Pristine brings you an exclusive interview with Kennedy Thal, a very lovable and sincere young man; he is calm and collected and yet thinks very far with vision. A very interesting character if I may say.

Tell us about yourself, who is Kennedy Thal?

Well my name is Kennedy Thal. I am 22 years old, born to a Philadelphian father and a Motswana mother from Thamaga. I got two brothers and a sister. I just love making music. I am in all honesty unapologetically myself.

At what age did you start singing?

I started singing for my mother when I was six and at the age of nine, I started playing at piano recitals at my Grandmother’s church in Philadelphia. From then on, I would write my own music on the piano and later on branched into production when a friend introduced me to Fruity Loops.

What genre of music do you consider your music?

I’m very eclectic. I write a lot of Pop, R&B, house, Dance and Soul music however I play and sing a lot of Classical, Jazz and Blues on the piano.

Do you play any instruments?

I’m a pianist. I have been playing the piano since a young age and took lessons both here in Botswana and in Philadelphia.

Who are your major influences both locally and internationally?

There are quite a number of people who’ve influenced me over the years. Musicians such as Jay Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Maxwell, Lauryn Hill, Chrisette Michele, Little Jimmy Scott, Otis Redding and Erykah Badu to mention but a few. Locally I am most influenced by my close friends who are for the greater part, still underground.

Should we expect an album or single on the airwaves any time soon?

At the moment I can’t make any promises on putting any of my material on the radio however a lot of local and South African artists are keen on working with me so you might hear me featured on some commercial tracks soon. I’m currently working on a free mixtape which should be out sometime in April. Thing is I feel the need to promote myself and work on my following before I can even think of working on a debut record.

Who do you work with in your recordings?

At the moment I do almost everything myself. I write, produce, record, mix and edit all of my material. I have been working with a few producers though, especially Drako, who is based in Texas. He produces some of the beats that I work with.

What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?

Love is probably the most prominent theme in most of my songs. Love and all that it comes with; heartbreak, nostalgia, recovery, letting go, falling in love, infatuation, you name it. Other than that that I’d say life and its lessons.

Where have you performed? And which has been the most memorable and why?

I did my first big gig in 2001 when I entered the KTV talent show. That was the first push that got the ball rolling in terms of me being a performer and a stage artist.  This past year, I did the AFREXIM (Africa Imports and Exports Bank) Summit with the Ministry of Finance at the Grand Palm resort, I performed at the Miss Universe Botswana 2010 pageant at the GICC, I performed and received an award for “Living The Dream” at the My African Dream (MAD) Grand Finale at the GICC, I’ve performed at the St. Valentines Clothing Launch and Spring Line Fashion Show 2010. I’ve also done a few cabaret shows such as “My Funny Valentine” at the Gaborone Sun and “Shaken Not Stirred” at the Maitisong theatre both directed by Mandi Mash and I had my debut solo concert “Kennedy In Concert” which was the opening act for the 2010 Maitisong Festival. I’ve done several corporate functions for the likes of Alliance Francaise, Discovery and Sun International and I played at last year’s “Presidents Concert”. Honestly I can’t say I have a “most memorable” performance as of yet.

Do you have any upcoming shows?

Yes, I’m part of an upcoming cabaret show directed once again by the incredibly talented Mandi Mash. It’ll be showing at the Gabs Sun on the weekend before Valentines.

How often do you rehearse ,is it timetabled or one of those spontaneous things?

I rehearse very frequently, at least four times a week.  I don’t have a timetable as such, however when it comes to the shows I do, most of them have specific rehearsal dates and times.

What has been your greatest challenge as an upcoming artist so Far?

The greatest challenge is trying to remain inspired and driven, getting people to understand that this is not a hobby, it is what I intend on doing for the rest of my life you know. Sometimes you can worry about whether people take you seriously or not, but with time I’ve learnt to remain focused.

What is your ultimate direction, are you seeking fame or fortune in the industry?

You see if my music is to touch and inspire a lot of people and I be known for it then it would be termed fame right? All i want is to become an established recording artist whose music moves masses and if it comes down to fame then so be it .my dream is to one day  own a production house and recording label and help establish aspiring, talented musicians.  It has always been my passion to manage talent. A lot of artists are incredibly talented when it comes to their artistry however they lack the business-minded approach that this industry requires. It is very hard for some people to mix finance and passion. That is why someone like me is necessary; a realist with the ability to juggle passion and finance and keep them both safe, afloat and most importantly, productive.

 

How can fans gain access to your music?

I have recently started sharing my music online.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kennedythalexclusive

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kennedythal

Youtube: www.youtube.com/kennedythalexclusive

All my music is available online on the links above for free download. So are all the covers that I’ve done so far.

 

How has the social media been working out for you in terms of fan base?

The internet has been a great promotional tool for my music and I take it very seriously. I’ve met a lot of incredibly talented people through it from all across the world, some of which want to work with me this year. I’ve developed very strong alliances as well with artists, both signed and underground, and producers/publishing houses who I’ll be working with in the near future. Very soon I will be selling my music online on iTunes and through my website, www.kennedythal.com, which will be up and running before the end of 2011.

 

What are your future plans?

For now I would like to move to the United Sates to study Sound/Music Production and continue writing/producing music that will be eventually shortlisted for my first EP which will be released mid 2011. In addition, I’d like to find work as a songwriter. I’ve already approached several publishing house and they’re keen to work with me. I’d like to liaison with other artists from all over the world and develop a solid and secure network of like-minded musicians, producers and talent managers.

Is there someone you would like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?

I don’t want to mention names because I’d quite frankly take up your entire magazine. I think the people that support me unwaveringly know it and they will know I am talking about them when they read this. I appreciate them so much. More than any financial support anyone could ever give me.

 

It is our valentine issue, so just out of our reader’s curiosity, is there anyone special in your life?

Yes, there is someone very special in my life and that someone is my Valentine. For the sake of my and their privacy I will leave it at that.

 

Any last words?

I’d like to thank everyone who supports me, it keeps me going, please do keep supporting me and listen to my music online. To all aspiring musicians who need advice or help with anything music related, I would be more than happy to assist, follow me on twitter and add me on Facebook.  Oh one more thing, I am one of the, ongoing MY STAR, top 20 contestants do rally for me my people.  One love.

 Photographer: Brenan McKop  http://www.facebook.com/pages/BFM-Photography/171325806212195]

Editing: Kennedy Thal