Kenzie Cates was born and raised in Kamloops, British-Columbia. Showing an aptitude for music at a young age, she received a full-ride scholarship to KISSM, where she wrote and recorded her first song when she was 11. At 15, she teamed up with local producer and musician Kris Ruston and recorded “Either Way,” releasing it on SoundCloud for friends and family. Through word of mouth, the track spread, racking up thousands of plays and leading to it being picked up by a local radio station 97.5 The River.
In 2015, she recorded “Black Magic” with Hauschild. Thanks to FACTOR’s generous support she released it in 2018 to positive reviews, receiving considerable airplay on CBC across the country and Stingray Digital Canadian Indie channel.
Encouraged by the success of Black Magic, she applied and was selected to participate in Judy Stakee’s songwriting retreat in Nashville in March 2020, as well as Andrew Allen’s masterclass through the Songwriter’s Association of Canada in May 2020.
She recently released her latest single “Just Ain’t You” and we had the opportunity to chat with Kenzie about finding inspiration, what she’s learned along the way, and what’s next.
Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest single “Just Ain’t You”?
Kenzie: Absolutely! I was going on lots of Tinder dates because I’d just gotten out of a relationship (my boyfriend broke up with me to become a monk—true story) and I decided I was ready to start dating again. I went out with this one guy and it was fine, and we agreed to see each other again, but in the meantime I met somebody else who blew me away with how considerate and kind he was. It made me realize how inconsiderate some of the other people I’d dated in the past had been, and made me be like, “wtf am I doing? Why am I dating people who don’t treat me right?” And made me ask myself some big questions about the kind of love I was willing to accept. This song is about dating one guy and wishing I were dating another guy, but it’s also about self-respect committing to being more discerning about who I let in.
Kat: What do you hope fans take from the track?
Kenzie: I hope that the song encourages people to set and maintain boundaries regarding the kind of treatment they will and won’t accept, both in and outside of a dating context. It’s my own take on TLC’s “No Scrubs” policy.
Kat: What do you find is the most challenging part of your creative process?
Kenzie: I think that sometimes I stop ideas before they even really start because I am worried whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough (though I couldn’t tell you who for). That can be kind of stifling sometimes and it takes conscious effort to overcome. I deal with it by promising myself that I won’t show anybody a song that I’m writing. Falsely promising myself privacy often does the trick.
Kat: What has been a career highlight for you so far? What have you learned along the way?
Kenzie: Working with Ryan Stewart to write and demo the latest single is something I wanted to do for years and finally getting into the studio with him was definitely a highlight. He’s done pretty amazing work for people like Carly Rae Jepsen, Carys, Mike Ruby, and other artists who are doing fun and cool things right now, and it felt very cool being in such good company, client-wise. Something I’ve learned along the way is to have fun. I take things way too seriously sometimes but it’s hard to make good music (and to have people want to make music with you) if you aren’t being playful when you’re writing. It’s enough to just make things you like, and release things you like in case other people like it too. It can be simple.
Kat: What’s next?
Kenzie: The usual post-debut stuff for independent artists—private jets, sold-out stadiums, starting my own harem (just kidding). I have two other songs ready for release and I’m making three demos over the next week. I’m planning to release at least two songs before the year is out. The other half of what’s next isn’t up to me!
To connect with Kenzie Cates visit: https://www.kenziecates.com