Q&A: ‘Kechi speaks on personal identity, new EP ‘The Light’


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer ‘Kechi graduated from Bienen in 2019 with a concentration in classical and contemporary voice and composition. “The Light” is his second EP.

Stephen Council, Reporter

He goes by ‘Kechi. He is well-versed in both classical music and vocal composition. He’s a Northwestern graduate and a Chicago native. All these identities have come to shine in “The Light,” Ikechi Ihemeson’s (Bienen ‘19) long-in-the-works second EP. The seven-track blend of lyrical soul, R&B, jazz, hip-hop and gospel is dropping this Saturday, and The Daily caught up with the alum a few days before his release.

This interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity.

The Daily: Your last EP, “Late Night Love Confessions,” was poetic, lyrical, and quiet. What’s new, and what’s the same in “The Light”?
‘Kechi: I definitely go back to the intimacy of “Late Night Love Confessions.” For each whole song, it’s definitely a lot of instrumentation put into it, the arrangements are definitely more developed. It’s definitely a big difference, a bigger sound, but still very personal.

The Daily: Are you pleased with how the EP turned out, and how “you” the music is?
‘Kechi: Even a few months before finishing it, I was asking myself: “Do I find myself resonating this music right now?” because it’s hard to finish a project when you’re not really into it. It’s not really a part of you. So I had to find a way to get back on track. But I was able to, and I’m really happy with the way it sounds right now.

The Daily: What kind of issues do you deal with in this project?
‘Kechi: The theme is the light and in this EP, I really do navigate what that means symbolically. Obviously the light literally illuminates a space, brings certain images, brings certain things to sight for people to see. And for me personally, I’ve always struggled with allowing the symbolic light in me to shine… So it’s definitely something for me to meditate on: How do I shine that light, how do I follow it?

The Daily: Has your life and mentality changed since graduating from Bienen?
‘Kechi: Man, it’s been quite a journey. I’ve just been diving full on into music, been really getting around the scene meeting a lot of incredible artists and groups and just networking with them. Chicago has a very beautiful sort of artistry and mentality. The more I’m in it, the more people I get to meet, get to collaborate with. There’s ups and downs for sure, because music is not an easy industry to get into, but it’s been all good. It’s been all love.

The Daily: What has living in Chicago done for your music?
‘Kechi: There’s soul in Chicago, and I found myself listening to a lot of Erykah Badu and D’Angelo on the regular, and actually studying it, and seeing how they develop their sound and how I can incorporate that to the unique sound that I’m trying to make with my love for soul. That’s been guided by a lot of great artists, a lot of gigs, a lot of open mics and different pockets of the Chicago scene I’ve been able to interact with.

The Daily: You led this EP with a release of the single “Bells.” Why that song?
‘Kechi: It’s one of the oldest songs that’s included on there. It was one of those songs I definitely spent the most time on at that point, just in terms of production and writing. And I feel like it’s a proper introduction to who I am, who ‘Kechi is.

The Daily: The EP drops this Saturday, what comes next?
‘Kechi: One way or the other I’ll definitely be performing live music, and I’m working on the next releases. I’ve set a lot of goals for 2020 in terms of putting out content and putting my name out there as a musician to be reckoned with… Y’all should keep an eye out for that. There’s more ‘Kechi music coming.

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