With the world navigating a global pandemic and tensions building over political and social injustices, it is crucial for people to unite and support one another in these testing times. Spreading positivity through the universal language of music, Kēvens is determined to combat the current state of affairs with a profound creation, ‘Battle For Peace’. With a deep rooted passion for peace and unity, Kēvens crafts an essential piece of music that combines elements of electronic dance music, drum and bass & reggae with a Japanese flair. DMCWORLD checks in with the man himself to find out more about his extraordinary musical journey…
Hi Kēvens! Great to have you with us on DMC World and congratulations on the new single!
Thank you for taking interest in this project and being willing to help spread the message. A pleasure to be here…
Please tell us a little about the background to ‘Battle for Peace’ and how it came about!
Battle for Peace was inspired by the Injustice man does to his fellow man. Two of my heroes, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela have inspired me early on towards the true meaning of nonviolence and equal rights. Later on in life, in the search of finding myself, I discovered spirituality and the definition of non-violence took on a different form. To achieve a state free of violence , one must be peaceful and peace begins in the mind through meditation, not at the UN. Having said that, let me point out, the racists of yesteryear have passed on their lack of sympathy/empathy to their children who’ve now grown up to become high members of society and although lynching has been abolished, it has taken a different form. We have become so desensitized to the bloodshed, too many of us dismiss it like yesterday’s news instead of being appalled and outraged.
The music video is a perfect visual accompaniment for the track. How did you come up with the idea and what was the filming process like?
As an American citizen, I am a strong believer that every man or woman has the right to defend his or her life and the life of loved ones when in danger. The tools of defense vary, from hand to hand combats, swords to guns. But when an individual decides to use in this case, the gun to take life senselessly then everyone of us is in danger. Kids in school who have no business with guns are killing each other. Deranged people who shouldn’t have access to a military grade weapons, are terrorizing countless communities all over. All police officers are highly trained gun men/women, too many of them chose when open fire on harmless civilians of color to take their lives instead of a flesh wound. Church and Temples where humanity have long utilize as places of worship have now turned into death traps. I wrote this song with the purpose of inspiring all who hear it to live free of violence. That is the treatment I wrote for the music video and requested specific scenes from Eli the director’s footage library to merge with my scenes. That was the process.
This year has been extremely different for us all. How have you been keeping positive and moving forward?
A chapter a day keeps the devil away, they say. I do my morning meditations, I keep in prayer and remember why I am here in the world. That has kept me focused on my tasks.
I am thankful to have timely songs. I find myself engaged in different conversations almost daily on Twitter, my favorite social media platform at the moment; taking the time to uplift the morale of others through my work renews my purpose. Then there is my business as a record label owner and publisher, very demanding jobs, causing me to be on the phone longer than I want to everyday in the name of music. And of course, COVID-19 does not stop creativity as an artist. All and all, I am keeping it positive while remaining very busy.
You have been in the industry for many years. Can you pinpoint a couple of your top moments so far?
There have been a lot of career milestones that I am very proud of, I will share with you two that are more personal to me. First, performing at the Ice Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia and meeting the Jacksons right before going on. They were the special guests at that event and I didn’t find out I would be following them until I walked backstage thinking I was about to go on. It took every ounce of confidence to find the energy to go on after these Legends.
Second, performing my first arena show at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque New Mexico. It was a spiritual experience, one I will take with me always.
Would be amazing if you could tell our readers how you found your way into the music industry and when you knew it was the right path for you.
This is the most asked question of the year for me. After I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a pilot. I went to the local US air-force enrollment office but God had other plans for me. I didn’t meet the strict physical and medical requirements. My vision was not up to par, and my almost 6’5” frame might have also been a problem. With no direction in life, I said to myself, maybe I should try DJing and MCing. I was already a great lover of music, and through a friend who owned a local club, I purchased several crates of reggae and dub records.I started DJing at night in addition to my day job, making small change, mostly on Monday nights. Years later, I became the resident DJ at a club in Coconut Grove Florida, called The Village Inn, and that is where I met Anthony Booker. Toward the end of the night, I would always go on the mic to freestyle on a couple of songs with the band. One night I jumped on the last set of local reggae band, Copacetic. The guest bass player that night was Anthony. After a nice jam session, we spoke about playing together on a regular basis. Not long after, he called and invited me to a band rehearsal. When I arrived at the address he gave me, I saw a bunch of Bob Marley and The Wailers tour cases, and Marley memorabilia that belonged in a museum. I didn’t say anything, but couldn’t stop wondering where I was. After jamming for a while, his mother, an older Rasta woman opened the door and asked, “Do you gentlemen want something to drink?” I recognized her right away. It was Cedella Marley Booker, also mother to The Gong, aka Robert Nesta Marley. I almost passed out. Anthony was laughing at the situation, knowing that after all of our talks about reggae, he never once told me who his big brother was. On the second half of that rehearsal, young Julian Marley joined in making it even more surreal. That was the start of the first band I was a part of, “Le Coup.”
Are there any artists you would love to collaborate with, and why?
There are a few artists I’d love to work with. A couple of years ago in Seoul , I got to share the live stage with ICE CUBE at the Seoul Olympic Stadium during Ultra Korea. After my show, I walked backstage to my changing room which was next to his, there he was standing. I approached him and asked what he thought of my set, and during that conversation I told him how much I love his work and would love to do a song with him. Let me just say the answer wasn’t no. It would be a pleasure to collaborate on a song with that brother.
I would love to collaborate with so many musical masters: Pharrell Williams, Carl Cox, Will.I.Am, Solange, Andre 3000, Sting, Bono, Sade, Finneas, Sia — the list could go on. I have a feeling in 2021 and beyond, once this COVID-19 is behind us, you will see unexpected collaborations from all kind of artists. We need to come together more than ever and collectively ring the alarm on all kind of wrongs that we can no longer tolerate.
Where do you find inspiration for your music?
The Most High is the source of all of my inspirations. Too many times I get up from sleep with an idea and must rush to write it down or it vanishes. While driving, in the shower, watching the news, the list goes on. There is a beat playing right now in my head and a baseline isn’t too far off. Always there when I need them.
You have played at some of the most revered festivals and venues in the world. Is there any place you haven’t played that you dream of playing?
There are a few that come to mind right away. Glastonbury, Iceland Airwaves, Montreux Jazz Festival, Fuji Rock and Rocking Rio to name a few. I did perform at Coachella back in 1999 with a group I was working with at the time (The BassBin Twins). I certainly would love to go back and bring my live theatrical ensemble and rock that event.
Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to discuss?
Outside of having other songs that will follow “Battle for Peace”? Absolutely. I have been busy behind the scenes working on inspiring people to vote in the up and coming election. I even developed a hashtag and merch fitting for the occasion. #VotingForMyAmerica speaks to citizens who feel that America should be for the people and by the people, all of the people. Another project in development is online wine tastings and musical performances for an intimate group of attendees. Eventually, my vision is to have my own wine label! Check-in with me via kevens.com before the election, I might have the first wine tasting open for sign-up by then.
I enjoyed your questions and hope your audience embraces my latest work.