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Interview: KENN is still happy, and still pretty

KENN is still happy now that his newest EP, We Killed KENN, it out on iTunes, Amazon and [[KennJams]]. The six-track set is bright, brash and morbidly coquettish to boot. He may have taken the time to get engaged and live his privacy, but he still eager to bring out the music and question those who are comfortably following social expectative.

Kenn making We Killed KENN
Kenn making We Killed KENN
KennJams/Andi Hedrick

KENN, whose "Still Pretty'' made the list of the 30 best songs of 2013 you have probably not heard, previously stated that the track "is an interesting story. I heard all these over sexualized songs by female artist like "S&M" by Rihanna or "If You Seek Amy" by Britney Spears and I thought it would be interesting to hear a male voice singing the same sort of song and see the reaction. I like challenging gender roles. So that was the starting point. Think of it a s a really gay answer to Shania Twain's "Any Man of Mine" two decades later."

The out singer-songwriter is making a point about gender ideals in society, but how does his sexual orientation inspire his work?

"My homosexuality really only comes into play when I am writing and producing my songs. It's just another attribute of mine that seeps it's way into the music I write. I like to think that my queerness has and will have no impact as I move though my music career."

KENN takes his work seriously but that does not mean he is not having fun. His imagery is bright, vibrant and in your face. The cover image of the EP is serious but mainstream, think Terry Richardson. With images showcasing his chest tattoo, being a sexy horse, and telling the masses to get over homosexuality, KENN is always ready for a message. He says "as far as my photography goes, I work almost exclusively with Andi Hedrick. I pretty much decided on a direction and concept for the album and then start developing cover ideas with Andi.”

Being an independent and self-promoting artist these days has its ups and downs. The internet is at one’s disposal, but does releasing digitally make it easier for those making it on their own?

“I personally love this new digital age of music. It's the best thing that ever happened to the indie artist. Now musicians have abilities to crowd fund, distribute to all major digital stores or even independently distribute. And the social networking tools available now allow musicians to market their music worldwide without a label. The only downside is that now these tools are at everyone's fingertips and thus more competition in getting noticed.”

Now that the EP is out, what is next for KENN?

“As far as my musical goal, I have a lot of different projects I want to try at some point but frankly all I really want is to eventually get to the point where I can simply live off making music.”

More interviews: Mary Lambert, SATURN, Stephen Dittmer, Stephan Nance, Mark David Gerson, Eric Himan, Kevin J Thornton, Sammy Crawford, John Carrasco, YogaBear, Bryan Nevin with Christopher Van Etten.

Read more about KENN:

Full name: Kenneth Cifuentes

Nickname: Kenny

Height: 6 feet 3 inches

Zodiac sign: Scorpio (specifically the Scorpio-Sagittarius Cusp for those who care)

Tattoos: I have several tattoos including a replication of my heart on the center of my chest plate and banner with the Oscar Wilde quote, “A true friend stabs you in the front.”

Piercings: Yes. I have pierced nipples and …

Favorite color: Olive Green or Midnight Blue. I can’t decide.

If you were not human, you would be: I would be a pair of David Bowie’s tight polyester pants circa the “Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” tour..

Person responsible for driving you into music: My piano teachers growing up, Margaret Sargent and George Widiger, recognized my propensity for writing music early on and were instrumental in helping me develop the skills required.

Best thing about being a performer: That moment when someone tells me they went through the same things I wrote about in a song or that a song of mine helped them through a rough situation. After all, music is just another platform in which we can all communicate and relate with each other.

Hardest thing about being a performer: The logistics of scheduling and organizing involved. But even more than that, deciding how to approach a project. I have a very eclectic taste in music and that can make it hard to know how to approach a song (buzzing synths or steel guitars?).

Which one of your projects identifies you best today: Every project I embark on has a little part of me in it and I make an effort to expose another side of me each time. I mean, you’re looking at a twenty-six sided dice here.

Sum up yourself in ONE word: Thankful

Recent releases: Sam Sparro, VV Brown, Austra, Vanessa Carlton, CocoRosie, Julieta Venegas, Laura Pausini

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