With rich melodies, lush vocals and lyrics written as if his heart is truly on his sleeve, singer-songwriter So Kindly is an emerging talent that is one you should keep your eyes on.
With the myriad of artists & songs to listen to now in a streaming society, it feels like music is more saturated than ever; breaking out and being discovered is becoming more and more difficult, which is why it’s so refreshing to discover the incredible force that is So Kindly. Hailing from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, So Kindly is an artist that weaves deep, poetic lyrics with emotive sounds — two things that solidify him as an eclectic artist that understands that genre is not something that constricts but uplifts someone’s artistry. His latest single “Send Me A Sign” is one that is the catalyst of an internal discussion between himself and the universe; pulling deep at his own thinking and analyzing it with a fine-tooth comb.
1883 chats with So Kindly about his growth as an artist, his new single “Send Me A Sign,” and more.
You released your debut EP back in 2017 — how would you say you’ve grown and developed as an artist & songwriter between then and now?
I think that I’ve focused in a little more on the type of music I want to make, I feel like I’ve found my sound in some sense. It’s something that I’m sure will constantly be shifting but I am happy with the feeling that I am capturing at the moment. I’ve also become more confident in my songwriting abilities which I think has come with time. I studied portrait painting at University and have pretty much taught myself how to produce music, which I think may have held me back in the early stages of my career. But now I think because I am self-taught it has created a sound that is unique to me. I’ve also become acutely aware of what I am saying in a song lyrically. Back then I didn’t pay much attention to the words, now I really work on what my subject matters are. It sounds so obvious but when I am producing music I have put in place personal rules, one of them being, never put in a sound that isn’t adding to the piece. I think in 2017 I might have overcooked a couple of tracks, I won’t say which ones.
Talk me through the meaning of your powerful new single ‘Send Me A Sign’ — what’s the meaning behind it and what inspired you to write & record it?
It was an incredibly introspective time of my life when I wrote this one. I was writing a lot about the issues I had with whoever or whatever made this world and was unsure as to why some things were happening in my life. I wanted answers for those things. It’s littered with metaphors and imagery which I felt got my point across well. Sometimes we just need to know everything is going to be okay. I think when it comes down to it I was just feeling neglected by my creator and needed to say something. I felt I needed to put this out in a permanent way as if to solidify that desperation I was feeling and for the ideas to be taken on board. I trust my creator heard it. Hopefully, they have a Spotify subscription.
Was there something that you learned about yourself while writing ‘Send Me A Sign’?
That’s a great question. If I was to look back on it, I asked for answers to questions in my life through this song. Since then I feel that I’ve had some light shone on some of those issues. So I guess to put it in a sentence I’ve learnt “if you don’t ask you don’t get”. It seems like such a simple concept but it still needs to be learnt somewhere along the line.
You blend a number of genres in your music, from electronic-influenced dance to indie-folk. Why is it important to you to try to not put yourself in a box in regards to genres?
I don’t think it’s about not wanting to be boxed into something specific. Just like my handwriting, my “musical handwriting” seems to change depending on the day and my mood. My laptop is full of a variety of different songs I have made, lots of them dipping into other genres. The ones that come from a genuine place in my heart are more often than not the ones that stand out to me and those are the ones I record. It sounds so up in the air but I also let the songs go in the direction that they want to go. I don’t force a certain sound into a song that it’s not suited to. So it’s not that it’s important to me to not be boxed into a specific genre, it’s more that I try to make stuff that Is true to me. At the end of the day whatever the song ends up sounding like I have to ask myself does this sound like me? If the answer is yes and I like it, I run with it. If the answer is no then I scrap it.
You’re always incredibly vulnerable and honest in your songwriting, is that something that comes naturally to you? Has there ever been a moment where you hesitate to release something?
Thank you for saying that! I am an over-sharer for sure. I’ve never had a problem with being open, honest and vulnerable to people. That’s just the way I am, and again the songs that are true to me seem to be the ones that I feel are worth putting out. I think in a world that is obsessed with putting up a perfect image of oneself on social media, people are now craving honesty. I definitely am, so there’s just no way I can let myself write a piece of music that isn’t truthful to my feelings at the time, even if that means giving up a part of myself in the song. The only hesitation I’ve had with releasing something stems from self-doubt. You know, is this song good enough? Can it be better? Those kinds of things. I don’t have much hesitation in letting people know how I truly feel. Also, I think you can get away with brutal honesty when it’s sung. For some reason, people don’t take it as matter of factly when it’s surrounded by music, so I figure just say it.
You’re from Zimbabwe — how has living there shaped you as an artist?
Zimbabwe is one of those places that’s hard to describe the living conditions unless you have lived them. It’s a tough unruly place, yet it’s filled with the most amazing people and boasts breathtaking scenery. I think the resilience that the people here show has influenced me and provided me strength in times when I just wanted to give up. The life lessons I have experienced here will always be deeply rooted in my music and my attitude to my career.
Your visuals are incredibly powerful and really stunning. Are visuals something you come up with or think about when you’re writing your songs or is it something that you determine after?
One of my writing process habits is to play what I’m working on over the visuals of some of my favourite music videos. This just gives me a point of reference as to how the song would feel in relation to imagery. This little trick has helped me hear the songs differently but has never shaped a song. If I was to come up with a visual idea it would come after the songwriting process or at least after the initial draft. I just think that would be too much to think about when writing music. For me the music needs to be right first and foremost, then the visual aspect can be worked around the song. This is why the production house “Obscura Films” have been so wonderful. They have a grasp on what my music is all about and have done an amazing job of translating that into a visual brand.
If there were three artists you’d like to collaborate with, who would they be and why?
Bongeziwe Mabandla. He’s is creating such one of a kind music at the moment. I’d love to be a part of his story in some way. He is certainly doing Africa Proud. Maggie Rogers. I just love her music, and if a may say so, I think I would sound quite nice on a second verse of one of her songs. She is true to herself and I love that. Balthazar. These guys just make me feel like such a badass when I listen to their stuff. It’s so well written and their production quality is next level. They are quite experimental and don’t seem to play by the rules. To be honest, I’d just love to see their writing process and get an insight as to how they make the weird and wonderful things that they do.
After someone is done listening to your music, what do you hope they feel?
I don’t particularly mind what they feel, as long as they feel something. That’s the beauty of music, to one person a song can mean one thing and to another, it can mean something else entirely. I think if I had to pinpoint something specific though, I would hope that the music in some way helps a person deal with an emotion or situation in their life. Even if it’s for a brief moment of escape whilst the song is playing. I think that would make me incredibly happy if my work was facilitating an experience like that.
So Kindly’s new song “Send Me A Sign” is out now. Follow So Kindly at @sokindlymusic.