Part two of our interview with Edmonton musician Kenya Kondo. In this installment, we talk about his most recent album and his future plans. One of Kenya’s songs, “Moses” can be heard here:.
Jenna: So, you released an album about six months ago, “Wait”. How have you been promoting that, and how have the receptions been to it?
Kondo: It’s been a lot of hard work. The big thing is to try and get shows. We released the album by showcasing it at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and that was really cool for us to get exposure – it adds credibility to the music we’re trying to put down. It was also a really great place for us to try and make connections with the music industry, with other bands and performers and venues. We’ve also been really lucky that places like CBC radio and a number of radio stations across the country – from Ontario, British Columbia, and here in Alberta – have been picking up some of the singles – “Moses” and “Welcome to My High” have been getting a lot of play. I think a big challenge for musicians is that there’s so many of us now, with the web everyone is able to make and put out music. How do you stand out? And I think it’s… consistency. I think if you believe in your art and your profession and you’re working hard at it, over time you develop a name and a reputation that people will gravitate towards. Right now, as a solo artist, it takes a while to build a name. When you go to a place like Utopia [Music Festival], and you get one fan, and they tell someone. Or they go to Facebook and they start listening to your music … it’s a case of building it one fan at a time… It’s been everything from Facebook to MySpace and YouTube to doing shows or getting coverage from press.
Jenna: So, it sounds like the internet is a big part of your marketing strategy.
Kondo: For any artist right now, it’s just the way that people communicate and share what they’re doing, especially creatively… I think with Facebook and Twitter, it makes it a lot easier to promote what you’re doing, but also a lot harder to stand out.
Jenna: You did say “Welcome to My High” was picked up by radio stations in Ontario and America, and then in one of your videos on your website, you said at the time you were working on getting it picked up in Alberta. I was just wondering if you think there’s a reason it was picked up in Ontario and the states before it was picked up in Alberta, or if that’s just the way it happened.
Kondo: I think literally it’s just the way it happened. I was working with a promoter who was based in Toronto, so one could be there were better connections with the radio stations in Ontario, maybe that helped. It could be the style of music as well… there is diversity and preference for music depending on the city, or province to province, country to country. I have no clear explanation why… I can only say that I’m grateful I’m getting coverage where I am, and I hope that continues… With the internet… whoever hears and likes your music and tells their friends… could be anywhere in the world. I’ve also been lucky – some of my instrumental tracks have been used in TV and indie movie projects, maybe that’s also another potential link point.
Jenna: So, have you done a tour?
Kondo: That’s what we’re trying to line up for the fall. September, we’re looking to go to Red Deer, Lethbridge, Banff, and Canmore. Sometime next year we’re looking to go down to the States… Fingers crossed, I’ll begin the next project next year… [As well] The big plan next year is to try and get into some festivals.
Jenna: So, a tour, maybe a new album, and some festivals all in the next year.
Kondo: I guess one other thing is there’s a Christmas single, and right now we’re trying to make the decision whether to release it or not.
– Jenna Marynowski