights and fancy accolades. Finding a home within music has not only given him an outlet to channel himself creatively but also a place where he can express his innermost thoughts.

Whenever people talk about the artist from Wisconsin, terms like ‘genre-defying’ usually follow. For Kenny however, he isn’t purposely overthinking it. “I’m not trying to defy anything,” he said. His intention with his newly released EP how will i rest in peace if i'm buried by a highway? // was to self-discover the type of artist that he wants to be — this open and experimental process then resulted in a body of work that finds itself at the intersection of an array of genres.

Despite the extremely positive response, he’s getting from the EP, Kenny isn’t exactly content with the body of work — internally, he feels as if he’s capable of more. “It wasn’t as good as it could have been because I was just kind of in a rush to put something out. I realized that I can’t force things out and I don’t write a lot. I’m kind of crazy in a way, that’s just who I am. I just don’t do things how everyone else does them and that’s okay.”

Believe it or not, music is only something he’s been doing for approximately three years. Before music, he said that he was obsessed with photography. Along with photography, he also painted and danced. In high school, he also enjoyed writing, though he admits that it wasn’t exactly poetry or any technical form. “I would write lines a lot,” he said.

Despite trying all these other creative outlets, something within him was still calling him to create music. At first, he was apprehensive because many others around him were also making music. “I always wanted to make music since I was a kid, before anything, but it got to a point to where I felt like I had to do something. I kind of kept running away from it all the time because so much people around me were doing it. I didn't want to add to the noise. I've always wanted to have meaning in my stuff.”

After spending time contemplating whether he should create music, at 20 years old he finally gave in. More importantly, he was able to release and process the emotions he had been building up for years. “I felt like I had a purpose and I had to do something valuable. Besides that, I just needed to get it out of me. Like whatever this ball of energy is. I guess even processing everything. It was just time for me to make music.”

Before he was making music formally, he would practice writing lyrics to other songs that he enjoyed. “I would write to songs that were already songs on the radio. When I was in my room, I spent a lot of time alone as a kid in my life and not being able to relate, I wasn't really like the average normal kid. So I was just in my room listening to music 24/7 and just hanging out and I'd be writing to the songs on the radio, just learning how to structure songs through that.”

Kenny notes that he hasn’t found his process yet  — in fact, he says that it has probably gotten even more chaotic since finishing the EP. “I haven’t found my process yet. I think that’s what I have been trying to do,” he said. During the past few months, he’s spent time trying to become a better musician, including learning guitar.

“I’m trying to get better at guitar right now and hone in on my musician shit, just learning how to produce and learning how to talk through the instruments. I’m trying to figure out how to do things on my own because I think that might help when I go into the studio with another producer again. I’ve been spending time figuring out what I want, or what I’m trying to get at. I’m trying to reiterate to myself what I stand for and what I want my music to stand for.”

With more music on the way, his fanbase continues to grow — many who find solace in Kenny’s words. He says that the feedback he gets from fans “means the world” to him, but it isn’t easy for him to be as vulnerable as he is in his music — his words aren’t a front or part of an aesthetic, the lyrics come from a deeper place.

“I am extremely vulnerable in my music and that's not the easiest thing to do. It's not something I'm very prideful of. I just think people take pride in saying dark stuff, to be honest, and that's not something that I really take pride in.”

If opening up about his fears and innermost emotions means he’s able to build a connection with others who might be feeling the same way, then the music is doing what it’s supposed to.

“I'm just trying to be honest and create a dialogue and have that energy given back,” also adding, “I want to have a community of people who feel that energy that I feel so I'm not alone, or feel like I'm not crazy or that I'm not a weirdo. All I have are my words and just to put myself out there and just not really care and be honest and to have people latch onto that and just not let me fall on myself is a beautiful thing. That's what I'm most grateful of, is that there's a connection there.”

When people press play, he hopes they’re able to be present and fully embrace whatever they’re feeling. “I hope they're able to live in the present and feel those feelings. I feel like it's hard for anybody to really live in the present and focus on the now. I would love for them to realize that this is happening.”

Written by Amy Smolcic 

Listen to how will i rest in peace if i'm buried by a highway? // below:

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