In a market oversaturated with bubblegum pop-like radio princesses, and here for the moment R&B acts — a rose is emerging from gritty Toronto pavement making herself visible.
Kennedy Rd. continues to pen both her rousing escapades and empathic pain, showcasing refreshing musical vulnerability. And as the world becomes further acquainted with the soulful newcomer, impressive streams amass propelling her breathy tone and love letters towards esteemed stations. Most recently, she detailed the relatable relationship scenario of a man challenging a woman’s intelligence alongside fellow Torontonian, 11:11.
Still, as the emcee attempts to reassure Kennedy Rd. on “You Know I Know” the trust issues are tunefully blatant. There is obviously plenty more to press play on because her niche for memorable choruses is consistent. Beyond her promising songwriting, her girl-next-door allure enticed us to follow along on singles, “Day and Nite,” and “Take Away.”
The Knockturnal raced down the Canadian Highway 7 to merge on the back street that changed it all for the rising star. And, Kennedy Rd. sat with a bright smile and curly crown in her makeup chair prepared to shine. Check out what the songstress shared between photoshoot poses about her upcoming EP Feelings Cafe, battling misogyny, preserving her artistry’s authenticity, and more.
You’re named after a street in Toronto called Kennedy Road. What is your fondest memory of it?
Well, to get deep with it, my uncle who passed away lived on Kennedy Road. We spent a lot of time there on Kennedy Road. He is honestly the greatest man I’ve ever known. He was also buried on Kennedy Road. Anytime I want to get away or sort through my thoughts, I go there.
You’ve highlighted enjoying ‘90s R&B and your sound echoes that. Who are your favorite artists and influences?
I would definitely have to say Destiny’s Child, the early Destiny’s Child music. I listened to Aaliyah and Sade, too. You have to mention Janet, I love Janet [Jackson] so much. Then the music changed a bit in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. You know? Then there was Ashanti and Nivea.
In a prior interview, you acknowledged how prominent figures within the Toronto music scene deemed women as “only good to sleep with”. How did you overcome that narrative?
I think it is a constant uphill battle. It is not something that necessarily goes away. It took me going to LA and collaborating with people that seem to be a little more serious about music. Also, I was able to find good people out here [in Toronto] who did the same.
Before I moved to LA I spent a lot of time in the studio materializing. I was taught by my female manager plenty about the business. And, it is really about the tone women set. [Women can’t] be afraid to be considered a bitch. You want to make sure that you are getting what you want.
We need to make sure what we want is being accomplished. It is easy to always get the runaround. [Sometimes with industry executives] doing something for you, they’ll expect something from you [in return], especially as a woman. So, I am learning how to really stand my ground. I’ve gained my respect in that regard.
Your first live show is going to be in Toronto, what can fans anticipate?
I am going to do my first show on my birthday! It will take place the 28th. Also, that will be all around the time I am releasing my EP. I’ve been waiting for this all year long.
That EP is going to be calling Feelings Cafe. How in your feelings are you going to be on that EP?
[Laughs] I mean I would have released it already. I’ve been learning to connect with my emotions and put them into the songs. So, as the year progressed, I became deeper involved.
I’m more in tune with my feelings. Which is why I wanted to release it [under that title]. So, it is definitely going to an EP be full of feelings. And, this is the first of many.
How do you feel after the viral success of your single, “Day and Nite”?
I feel really good. You put your music out and you don’t know how people are going to receive it. This is a song where you can see I am different. There are not a lot of people who are making music that sounds like mine right now.
So, I really did not know how people were going to react. To see that single was the most successful thus far, I am really excited about “Day and Nite”. And, it really just encourages me to continue to be authentic. That sound [only] comes from me being myself… rather than listening to what everyone else is doing.
How was it collaborating in the studio with 11:11 on your latest record, “You Know I Know”?
That was actually a really great time. I was anticipating this collaboration. Some of the people I had been working with were also working with 11:11, in LA. So, he came by the studio.
We both played music for each other and decided to collaborate. We started the beat from scratch. And, it was a nice experience. What the song is about, is what I am actually going through. We talked about it there in the studio.
11:11 was like, “Let’s channel these emotions”. That is exactly what we decided to do. It is a true story. It was awesome to work with 11:11, and bring that to life. The song is truly about what I was dealing with at the time. It was a really good vibe.
What do you want your listeners to know about you?
I am just a girl from Toronto. I am just normal, you know? I’m not flashy. I just love music. The most important thing to me is [creating music that can] speak for itself. The creativity is essential.
The actual writing just has to be authentic. That is what is important to me. And, also, when it comes to creating… I really try to focus on what influences me— ‘90s R&B! I think about the way that sound made me feel as a child. That is really what I am trying to convey to other people.
What is to come following the release of your Feelings Cafe EP?
Right now, other than Feelings Cafe… I will be shooting some videos for the EP. Coming closer to this release, I do want to be touring a bit. I’ve come into contact with quite a few other artists. We’ve talked about doing collaborations and gearing up to have people on my debut album.
I really want to be performing. I want to connect with the audience. It is one thing to be in the studio recording, but it is another to feed off the energy of your fans. So, coming into the new year, that is my priority. I am incorporating performances.