South African Blues Rock Singer-Songwriter Kenny Hughes has returned with his album Born & Raised. The album was released today (the 19th of January 2024) and is available to stream on all major music streaming platforms.
The album is a testament to the evolution of Kenny Hughes as an artist, skilfully blending soulful Blues with Rock undertones. Born & Raised offers a rich tapestry of familiar favourites from all his single releases the past 5 years, plus 2 brand-new tracks, showcasing Kenny’s diverse musical prowess.
Each track offers a unique narrative, capturing the essence of his journey and musical exploration. I had a chat to Kenny Hughes about his journey and about Born & Raised. This is what he had to say.
Kenny, your musical journey spans over 7 years. How do you feel your sound has evolved since you first started, and what specific elements in Born & Raised reflect this evolution?
“When I first started, I predominantly stuck to elements of the Blues. Slowly I grew a love for the funkier side of things. Added to that, the full band brought in some Rock influence. in other words, I went from Blues Rock to Blues Funk Rock, and I’m loving every second of it! Tracks such as ‘1920’ and my new single ‘All Over Me’ definitely have a Funk groove to them.”
Your songs have distinct stories behind them. Can you elaborate on your songwriting process? How do personal experiences or inspirations shape the creation of a song?
“I strictly draw from personal experience when writing a song. It’s probably why I also prefer non-fiction when picking up a good book. I play what excites me, I like to believe that keeps it pure, untainted. I figure our personal lives are interesting enough without the need for over-the-top embellishments.”
Your collaborations with Evert Snyman and Albert Frost are notable. How do these collaborations contribute to the richness of your music, and what unique aspects do each of these collaborators bring to the table?
“A wise man once said, if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Music is no different. I love advice from more seasoned professionals. For instance working with Evert opened my mind to the possibilities in studio. As for Albert Frost, what can I say … the man is a legend for a reason!”
Born & Raised not only showcases your musical prowess but also seems to tell a broader story. What overarching concept or theme did you want to convey with this album, and how did you weave it into the individual tracks?
“As previously stated, it’s all drawn from experience. All the tracks portray some part of my life, and while they could be seen as “stand-alone” tracks, I feel that the overarching theme is simply, “Kenny Hughes” as cheesy as that might sound.”
In ‘Run Along,’ you pay homage to guitar legends J.J. Cale, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler and John Mayer. Are there new influences or musical discoveries that have shaped your approach in Born & Raised?
“I’ve definitely come across a plethora of Funk bands that I have come to love. I believe this has had an influence on my approach to rhythm. It’s also quite evident in the drums and bass on the tracks. More Funk at this point than merely Blues.”
With a diverse range of performances, including festivals and opening for renowned artists, is there a specific performance or venue that holds a special place in your heart? What made it memorable?
“STRAB, the Subterranean Rhythm and Blues fest in Ponta Malongane, Mozambique … just wow! I’ve been fortunate enough to play this fest solo, as well as with my band The Kenny Hughes Trio. Both performances will forever be favourites.”
‘Blues Truth’ is a reflection on the musician’s life. How has your perception of the music industry changed since you wrote the song, and do the lyrics still resonate with you?
“In fact, the lyrics resonate even more profoundly. It’s really the first song I ever wrote, way before I knew what it meant to be a musician. Now that I have more of an idea, I can’t believe how close I got to the truth while writing it, without the faintest idea.”
You have reached audiences globally. How do you feel about the international reception, and what do you think resonates universally in your music?
“I’m absolutely elated. It’s amazing that my songs reached places I’ve only dreamt of visiting personally. I think it’s because my lyrics are, at least somewhat, relatable. We’ve all had good times; we’ve all had bad times. It’s humbling to hear a musician sing about things you’ve been through yourself.”
As a guitarist, you have a unique connection with your instrument. Is there a particular guitar riff, solo, or instrumental element in Born & Raised that you are particularly proud of or find personally satisfying?
“I love the solo from my song ’19:20’, it’s basically just the melody from the second verse, but there’s beauty in that simplicity. I often tend to “overplay”, but that solo really forces me to dial it back.”
Looking ahead, are there any dream collaborations or genres you would like to explore in your future projects? How do you envision your sound evolving in the next phase of your musical career?
“I’m always open to collaborations. I would love to get the chance to collaborate with some of the heavy hitters in the industry. Less for the added influence that might bring, but more so, once again, just to learn as much as I can from the more seasoned veterans.”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kenny Hughes for this interview. I wish him all of the best with his future musical endeavors.
You can stream Born & Raised HERE.
More info about Kenny Hughes
Kenny Hughes, a seasoned South African Blues Rock Singer-Songwriter with a seven-year musical journey, has gained acclaim for his passion and dedication to his craft. Having performed at prestigious venues and festivals, he has released eight singles, six of which made it to the Mix FM SA Top 40, with three securing the no. 1 slot. Kenny achieved global recognition as a finalist in the US Banger Music Awards and garnered radio premieres and chart entries in the UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia.
His presence extends to podcasts, interviews, and TV shows worldwide, including Expresso Live and Die Groot Ontbyt. Collaborating with notable artists and producers, Kenny Hughes performs with The Kenny Hughes Trio, featuring Jayson Pieterse and Marais Swanepoel. He has participated in festivals like STRAB and Park Acoustics and opened for artists like Jeremy Loops, Karen Zoid, and Die Heuwels Fantasties.
Watch this space for updates in the Interviews category on SA Music Zone.