Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I’m Kenton Chen :). I’m based in LA, grew up around here, and sing, act, and write. I love getting into the nitty-gritty of human complexities, and really want to inspire people to be compassionate to each other and to themselves.
How did you first get into music?
I grew up playing violin and piano, and sang in church.
How would you describe your musical style?
It’s a mixture of indie-electric and neo-Soul.
What did you learn from your time on NBC’s Sing-Off, Postmodern Jukebox, and Scary Pockets?
Sing-Off: Life is not a competition. I’m still friends with many people from the show.
Postmodern Jukebox: People still like jazz! It’s been refreshing to be able to sing in a style that I thought people were over-hearing.
Scary Pockets: I’ve learned to really think on my feet. The amount of musicianship in that room is astounding, and the way we record each new song is so challenging that I am always amazed we pull it off. I have no choice but to trust and listen because anything I might have prepared before the session is probably going out the window once we hit record.
You’ve performed/supported artists such as Katy Perry, Kesha, Sara Bareilles, Mary J. Blige, and Jennifer Hudson, as well as toured with Portugal the Man and Ben Folds. How have those experiences shaped you as an artist?
To have performed for any of those artists is such an honor. We’re talking at the top of their game, who are taking big risks and creating so much art. Each time I get to spend extended time with an artist, I’m watching and learning, whether it’s their style, their ethic, their brand, each performer has such a different vibe and I get to embody that and let it marinate in me till my next project.
Talk to us about the inspiration behind your new project “Bridesmen”.
My name has been affiliated with so many projects. When I came back to releasing new music, I realized I needed a fresh start – a band name that hasn’t been touched. It was only convenient that I was about to be a part of my friend’s wedding.
It got me thinking:
Life is like a wedding. We often don’t have a place in the ceremony, like we’re on the wrong side of the aisle, or we’re never going to be in the center. What I want to embrace, and thus explore, is that feeling that we are all bridesmen – in that intense isolation amongst all this pomp and circumstance, we can choose to stay, we can choose to love, and we can choose to overcome.
Your latest single is called “Someone Who Loves Me”. Tell us about this song.
I work really hard, often to the point where I forget about my personal life. One day, I got to thinking, “What if all this hard is for nothing? What if I have no one to share my achievements with?” What a terrible thought that at the end of the day, there could be no one for me to come home to and take off my game face, someone with whom I can be vulnerable.
So, I wrote in my journal, “I just want someone who loves me.” It’s not original, in fact, probably the least original thought other than “how will I sleep/eat/survive tonight.” But it rang true for me – and I wanted to be raw and honest about that.
What can audiences expect from the music video for the song (which was recently released)?
These are real people. Real friends of mine. And what they share is not manufactured, it’s not some elaborate story we concocted. The director and I – we just set a camera in front of each person and told them to think about their past and what they wish they could tell their younger selves.
Expect a lot of that. And some ugly crying from me :).
What advice would you give to aspiring singers/songwriters?
Write every day. Especially if it’s trash. And when you get the opportunity, write with other people. Study other songs, and other art forms. Because the more you ingest, the better you communicate the words you have inside you.
What’s your life like outside of the studio?
Honestly? I think I’m pretty boring. Other than my other careers (acting and teaching), I go the gym, take dance classes, and try to catch up on as many podcasts and Netflix as I can without losing too much sleep. Also, I just bought a masticating juicer and am obsessed with celery juice. Too much?
Let the readers know where to find you online.
I am on instagram as @itskenton or @bridesmen. My website is kentonchen.com, where I will post all my shows, including collaborations, solo projects and of course, bridesmen. I have a show with Scary Pockets at the end of the month I am stoked about.