SHARES NEW SINGLE ‘SILHOUETTE’
TAKEN FROM UPCOMING ‘ One + One ’’ EP
COMING NOVEMBER 16TH ON MINISTRY OF SOUND
SUPPORTING JESS GLYNNE
NOVEMBER 18 ARENA TOUR
20-year-old vocalist, musician and songwriter Moss Kena today shares his new single ‘Silhouette’. Taken from his upcoming second EP, the track was produced by Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Sampha, King Krule). The ‘One + One’ EP will be available to buy and stream on November 16th via Ministry of Sound.
‘Silhouette’ is, in Moss’ own words, “about breaking out of an intense relationship, stepping into the light of new possibilities and casting a shadow over the past.” Lead by characteristically strong vocal melodies, the single is a chilled blend of pads, beats and haunting guitars, a future pop intro to the eclectic production present on his second major release. Elsewhere on the EP we see Kena dive into the electronic vibes with ‘Touch’ followed by an R&B after hours banger on ‘Back Again’, the electro tinged ‘Ain’t The Same’,(Produced by Toddla T) and the 90’s inspired soulful slow jam EP closer ‘Better Off Without My Love’ all stamped with his unmistakable vocals and sharp lyrics. The EP is available to pre-order/pre-save today.
Since igniting his career with a zeitgeist-capturing cover of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘These Walls’, Kena has received major co-signs from every corner of the industry, from Zane Lowe and Elton John to Kendrick himself. Recently achieving a main playlist addition to Radio 1 for his debut EP lead single ‘Square One’, Kena has also received major accolades for his cover of Ella Mai’s ‘Boo’d Up’ recorded in session with DJ Target, plus support from Annie Mac and Mistajam. Following the release of his debut EP ‘Found You In 06’, Moss Kena has evolved from an online curiosity to a contemporary post-pop posterboy amassing streams by their millions. Ahead of a UK tour in early 2019, Kena is performing a headline date a Camden Assembly on November 22nd.
Moss Kena Will Be Supporting Jess Glynne On The Following Dates:
15-Nov-18 Glasgow The SSE Hydro
17-Nov-18 Manchester Arena
18-Nov-18 Birmingham Genting Arena
20-Nov-18 London The O2
21-Nov-18 Brighton Centre
24-Nov-18 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
25-Nov-18 Leeds First Direct Arena
29-Nov-18 Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
30-Nov-18 Nottingham Motorpoint Arena
2-Dec-18 Bournemouth Windsor Hall, BIC
Moss Kena Biography
On his left-hand wrist, Moss Kena has a tattoo of Amy Winehouse. The first Amy song that Moss ever loved was Mr Magic. He found it aged 8 of his own accord, on the pre-Youtube portal The Daily Motion. ‘I’d trawl through every day before school,’ he says. ‘Suddenly there she was.’ He was inked ten years later on a family holiday in Cornwall, aged 18. One day soon, his prematurely deceased heroine will be joined on the artist’s right wrist by Elvis Presley. On a day-to-day basis Moss likes to be reminded of greatness. ‘I try to connect with artists now, I really do,’ he says, ‘even the biggest artists on the planet, but what I want above everything else in music is to believe it.’ Hence Amy, hence Elvis.
Moss Kena is a self-starter of the highest and most formidable distinction. In the spring of 2016 he dropped an exquisite, intriguing cover of Kendrick Lamar’s These Wallsonto Soundcloud. The then teenager had stripped the certified hip-hop banger back and found the melodious core of To Pimp A Butterfly, flipping it out into a ballad with no determinate gender, creed or historical timeframe. He’d located the Minneapolis in the song. Prince is another Moss touchstone. ‘‘I love everything about him as a person, the way his hyper-femininity almost made him hyper-masculine. That’s the best thing about being the way he was. You just are.’
As anonymous calling cards go, his render sounded of a new pedigree: audacious, thrilling, fresh. This touch of pure class gathered the attentive plaudits of Zane Lowe, Elton John and Kendrick himself. Most importantly for Moss, it was believable. He meant the first song he’d sent out into the ether. He intends to carry on his musical life in precisely this vein.
The lifespan of These Walls is a useful arbiter for the distinct nature of Moss’s talent. ‘It was racking up so many plays,’ he says, still slightly startled by its viral trajectory. ‘For someone who’d never put anything out I was so gassed. Blogs were talking about it and all of a sudden it was played on Radio One.’ It wasn’t so much what happened to the track as how it happened. ‘It did its thing organically. No PR, no nothing. Then the craziest thing happened.’ Kendrick himself heard it. They met first in LA, then London. ‘I don’t think,’ he says, ‘I was at all what he was expecting.’
