Ian Kenville talks Collaborations and New Album 1997 (Q&A pt.2)

As part two of our conversation (pt.1), Ian Kenville expands on artists he’s worked with in the past and looks forward to his new project coming soon.

Zach @newh2o: Let’s talk about your new album. What was the decision to switch the title from Young Franco to 1997? What was it like to pick songs for the album?

Ian Kenville: Young Franco conceptually didn’t pan out the way I wanted. I wanted an album that was about legacy, but I could never get the title track right. The album ended up being more about my music journey, so 1997 made more sense for the title since that’s the year I was born.

Zach @newh2o: When you were making it did you just make a whole bunch of songs and then pick ones that would better fit the concept or start with very specific songs to make in mind?

IK: I made a road map and loosely followed it.

Originally The Jungle and 80’s girl weren’t gonna be on there. I made 2 different songs and then swapped them out.

I specifically wrote and made “Joven,” “On Ten,” “Broke” and “1997” for this record. The other songs I wrote over the summer. “80’s girl” was actually the last song to be written. I’d already sent Jeff the songs to mix. I watched bumblebee and called Jordy at 3 am a few hours later and told her I wrote a song for us. She loved it and the rest is history.

Zach @newh2o: Man you have some pretty high-profile features on the project! Good to see Shiwan is on there; whenever you two link-up it’s fire. You dropped a few other songs up to the release of this project though, one with Ruslan and most recently Jenna Renae.

Luc @newh2o: Yeah, talk about collaborating with Ruslan.

IK: I opened for Ruslan, Th3 Saga, Shope and Foggieraw at a show in Brooklyn summer of 2017. Ruslan was one of the most serious yet nice dudes I ever got to work with.

At the end of the show I told him I had a record I wanted to make with him. So I went home, made it the best it could be, and just texted him the demo.

Leading up to Indie Jones 2 he was doing a bunch of features for promo so he said he’d be down to feature on the record. It was pretty straight forward, but he took time to do the verse and it was a fun experience.

I held it until December of 2018 though because I wanted to wait till I had a bigger following before releasing the song. Trust me. It wasn’t easy to do.

Most features with bigger artists pretty much work this way – send a demo, they agree, you get a verse. It was the same way when I made a track with Young Noah the year prior.

Luc @newh2o: It’s so great that all these connections were organic and natural. But as far as creative consistency, how do you go about finding harmony with others but still be yourself? How do you follow someone else’s direction while also staying true to who you are?

IK: It’s for sure different when working with different artists or producers.

To work with a certain producer it’s really gotta fit the sound of what I’m trying to do. I often listen to the beat before writing or I use another song as a reference to go off of when giving the producer direction. Honestly, I first have to vibe with producer’s work (usually I listen to other songs they make before deciding to reach out to try to make records with them). Most guys work with anyone who’s serious about making music. It’s a business.

Right now I’ve been working a lot with my buddy Yonas who’s produced songs for me since 2016, Riley (FVMELESS), and Tre (my friend who recently passed). They were the only producers on my new record.

Artists are different though, and every collab is different depending on the personality of the artist. My favorite way to collab is to write and record in the same room and make the song together. The most notable cases of that are my collabs with Jordy, my best friend (“Fade Away,” “Intervention,” most recently “80’s Girl”), and Shiwan.

Many of my collabs though occur in different cities, so it doesn’t always work at that way. The key to me is making a song that I can hear the other artist on, while still keeping it to my style and brand.

I had the opportunity to work with a bunch of artists on the album, and they were all different. For example Xay Hill was quick. I sent him the song completed with an empty verse slot and he just hopped on.

Working with Jeff Cabreja and James Gardin was a lot more hands on. Both of em constantly texted and called while we created the songs piece by piece. Jeff and I probably face-timed a dozen times/pumped out 6 or so demos while making Joven.

It’s just different styles. Jeff and I are close so we manage to collab well even if we can’t be in the same room. Same with Shiwan.

Luc @newh2o: Ian, I’m so excited to hear you new project, 1997 and anticipating big things from you in the future! Thank you so much for the chat. We’ll be in touch!

Follow Ian Kenville here.