While her parents would turn off Trace TV when she was a kid, the Congolese singer Kami Leonne still managed to spend hours tuned in. While that sparked her interest in music, it wasn’t until later that she decided to try it herself, “As an adult, I’d say The Weeknd was the artist that made me want to pursue music.”
Today, Kami Leonne is taking the foundations of R&B and marrying them with Trap in a way that is both sound and entertaining. We talked to her about her style, how the world around her influenced a recent release and more in this back and forth.
Kendra: You have this very modern R&B sound, but if you had to compare it to a Congolese-inspired dish – which would it be and why?
Kami Leonne: Oh my, that’s a good question. I feel as though my lyrics are raw and sometimes cryptic. My voice is gentle and sweet. The productions are melodic and can feel dark at times… I’m not sure I can give you an answer. All the Congolese dishes that come to mind are very rich and filling. That’s not a correct depiction of my sound.
Kendra: Fair enough! Let’s talk more about your music. I love that “OUH” is quintessential R&B with very sensual vibes throughout. Do you have to be in a certain mood when you go in and record a song with a vibe like that?
Kami Leonne: Not at all, haha. I was actually on my way out of the house when the idea hit me. The producer had sent me a beat pack and I was playing some beats in the background as I was getting ready to leave. When the beat for “OUH” came on, I thought it was so fire, I literally let out an “ouuuh.” You know that sound you make when you got your stank face on ‘cause the song slaps? Haha, that was it. I kept humming the “ouh” throughout the song and liked how it sounded. I quickly recorded the idea as a voice memo and when I came back to it, I completed the song in two days.
Kendra: Then there’s “You” which you dropped a few months ago. It has this line, “world’s going up in flames.” Was that inspired by the chaos that was 2020?
Kami Leonne: 100%. I had written “You” at a time when there was so much hurt and uncertainty in the world. California was burning, there had been explosions in Beirut and there were protests all over the country. To add to that, things were looking real shaky in my personal life. I thought, “damn, we’re all probably going to die and this guy still won’t talk to me.” A little dramatic, but it’s truly how I felt at the time.
Kendra: Which, speaking of…You’re living in Los Angeles, which is typically the place to be for music but with the pandemic live music and networking events haven’t been a viable option. Do you feel LA will recover and be the creative mecca it once was after all of this?
Kami Leonne: I think so. It won’t be tomorrow, but we’ll bounce back eventually.
Kendra: It’s hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Kami Leonne: I don’t like to speak on plans pre-maturely, but I can say that I’m just trying to level up: better songs, better visuals & more growth, God willing.