KennyHoopla – whose real name is Kenneth La’Ron – was one of those rare artist interviews. From only what I’ve seen and read on the internet, it is easy to think you know everything about the person you’re about to interview. However in the short 15 minute phone call to the U.S., I learnt more about the creative Kenny is, than an Instagram post could ever tell me. Although he only began writing music just three years ago, the DIY artist has garnered a steady fan base thanks to his debut EP, ‘how will i rest in peace if i’m buried by a highway?//’. His journey begun after meeting a group of artists on Sound Cloud and following a jam session in a friend’s hotel room with a cheap microphone and a backing track, the rest is now considered history.
The collision of alternate sounds, rap sensibilities and obscure lyricism is what has thrust the artist into the big leagues of music – after all, his stage name is inspired by SpongeBob. And before he explodes into soundwaves everywhere, ICON sat down to talk with up-and-commer on creativity and vulnerability.
ICON: Firstly, for those who may not know you, can you describe how you became interested in music?
KennyHoopla: “I’ve been obsessed with music my whole life and I think I just got into a situation where I was physically able to have the tools to make music and it just felt like it was time for me to do it.”
Where does the stage name KennyHoopla come from?
KH: “That was from a Sponge Bob episode. I just thought it was so funny and an internet presence. I was in high school and was brought up on the internet. But I don’t know why I picked that and how it came about but I remember when I first said it, I thought, that sounds not good to the ear but I was going to keep rolling with it until it sounded normal and now here we are.”
In a past interview you reflected on your childhood and quote, “fucked up things were happening”. What did you learn from those experiences which has helped you now?
KH: “I see things from all perspectives. I want to say, to not get attached to everything and everything is temporary. But also at the same time I feel like you’re still supposed to learn from everything. When you go through something, they are more lessons than losses. Make sure that at the end of the day they settle in your heart as more of a lesson instead of a loss.”
You’ve always been creative but what was the catalyst moment for you to make music a career?
KH: “I kind of wanted to do everything and I wanted to make art and whatever that meant and what art was and the feeling that it gives you. But I just knew I wanted to feel that further and to create that. Be someone who knows how to create a feeling, the science of it and understand that. It just got to a point where I felt like I needed to talk and say how I feel, that I had something to offer, that I also had something to offer myself at the same time.”
“So, it just got to the point where I was like, it’s my turn to talk.”
How have you adjusted to the growing fame?
KH: “I don’t think I have adjusted. I feel super vulnerable in my music. I honestly feel vulnerable in every aspect of my life. It’s just the person I am, through my music… I’ve just always had my heart on my sleeve. So, I think I haven’t adjusted because I haven’t even adjusted in life.”
Would you say all your music displays that kind of vulnerability?
KH: “Yeah, I look back on my whole catalogue – even though I don’t have a big catalogue – I think back on all of my music. It’s all pretty vulnerable.”
You’ve also revealed in the past your frustration with people not being patient to understand you. Do you believe that is changing now you’re gaining a bigger fan base?
KH: “Yeah, I do. I feel like it’s been more to make something out of myself. I think that might be where the frustration comes from and I feel like people don’t understand but I think that it’s getting better.”
So you believe that music for you is almost like an outlet to discover yourself?
KH: “Yeah 100 percent:”
What is one thing you’d love for everyone to understand about you?
KH: “This is off the top of my head. The first thing that comes to mind is that I am extremely in love, but I don’t know exactly what or who. I’m super passionate about everything in music and life.”
How has your music evolved since your very first single?
KH: “I’m way more louder. I always mean what I say … louder in every aspect – spiritually, mentally, physically.
“I’m just trying to own it and it’s definitely more colourful.”
What was the pressure like before releasing your first ever EP?
KH: “I didn’t get to work on it as much as I would have liked to and it just wasn’t perfect. I guess I just wasn’t doing the introduction that I wanted to do. No one got to meet me the way I wanted everyone to meet me, but I don’t think anyone necessarily has a choice when I think about it and it’s okay and makes sense and speaks to the project.”
Do you still believe that now? That you have more to say to your fans and to the greater public?
KH: “Yeah for sure, I feel like that EP was rushed and it was definitely thought out, but it wasn’t my final, ‘this is it’. I just kind of had to throw it out there. I was also worried about coming off too narcissistic. I struggle with that in music too. Just kind of singing about yourself and others comes off very narcissistic and I was scared that it might come off like that as there are more important things in the world to be paying attention to. But I think it has definitely helped more than it has taken away.”
What do you hope to achieve in the next five years?
KH: “I want to make one of the most beautiful albums and make the sound of my heart and I want to make something people can have in high regards to the human soul and intimacy. I just want to make something important.”