Kenny Hughes Interview with Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views
PD: How would you describe yourself as an artist?
KH: Well first and foremost, I’m a Blues man, but I incorporate elements of funk and rock ‘n roll in my music as well. It’s difficult to boil it down to one genre and the same song can sound completely different from one show to the next.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
KH: I was born in Johannesburg, but my family moved around quite a bit throughout my childhood and even in to adulthood. So I’m from all over South Africa. I’m fortunate in that my parents are avid music lovers. I grew up with the likes of CCR, Clapton and one of my personal favourites, Dire Straits. So I started off on the drums when I was 9 years old, but I quickly realised that it looked like guitarists had more fun. So when I was around 12 years old, I finally picked up the guitar and that was it for me.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
KH: As for the who it comes down to Dire Straits. At least initially. Guitar driven music is my bread and butter, therefore I absolutely love Knopfler. However, I also appreciate a song written with lyrical significance. Lyrics are really important to me and I feel like every song is an opportunity to convey some sort of message. Again I believe Knopfler to be a great example of that. I try to write about myself in an indirect way, drawing from my life experiences. Every song I’ve written so far tells some story about who and what I am.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
KH: My ultimate dream is to travel the world from festival to festival. Seeing the world while sharing my music with like-minded people would be the epitomy of success in my opinion.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
KH: It would have to be in 2019, I played at STRAB, the Sub-Terranean Rhythm and Blues festival in Ponta Malongane Mozambique. I played on a deck, meant to hold 80, with 120 people sitting, cross legged, at my feet and listening to the songs I wrote. Absolutely surreal experience.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
I KH: t’s tough, to be honest. But everyone told me it would be. You don’t become a musician because it’s easy, you become a musician because you feel like you have to. It’s your obligation to reveal this side of yourself scratching to be set free. It’s all I want to do, so it doesn’t matter how tough it gets.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
KH: At this stage, as an up and comer, I equate it to “cold-calling”, ironic really, I never thought my days as an insurance broker would assist my musical career. After a while, you build up a network of places you’ve performed already, then it’s much easier to book the next gig. In terms of promotion, I have an incredible PR consultant, Devo Oosthuizen. He’s really helped me out a lot!
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
KH: I can understand how online downloads would negatively affect an established band, but for someone like myself there is no such thing as bad exposure. As long as people are listening to my tunes, I really can’t complain.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
KH: I’ve always loved “All Along The Watchtower”, it has all the elements I’m looking for in a great tune. Good lyrics, open to interpretation and of course a lot of space for the guitar to do the singing.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
KH: I’ve noticed that some artists aren’t too keen on sharing their contacts in the industry. It’s sad to me as we’re all in the same boat, a little help goes a long way. A lot of the guys seem to think it’s a competition. I’ve always believed there’s enough space in the industry for everyone, especially considering everyone has their own unique flavour.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
KH: I’m always thinking about the next song and the next recording. Coupled with that I’m always thinking about the next tour and the next festival. I’m fortunate enough to have been booked for STRAB again this year. Last time I played solo, this time I’ll be jamming as a 3 piece Blues Trio. I’m really looking forward to it. I know it’s going to be amazing.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
KH: All Links https://linktr.ee/kennyhughes
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