Los Angeles native Kenyon Dixon is an up-and-coming artist who has done A LOT for just being 27-years-old. The singer, vocal arranger and producer has been on the music scene for years composing and writing critically acclaimed songs for artists such as Tyrese, Faith Evans and Chrisette Michelle. He has travelled the road doing back-up vocals for Justin Timberlake, Nick Jonas, Mac Miller, John Legend, Usher and many more. And it doesn’t end there! The 2x Grammy nominated songwriter has been writing and producing music for his personal projects. His first EP Twenty Four was released in 2014, and today (just three years later) he shares his 6th self-written and co-produced project We Should Talk.
We got a chance to chat with Kenyon about his ongoing journey and plans for the future. Get to know this multi-talented artist in his own words as he makes his way to the front of the stage:
When did you first discover your voice and talent for writing?
I come from a musical family so it has always been present. My mom, pops, siblings…they all sing. I actually wasn’t interested in singing at all until my junior/senior year in high school. I think it may have been because I was around it so much growing up. I wanted to do something different. I thought I was going to be a rapper or something. My friends and I used to write rhymes in middle school and get together at lunch and spit them. So I guess I’ve been writing for a while (technically).
Have you always wanted to be an artist? or did you have other talents/passions that you wanted to focus on growing up?
Growing up, I did everything but music! I played sports for a second and then I ended up dancing professionally for most of my childhood through my teenage years. I was always interested in the arts or something entertainment based; not just singing. I most definitely thought I would become a rapper though, that was really the only thing I was sold on.
How long have you been working as a backing vocalist and composing/writing for other artists?
I started gigging as a BGV around my senior year in high school. That’s when I decided I would finally go ahead and actually put some effort into singing. As far as writing, I had been working with a lot of local artists for a while, but I think I got my first placement with a major artist around 2011.
What’s the biggest difference between writing for other artists and writing for yourself?
Expectation. I’ve learned that when you’re writing for other artists, more or less may be required than what you require for your own material. There’s more to take into consideration when writing for other artists because you have to write based on what makes sense for them, their team, their market, their image…everything imaginable. When you’re writing for yourself, you have a little more freedom. However, you have to have an amazing gauge of what works for you because we write so many records as writers and as incredible as they may be, that doesn’t make them great records for US. Sometimes we have to give up records we really like just because we know they’d do and be better on another artist.
You’ve done back-up vocals for Nick Jonas, Usher, Beyonce, Tyrese, Kelly Rowland, John Legend, Pharrell and more. What have you learned about yourself by working with all these artists?
I’ve seen a lot of hard work and dedication to say the least. I’ve worked with some of these artists who walk in to rehearse when we do and leave when we leave. They put in the same amount of work as anyone else they’ve hired and I think that’s why they’ve achieved the success they have. So for me, I’ve learned that no matter how successful you become, there’s always more to learn and more to be done. Don’t ever stop working.
Are there any other artists you would like to work with?
I’m still a big Drake fan man. He’s like the one person I haven’t worked with that I’m like ‘Yo! I gotta work with him.’ When I listen to his music and lyrics, I can kinda see the creative process and it feels similar to how I work myself. So I just think we could make some really dope records.
Is there one memorable experience while working with another artist that sticks out in your mind?
I think the most memorable moment to date is October 4th 2016! I had just got off stage with Justin Timberlake in London to a text saying that my girl was going into labor (which I wasn’t expecting until I got back). After we figured out I would still make it back in time (and I calmed down), JT pulled me aside and gave me the dad talk and every single heads up he could about what I was getting ready to get into; becoming a father. A few hours after I landed and walked into the hospital, my daughter was born. So straight from London to fatherhood lol wild! I’ve got mad love for JT and the camp forever for really being like family out there on the road; especially that night. Can’t wait until she’s old enough to hear this story.
You’re a 2x Grammy nominated songwriter. How did you feel when you first learned of the nomination? How do you think the achievement helped you move forward with your craft?
If I can be completely honest for a moment, I really don’t even think about it much. It’s an amazing accomplishment and I thank God that I was able to experience something so dope so early on, but I’ve seen how easy it is to get caught up in the hype. I still believe you’re only as good as your last game, and in an industry that’s ever-progressing that means you gotta keep working if you want to keep up. It for sure puts you on a lot of people’s radars and garners respect, but if you’re brought into a session to deliver that kind of work again and you can’t, it’s just a memory. I say all of that to say, if anything, I’ve been more grateful to still have the capability to create great records. I think that’s the blessing in it all.
Do you have any words of advice for other singers/writers who are trying to make a name for themselves and move to the front of the stage?
Knowledge REALLY IS power. Study your craft. You’ll keep from making a lot of mistakes that are just stigmas tied to it. Other than that, go for it! Make yourself uncomfortable. I had to learn that you can’t always wait for someone to come along who believes in you enough to convince you of what you should be doing. Be that person for yourself. Don’t ever let anyone out ‘believe in you’ YOU! But keep in mind that God has a lot of children…so you might have to wait your turn Lol It doesn’t happen overnight. Whatever you put into it though, you will get out eventually.
What accomplishment of yours are you most proud of today?
Aforementioned but man…becoming a father is an unexplainable feeling. You can have all of the expectations in the world and somehow it still surpasses them all and makes you realize you never really even knew what to expect in the first place. It’s switches up your drive creatively too…like crazy…because if you’re home writing/recording, you know you have about 30 mins to get it all out before the baby wakes up and starts living life.
What’s your message to your fans? What do you want people to hear and feel when they listen to your music?
With my music, I always say that it’s less of a sound and more of a feeling. I believe classic records are deemed classics because of what people FEEL when they hear them; they’re an experience and in a world full of opinions about the quality of music depreciating, I just want everybody to know good music is still out there and it speaks for itself. You have to have records to play in the club and records to ride to…radio records and just all kind of records, but 20 years from now when those WAVES are gone (because you’ll still need those types of records but the sonics will have progressed dramatically), my goal is for you to still remember my songs and be able to play them because they made and still make you feel a way.
Your 6th self-written and co-produced project is titled ‘We Should Talk’. What are you talking about on this project?
First, I can’t even believe that I’ve made that much music…that’s wild. _We Should Talk_is just a relationship album, man. Different aspects of the relationship. Some things we talk about and some things we only think about and would never say out loud–until now. I just wanted to make sure it was relatable and REAL while still projecting my sound and my vibe that my listeners love. One of my fans told me one day that one of the reasons they like my music is because I give this male perspective on vulnerability without it being corny. For some reason, that stuck with me and has kind of been a constant them in my music. So I for sure explored that some more.
What are some of your goals as an artist and where do you see yourself in the future?
I just want to continue to make great, timeless music. Whatever goals I’m even entertaining, I hope that I work hard enough to realize that I’ve been shooting too low this whole time and pass them joints up by a long shot. Great music is always the goal though. Trying to take it to the world.
Follow Kenyon Dixon, on your favorite social networks:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kennygotsoul
Twitter – https://twitter.com/kennygotsoul
Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/kenyondixonmusic
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