For one, Moss was male. From an early age – and with no small irony given what would happen later – Moss had learned to hate the way he sounded. ‘It’s probably what got me the most stick at school,’ he says. The most immediately arresting note of the singer’s clear vocal identity is its androgyny. ‘It’s a big wall to conquer. I was bullied for it. I really had to get over that feeling of “this is horrible.” Every time you open your mouth you’re self-conscious about what people are thinking about the way you sound? Awful.’
Moss was brought up in a family steeped in music. He is the second child of four. His dad was a DJ with all the associative lifestyle ephemera that entailed. His mum managed a string of record shops, including an establishment on Dean Street, R&D in Rayner’s Lane and a stall at Wembley Market.As the millennium rolled round, they gave up their music lives to raise the family in suburbia. Sometimes Moss envies his parents their generation’s defining music, found on illicit, often illegal dancefloors. ‘I feel like we’ve been completely denied that sense of musical discovery or experience. I feel like they were blessed in that context.’
When their second child began getting bullied at school, Moss’s mum took him as a treat to see the stage production of Billy Elliot. The story touched him personally. ‘That was basically the position I was in at school.’ An internal lightbulb went on. ‘Where I was enjoying being creative, dancing and stuff like that, no-one else connected with me on it. All the other boys were not interested.’ After getting back home and searching through the programme, Moss found a name for the children’s casting director and decided to correspond. ‘It would’ve been this eight-year-old, grammatically terrible email from a boy coming through but she sent one back saying there were open auditions in two weeks, bring your mum.’ At his first ever audition, Moss was cast in a West End production. When Elton John singled Moss out for special attention on his Beats One show, the irony was not lost on the artist. ‘It’s weird how it’s come full circle.’
Without an agent or manager, with no stage school training, Moss was cast in the West End production. He played the kid who gets punched at the Royal Ballet when Billy auditions. His Billy Elliotwas current Spiderman, Tom Holland. Billy Elliottook him right up to his teens. He put his money away, to save up to go to stage school at Barbara Speake, just like his hero, Amy had done at Sylvia Young’s. When he got there, exactly like Amy, he hated it. ‘Billy Elliot wasn’t all jazz hands shit. It was gritty. It meant something.’
He dropped out and gigged relentlessly, anywhere that would hear his unique voice. ‘I was turning up in coffee shops, shopping centres, crashing anywhere that would let me sing. It was the hardest thing at that age. I’d be in my local shopping centre singing and see someone I knew and get that sick feeling, like you want the ground to open up and swallow you, that angst, embarrassment. I couldn’t think of anything worse, I was so shy. But I managed to get over it.’
As he builds the armour that will constitute the life of his debut LP, the life of Moss Kena has moved at lightning pace. His razor-sharp sense of personal style is not the only button that he presses as a primary future hope for the British music industry. Moss Kena is unusually generation positive. ‘We are so lucky,’ he says, about the access his generation have to every style of music.
On a broader scale, he feels that they are defining their own rules when it comes to issues of sexuality and gender. Blessed with such an androgynous singing instrument and blighted for it so young, he has had to ask himself the difficult questions young. ‘It was like life used to be a soap opera with set characters and you had to grow up to be a certain one of them,’ he says. ‘It’s such bullshit. You can do what you want to do, be who you want to be.’
In life, as in art. As he releases his astral-bound debut EP, Moss Kena has high hopes for a future musical world that can stop looking to capture markets and start looking to capture their moment, in exactly the way his great heroes did. On the lead track Square One he delivers a je ne regrette rien opus to living with your past architecturally structured solidly around a two-note bass figure which haunts the tune to its end. From his masterful song-writing and delivery across his strange and beguiling infusion of truthful soul on the rest of the suite, magic is clearly at play. Moss Kena sounds like that rarest of beasts: a hitmaker with meaning.
He may just be the beginning of a generation that is post-snowflake, for want of a better term. ‘I feel like there’s a bunch of young people who are ready to be part of a movement again,’ he says, ‘to have a culture that we can call our own to match the ideology we have as our own. We are ready for a Bowie, a Punk, a house music that captures the feeling of our moment in time. There is so much to react against and so much to stand up for. We can all see what the youth stand for, our points of view, but I feel like nobody has been the emblem of that’.
Who is that person who will capture the new mood of youth?
‘I hope… you know, I hope that it’s me.’
It is not lost on Moss that both his great heroes, the tattoos he chose to look at each day are of artists who met a premature, tragic end. What is his insurance policy against that fate? ‘I feel like we live in different times,’ he bounces back. ‘We don’t just know what Amy and Elvis did now, we know why they did it. Our understanding of mental health is so much better than at any time in history. We, as a generation talk about stuff that people used to laugh at. Not anymore. Everyone realises that it’s not funny, it’s an illness and once you see that it helps. Even the royal family are understanding this now. That’s amazing.’ Why isn’t there a musical emblem of all this generational talk yet? ‘There might be,’ says Moss Kena. Mr Magic is ready for his close-up.