Ariana Grande. The Jonas Brothers. Dua Lipa. These are just a few of the artists that kennedi has helped pen tracks for over the last few years since leaving her native Spicer, Minnesota for Los Angeles. Well, technically she left for Long Beach, where she went to college before her songwriting career took off.
Now the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is shifting her focus to her own career as an artist under the moniker kennedi. Last month she dropped her first single of 2020 along with a trippy visualizer featured below. A lush electro pop track, “apology” sees kennedi wrestling with some messy feelings about an ex.
“Feel like I owe you an apology / Feel like I maybe let you down / I got somebody laying next to me / I know we’re not together now / But I feel like I owe you an apology,” kennedi sings in the chorus over layered beats and melodies. “Feel like I maybe let you down / You’re probably gonna hate me / I know we’re not together now.”
The track isn’t about owing your ex an apology as much as it’s about realizing you don’t owe your ex an apology even though it feels like you do.
“Even though I had been broken up with my ex for over a year [when I wrote this], we were together for so long I felt like I owed her an apology when I hooked up with someone for the first time,” kennedi tells American Songwriter. “I knew that I didn’t, but feelings aren’t logical.”
kennedi recorded the “apology” at Heavy Mellow’s house: “Me and him and my friend Chelsea were all in his studio and I was crying my eyes out with a blunt in my mouth–the most me thing ever,” she says.
For kennedi, sobbing and smoking a blunt is not a bad position to be in while writing. What’s important is to let herself feel, both for the sake of her craft and for the sake of healing.
“[I write at my best when I] have something that’s been on my heart for a while,” explains the singer-songwriter. “A lot of times there will be a song on my heart that I don’t want to write because I don’t want to feel how I felt again. One thing I’ve found though is I need to in order to heal. Doesn’t mean it needs to come out.”
Asked what she hopes people take away from “apology,” kennedi reiterates the importance of sitting with one’s feelings: “Don’t beat yourself up for feeling a certain way. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. If you bottle it up it will destroy you. You learn so much about you when you allow yourself to be you.”
kennedi cites Amy Winehouse as the songwriter she most admires right now, though she’s also called Lana Del Rey a major inspiration. “I relate to [Winehouse] more than any songwriter I’ve ever known,” says the artist. “I watched the  documentary [Amy] and have spoken to people who were close to her, [and] it sounds like we’ve been through a lot of the same things.”
Despite her love for Amy and Lana, kennedi’s favorite lyric comes from Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin. “No matter how much time goes by or how many times I listen to the song, it rips me apart the same way,” kennedi says of the track, which appeared on Raitt’s 1991 album Luck of the Draw.
kennedi isn’t shy about her ambitions, telling American Songwriter that she hopes to one day “perform for the entire globe” and “to make people happy, but mostly to not feel alone in what they’re feeling.” Again, feeling is everything for kennedi: “I think people need real authentic music – now more than ever.”
“apology” is out now via Platoon.