From Pandemics to racial unrest, from police brutality to economic turmoil, the World seemingly lost in political chaos at times, 2020 has proven to be a historic year that many would soon want to forget. Not since 1918, have we seen such a crises take hold, as countries all over the World plagued by CV19 have ordered lockdowns and new rules. Social distancing and wearing face coverings have become the new normal, as well as sanitizing everything in site, washing hands and staying home. At the onset of the lockdown orders, people panicked flocking to stores, swiping up groceries, toilet paper and sanitizers in bulk and leaving shelves empty. The U.S. has seen the worst of the crises with over 100,000 lives lost to date, more than 25 million people filing for unemployment and the economies future becoming unstable. The music industry has taken one of the biggest hits as the Coronavirus continued to storm through the U.S. causing the shutdown of all non-essential businesses. All live music events disappeared over-night, tours cancelled, festivals called off, bats and nightclubs closed indefinitely and the future for live music and artists has grown fairly grim. However, for some, it’s been a wakeup call to take control of their careers and to find creative modes to connect with fans, including virtual shows, benefit online streaming concerts, selling merchandise and more. One such artist, South Florida’s very own KEVENS, has viewed this downtime as a way to re-emerge and to re-focus, working on new material, new music as well as launching a new line of merchandise. The World is in need of some healing, some positive vibrations and love, which is exactly what defines Kevens message, “Positivity Is A Necessity”, something he has been pushing through his music since the 90’s.
I had an opportunity to sit down with Keven’s on a virtual zoom call and talk about the state of the World, his new single, “The World Is Burning” and his new merchandise line that just launched.
SBP: How is life treating you?
Kēvens : I can’t complain, I give thanks every single day for the privilege of life and health.
SBP: You’ve been in Music a longtime tell us your journey?
Kēvens : 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 strictly 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 a 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 the 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 belong 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.”
SBP: Tell us about your hot new single “World Is Burning” and how it came about.
Kēvens : Being a vegetarian most of my life gave me an immense appreciation for Mother Nature, uncovering that all we need has already been made available without the need to take animal lives. A few years ago, I completed a different version of the song when I learned that it’s no longer safe to eat fish from the ocean, due to the crazy amount of plastic we have put in the world’s ocean. I went to vegan soon after. A year and a half ago, I took a trip to Hawaii and experienced the power of Mother Nature, volcanic irruptions on the Big Island and an earthquake. When I came back to Florida, I went back in the studio, moved a few lines around and re-recorded the version that is now released.
SBP: Are you religious?
Kēvens : Religion I believe was created to negate God, a lot of humans claim how we love the one true God, yet here we are fighting against one another in the name of God. So the answer is, I am a mystical man.
SBP: With the current political climate, coronavirus and other things happening, it seems like the perfect timing for your new song, was that the plan?
Kēvens : This song was written way before I heard of the coronavirus or the fires in Australia, I had a premonition. I try hard to stay neutral in any political conversation due to deep personal beliefs. Again, the answer is no, I didn’t write this song because of politricks. Know this, whether you believe it’s manmade or the Earth’s natural cycles, climate change is happening, and the time for action is right now.
|SBP: We’re in a strange new World with the coronavirus and lockdown. How did you pass the time? Kēvens: Strange times indeed. The lockdown has been very hard on most of us. I finally made it to the studio last week to finalize prior projects with mask and goggles on, highly unusual to say the least but this is where we are at right now. My lady and I adopted a couple of kittens right before the lockdown and that has kept us entertained. I mainly go out for grocery shopping and miss my morning walks in the park tremendously. But I have been doing more gardening, more praying and meditating in nature and that has been very enriching. SBP: It seems the music industry and artists got hit hard because of CV19 and there will be no live shows for at least a year or more, has that hurt your momentum and income? Kēvens: Hurt! totally. I lost several shows due to Covid-19, needless to say, the music industry will not be the same when their gate reopens. I truly feel due to the times, singers and writers with a higher purpose will have the spotlight shine on them because people are suffering right now, minds aren’t right and in need of positive inspiration to cope with the unexpected punches of life. For instance, earlier I was listening to John Legend doing a rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, very telling of the times. SBP: “Positivity Is A Necessity” is a slogan you came up with years back and is more relevant than ever today, how are you inspiring and pushing the positive vibes? Kēvens: Simple, I keep writing songs that are relevant to the intention to inspire all who listen to do right. That has been the mission and no plan to veer off that track. SBP: You’ve got a new merch line that you just launched, tell us about that? Kēvens: I have been working on my signature line for over a year, with extra time in my hand due to the lockdown, my designer and I were able to focus on countless new designs. My main store at the moment is Teespring and just got accepted on Amazon but have not uploaded any designs there yet. I am very proud of every single design I have, they are beautiful, purposeful with quality material. I have something for everyone at my store, I’d like to invite everyone to take a look. https://teespring.com/stores/kevens|
SBP: Are you doing any virtual shows or live streaming? Kēvens: I am not. Somehow that doesn’t interest me much. I am a band’s man who has not been able to jam, I am open to doing live streaming in the future when I can get with my crew again. SBP: Beyond the Pandemic, we are also facing recent police brutality with the killing of George Floyd and others in past, as well as blatant racism, how has that influenced your music past, present and future? Kēvens: George Floyd was murdered in front of our eyes. The devil is in the world and using those without light to do his bidding, and make us believe in him that’s what’s going on, nothing new under the sun. Because of cellphone technology, we are now able to catch some of them in the act of slaughtering a human life and it’s horrific given that some feel it was set up for political use. Police brutality is a worldwide problem, because policemen and women are people, and people are power-hungry from the dawn of civilization. I have addressed those topics in different songs I’ve written over the years. Do check out “Open Your Eyes”, Freedom for Humanity, “Break Down The Wall” and of course “Sweet Lady Liberty” to name a few.
SBP: In the world of copycats, how do you stay fresh and current with your music?
Kēvens: I stay true to myself by always going deep and find songs my soul wants to sing. I’ve always been told throughout my career that I was ahead of my time, so keeping fresh was never something I worry about.
SPB: Your sound is a blend of many genres, how do you categorize your music?
Kēvens : To simplify it; rock/reggae dub and edm
SPB: You have played shows all over the world and last year you were a featured act at Ultra Miami, how was that?
Kēvens: Prior to that show you mentioned, I didn’t play ultra since 2009. It was good to be back, especially sharing that stage with Rabbit in The Moon again as the two of us have a deep history with the Ultra brand. I was in awe to see how big that festival had gotten since I was there last. I remember Ultra on the sand of Miami beach back in 1999 where it all started and I was there on the mic asking the audience if they would like to party with us the following year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahwfOh_qgyw
Never did anyone know at that time it was going to get that big and I am proud to be the only all-live band to grace that stage in the first few years, bringing my rock reggae drum and bass sound with my message of peace and unity.
SPB: Tell me one secret about you, no body knows?
Kēvens: I love watching CBS Sunday Morning with my Queen.
SBP: What’s next for Kēvens?
Kēvens: Well like I said recently in another interview, I have always had an eclectic musical style that is hard to put into a specific genre. I would love to expand on that quality and spend more time collaborating with like-minded artists that aren’t afraid to bend their musical styles and step into uncharted territory.
For more info on Kevens visit:
Smart audio link to MP3