NewTracks New Artist: Kennedy

NewTracks New Artist: Kennedy

Kennedy Jane Ihaka stems from Kaitaia originally but has been calling Wellington home for nigh on two decades. Her catchy debut single, the positive and adventurous On The Run was featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this December. We managed to catch up with the singer before the country shuts down for summer to find out a little more about her.

What other projects might we know you from?

I was part of a collaboration with Dutch DJ Joey Dale and an up and coming producer Anthony Dircson, the song is called Taking Me Home – it never quite made it to mainstream shores here but got a fair bit of traction on some EDM blogs in the Netherlands.

What’s the background story of how Kennedy came to be as a project?

I’ve always wanted to pursue music, it just took me a wee while to get the guts to give it all a go but I started posting some of my original songs to social media and that’s where my now manager Jarrod Alexander found me and things started kicking off.

How did your music evolve from your beginnings in songwriting to what it is right now?

When I first started songwriting, it was very early Taylor Swift inspired with absolutely zero personal experience in there. I began writing when I was 11 so I had no real-life experience to turn into lyrics – I have pages and pages of terrible songs. But as I got older I realised the songs that spoke to me and made me feel emotions, had lyrics that were real, raw and relatable. I began to put more of my heart into my music, I took personal experiences and put them on paper. I find that the more honest and real my lyrics are, the more people tend to relate and enjoy my songs.

What makes On The Run stand out for you as a single?

For me, On The Run stands out as a single because it’s got such a clear message with a happy, empowering feel to it. I wrote the song after a pretty poignant moment in my life, I’d just finished my second year at uni and had travelled overseas where I fell ill. I was later diagnosed with a one in a million autoimmune syndrome which made me realise we have this one life, and we want to spend it doing things we love. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from making choices that take you towards those dreams and there are no boundaries to prevent us from achieving those dreams.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

So far my favourite moment would be on the evening of the song’s release it was played on The Hits radio station, I had all my friends around at my house celebrating and we were waiting to hear a wee interview followed by the single. As soon as the interview wrapped up we were all in my living room dancing and singing to my song playing on the radio which felt surreal.

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? 

I wrote all the lyrics to on the run back in 2016 and got together with a friend Levi Stringer who I met in high school to record it in his parent’s house. Levi did absolutely all the production, together we decided what worked and didn’t work but overall he was the master behind the song’s overall beat and vibe – he’s phenomenal! We had to make a wee makeshift studio and soundproofed everything using mattresses and blankets which was hilarious because we blocked the only door to the room and his mum had to bring us an extra pillow or two through the outside window.

Describe in one sentence what you want listeners to take away from this song.

I want listeners to hear On The Run and just like I did when I got sick, have an epiphany that whatever it is you want to do – set your mind to it, realise that there’s nothing stopping you and run towards it full force.

In general, how do you work out what song would make a good single?

What makes a good single is hearing it for the first time and getting a lyric, phrase or a melody stuck in your head – and when the songs over, you want to hear it again.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for, with this band or others?

I’m currently recording and getting ready to release my first EP – I’m beyond excited to share more of my stories and experiences with everyone through these upcoming songs – I’ll be working with Levi over the summer to get everything finished and if you’re a fan of On the Run I can’t wait for you to hear the rest.

Can you please tell us three other local tunes that should be on a playlist alongside your song.

Three local tunes that should be in a playlist alongside my song are, Old News by Mitch James, Toto – by Drax Project and Peach by Broods – they all have super empowering and almost anthem-like vibes to them.

How many of your previous applications didn’t get funding or didn’t get included on NewTracks? Got any advice for people out there?

This is my first single. We didn’t get funding but I’m happy to be considered for New Tacks

How can we find you on social media?

You can find me on Instagram @kennedyihaka and on Facebook @kennedymusicnz

Any last words?

Just thank you for considering me and I’m really excited for everyone to hear my new single On The Run.