Kyle Kinnamon, known as KeWav, is a young producer, singer, and rapper from Champaign. His debut project titled NewWav was one of best collections of R&B released in the past few years from our local scene. In this interview, we talk about his background in music, living in Champaign, and his musical influences. Check out the NewWavEP for yourself at the bottom of the interview.
Smile Politely: On your Soundcloud it says you are from Champaign, what would you say is your favorite part of Chambana, and how has it shaped who you are today?
Kyle Kinnamon: One of my favorite things about Chambana has always been the art scene. It’s such a hotspot for all kinds of talent. For a small town, this community has a lot going on. There are a lot of venues for local musicians. Friday Night Live is always a good opportunity for showcasing local talent. I’ve been playing at Friday Night Live for the past few years in addition to a few shows at the Sipyard, the Accord, and the Canopy Club. I also grew up doing musical theater in Champaign-Urbana at the Station Theater, Parkland, and the Virginia Theater.
Photo from Facebook
SP: What's your favorite venue in Chambana?
Kinnamon: My favorite venue has to be the Canopy Club. It’s so cool to have a local venue that attracts such big acts. Some great artists have performed there. It’s also the perfect place for the local hip hop scene to showcase itself. They have a lot of open mics and set events for local talent; it’s great.
SP: You seem like you have an extensive knowledge in your craft, when and how did you first get into music?
Kinnamon: I got into music when I was 5 years old. That’s when I first started playing the piano. It’s really the foundation of everything I know musically. Around 5th grade was when I started expanding on it. That’s when I found out I had a voice and started playing guitar as well. During middle school was when I was put on heavily to hip hop/R&B and started making beats.
SP: What are some artists that you were listening to in middle school?
Kinnamon: I went through so many little phases of music tastes in middle school. Eminem is a given. I used to be all about Em, and he’s still a big inspiration for me today. I was also just getting into 2Pac and Biggie. I learned to view the art form from a deeper perspective thanks to Pac and learned the importance of lyricism and poetic elements from Biggie. Then there were modern R&B artists like Chris Brown, August Alsina, Trey Songz, and Usher. I also went through a little pop-punk phase and I would bump Green Day, Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, etc. Weird as hell.
SP: When did you start creating your own songs and what has been your favorite release to date?
Kinnamon: I started writing my own songs when I was in 7th grade. Stealing my English teacher’s “rhyming dictionary” was probably one of the best moves I made throughout my young adulthood. I would spend hours on end using it for writing lyrics in class and literally everywhere else. I’ve written dozens and dozens of songs since then but my favorite song I’ve put out to date is probably “HMU” off of NewWavEP. Such a bop.
SP: I’m a big fan of NewWavEP, it was definitely one of my favorite projects released last year from the Champaign/Urbana scene. What was your creative process responsible for the making of your debut project?
Kinnamon: Thank you so much, bro. The main idea behind NewWav was really to give people a taste of certain aspects of my teenage experience, ranging from loneliness and anxiety to first love experiences and the desire to make it out of your current life situation
SP: How did you first get in touch with theMIND and what was it like working on “Where we Tryna Go” with him?
Kinnamon: I wish I could go on about how we had a dope session together... but unfortunately, I never had the pleasure. The Chicago hip hop scene has to be my absolute favorite. The style and sound of Chi-Town are incredibly distinct and unique. Some of my favorite artists are from there. People like Saba, Smino, Noname, and of course, theMIND have their own sound and are basically their own sub-genre of the art form. My goal is to eventually work with all of them. Back in late September, I tagged the artists I mentioned above in my Instagram story saying I wanted to work with them. theMIND happened to respond to it and offered to do a feature with me. So, I took one of the best beats I had ever made and emailed it to him so he could lay the hook down. Around a month later he sent me the hook and the song was all wrapped up and put together. Like I said, I wish I had gotten the opportunity to actually meet him and have the whole studio experience, but nonetheless, I’m thankful I got to work with one of the many artists on my bucket list.
SP: What are you hoping to accomplish this year and what’s next for you?
Kinnamon: This year I hope to solidify a decent-sized fan base, perform at more venues in the C-U and beyond, and just really get my name up, you know? I’ve stayed in my comfort zone long enough and I want to share pieces of my heart with everyone and just truly let them know what I’m about. My next move is to drop this project I have in the works sometime late spring/early summer.