Upcomer Kedus appears soft-spoken, perhaps tentative, when he materializes for his interview over zoom. At first, it’s surprising considering the sheer volume of music that he’s previously released, 5 mixtapes and an EP to date, naturally, it felt like he’d have a lot to say. As we make our way through the interview, however, Kedus slips in a statement that makes it click, “Normally I don’t talk much about things, so music is the way I do.”
For what Kedus doesn’t say in conversation, he makes up for in the sheer quality and quantity of his music. His discography appears as an index to his experiences, his mixtapes, when lined up in chronological order, acting as chapters to his adolescence. Listening back, we hear him grow, moving in on themes like aspiration, identity, come-up, family and then love.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the young artist is that his music has been wholly self-engineered. What’s resulted is an output defunct of any type of industry manufacturing, and instead opened doors to a fluid yet cohesive exploration of sound, from lo-fi to hip hop to jazz to dancehall to rap to indie.
What this says is that he’s someone who’s had a clear musical vision from an early age. One that saw him build his own home studio at the age of 15 and release his first track ‘The Definition’ (according to SoundCloud), at just 16. Now at 20, and moving on from his adolescence, Kedus’s newest chapter begins with the release ‘Sunset Dream’, his first track since signing to Warner and Db music, and a song that endeavours themes of aspiration and longing.
Having recently moved from Brisbane to Sydney for his music we stopped in on the upcoming artist to talk his latest single, past releases and moving on up in the big city.
How’s 2021 going for you so far?
Yeah it’s good. It’s going well. I released my song, so it’s exciting times.
So that’s ‘Sunset Dream’ that you just released. What was the inspiration behind that?
I’ve always liked looking at sunsets at a specific time, on a beach or something. When I look out I envision what things could be like. I have dreams of just being able to chill on the beach, with a girl in the future and stare at the sunset. So when I look at it I see what could be. So the inspiration is just seeing what could be. It’s like a love song or a longing.
I actually went back on your SoundCloud and saw that you have a crazy amount of releases. Is there something about your latest release ‘Sunset Dream’ that differentiates it from all of those previous releases?
It just has a certain feeling to it. My other releases all align with this story. For example, with each mixtape, there’s usually some underlying story or theme. So it’s not meant to be a standout, it’s meant to all be one.
For ‘The Genie’, that was your last project, you said it was the final chapter. What did you mean by that?
So my mixtapes were my chapters of adolescence, that’s what I call it. When I made them I didn’t expect to see it in this way until I finished because I saw myself growing up in each mixtape. So I just saw all of them as my chapters of adolescence and then that was the last chapter, because I’m now turning into an adult.
What’s been your favourite chapter?
I think it’s hard. They’re all my favourites but I can’t really choose, because they’re all different parts of my life, but I like the Shmood story, it’s probably my favourite just cause it’s like an elevator of emotions. That was the theme and that’s why it’s my favourite. But then I look at The Genie and then I don’t know, I don’t know. For today I would say Shmood.
Obviously your sound changes a little bit on each release as you get older, but what’s been the most important thing you’ve found in crafting your sound in the past 5 years?
The thing I’ve learnt is that you’re able to do so much, if you are willing to try. I didn’t know what I was going to do when I wanted to do it, I thought I needed a lot of things but then Youtube helped me out with that so much. So that’s probably the thing I’ve learnt the most, is that you can do a lot of it from your room and then that helps you be more open, vulnerable and creative. But also it’s good to work with people, so don’t get me wrong, like bouncing ideas off of each other, but it’s also good to be in a place where you can be fully vulnerable.
Have you done many collaborations so far?
Yeah, I’ve worked with a few people but it’s all in the vault-like along the road. It’s been good, I’ve worked with producers like Liam Thomas, he’s a legend, he was good to work with and Aywy, but yeah that was fun.
Do you feel like you naturally seek out collaborators who are on the same page as you, or do you like collaborating with people who are different and can bring new ideas?
I think I like collaborating with different and also the same because when they’re different, you get to open up your palette and you get to try new things and then when it’s the same you get to build a stronger song from each other’s vibes. I guess both.
You brush over a lot of different topics and sounds. What’s your process in writing a song, it seems like you have a lot of inspiration?
I do different things. Like sometimes I’ll be at different places and I’ll just feel something when I’m there and I’ll just write something. Or I’ll be going through something and I just want to talk about it cause normally I don’t talk much about things, so music is the way I do. And then I also have so many inspirations music-wise. Like Kanye, Pharell, Chris Brown, Miguel, Drake, there’s a lot. So when I hear something and I connect I want to express it.
When did you get into music? Did you have a pretty musical family?
Yeah, I mean my parents, they always liked music. They’d play all types of music, but they weren’t musicians but they always allowed me to be play, like they were always okay with music. I used to have this little drum kit and I’d just bang on it all day when I was a kid. I used to make Youtube videos, and just sing with a guitar. I had no idea how to play but I was only playing the top string (laughs).
So you’re in Sydney now, but I was going to ask a question about the Brisbane music scene. You obviously moved to Sydney for a reason.
Yeah, I mean I never explored the Brisbane scene, I never saw one but I know there were people doing their thing and it’s going now, but I’m proud of them and hopefully we can build it more later on.
What’s the experience been like making music for yourself to being backed by a label? Is there a change in how you make music?Nah, that’s the beauty of the thing I’m in because they really just allow me to create. Warner just give me the resources and then Db they give me the creativity, allowing me to release my creativity the way I want and with them, they share the vision. I had no idea how it would go, so I was glad.
With your music it’s obviously very vulnerable and introspective and you talk a lot about personal things. What do you hope people get out of your music?
I hope I can inspire people like me to just be themselves and be honest and also make an effort towards whatever they do. I just want to inspire people with my music, make people feel good. With me whenever I listen to music, my problems just melt away, and it’s a moment where time stops, you’re immersed in it. So I wanted to make music that creates the same feeling I get for another person. Because that helped me a lot.
Follow Kedus here for more and stream his latest single ‘Sunset Dream’ below.