DANCING DOWN THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Picture courtesy of Kenyth Mogan
Words by Tue Elkjær
We’ve been DM’ing musician Kenyth Mogan after we fell over his IG profile & started sharing likes with the dude (he may work in audio, but he makes a gorgeous visual too). Our chat ended up being way more meaningful than a mere interview, it ended up being an actual conversation. We talked to Kenyth about his recent release, his previous music videos, childhood, tackling the darkness & his relationship to the Tin Man. To get insight into Kenyth’s inspiring & fascinating universe, just read on & take notes!
From your IG posts, I can see your favorite movie is ‘The Wizard of Oz’. What is it you like about it?
There are so many things!
When I was a child, growing up on the prairie in northeastern Montana… I totally understood the desire to see big cities, big mountains, big oceans. I related to Dorothy’s desire for adventure. As an adult, I still have that desire for adventure, but also – who wouldn’t want to live in a world with talking scarecrows, walking tin men, and big gay lions?
Lol, so are you sure the lion is gay?
Lol, no, but I heard John Waters say it once and I thought it was fabulous lol
How many times do you think you’ve seen ‘The Wizard of Oz’?
Hmmmm. Probably at least 100 times. Maybe even 2.
According to your IG, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was also the inspiration for your music video for ‘Unlock Your Heart’, but how does ‘The Wizard of Oz’ & the Tin Man relate to the lyrics in your song?
In the book, the Tin Man, under a spell, cuts off his limbs one by one until he’s made of Tin. In the musical Wicked, he’s turned to tin by a spell by the witch of the east because didn’t love her. We combined those two stories for the music video.
Screenshot of ‘Unlock Your Heart’ video on YouTube
Uh, that actually explains another question I had.
Because in the music video, you turn the Tin Man into, what looks like, Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s creation from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and I didn’t really get that part. But, why did you use a chainsaw to do it – talk us through your process?
Well, in the video we kind of wanted to tell the story in reverse – freeing him from his prison of tin so I could open his heart and he would love me. The chainsaw is supposed to be a magic chainsaw ‘o love
Screenshot of ‘Unlock Your Heart’ video on YouTube
Okay, Kenyth. Super safe space (that will be published later), level with us, are you or have you ever been in love with the Tin Man? Or are you more in to the big gay lion you mentioned earlier?
I’ve had love affairs with both types. I love a man who’s strong and confident in who they are, but I also like a man who has some chest hair.
So a guy doesn’t have to be made of tin for you to be interested? I’m sure a lot of readers will happy to hear it!
Hahaha, no! As long as they have a kind heart and an adventurous spirit, I’ll be interested lol
Going back to your music. You’ve just released a new song (or do the cool kids call it a track) ‘Holy Water’. Tell us about it, why did you choose such a…’catholic’ title for your song (or was it track)?
I didn’t write Holy Water. It was actually written by this amazing songwriter/producer named Tim Feehan and pop-music icon Tiffany. The song is about a loved one struggling with addiction, Holy Water is the metaphor. It’s something they need to survive, something sacred to them – like Holy Water – which you’re right is very Catholic lol.
Wow, heavy & yet poetic. Do you have a connection to that theme or what made you want to record it?
Tiffany and I have crossed paths several times throughout the years. She’s one of the kindest and most amazing people I’ve ever met. I first her the demo for Holy Water a few years ago and fell in love with it. I was dating someone at the time who was struggling with a meth addiction, so I related to it. When Tiffany didn’t release it, I asked if I could. I couldn’t be more thankful that she and Tim allowed me to record it.
It seems like a transitional work for you, I mean, to me it’s quite a different style, than a lot of your other works. Are you headed in a new artistic direction?
I was going to. I wanted to something more mature and less cartoonish, but then I got licensing to a property that I’ve adored since childhood and while the sound is going to be more intricate, it will still be fun and traditionally poppy.
I’ve noticed you often refer to sexuality, both in your lyrics, your music videos, working a lot with media linked to the LGBTQ-community & in your self presentations on IG. Why is that, why is your sexuality & sexuality in general such recurring themes for you in your work? Why do I need to know about your sexuality?
Because, so many people are still afraid to live their truth. I’m not. While my sexuality is only a small piece of who I am, I’ve been aware of it my entire life. I’ve never been ashamed of it, or made to feel like I should hide it. But other’s are. Men have lived their entire lives in the closet, denying themselves the simple pleasures everyone should be allowed. It’s sad. When I was a child, music was a way for me to escape. It allowed me to live out adventures and experiences I could never have. I want to be that for someone else.
Escape from what exactly? And to where? To Oz?
My childhood, wasn’t always the happiest. I was the strange little gay kid obsessed with fantasy books and cartoons like Rainbow Brite. Raised by butch, masculine manly men, I was just kind of the oddball left out. So I would disappear with my Walkman, a couple of cassette tapes, and several books. Oz was one of the worlds I would escape too, as was Wonderland, and Narnia.
Do you think that’s why your taste in partners can’t be defined by Tin Men or Lions, but by qualities like kind hearts & spirit?
I think that’s part of it yes. Kindness is very important to me.
You can be the most beautiful man on the plant, but if your heart is black and filled with hate I have no interest in you.
Picture courtesy of Kenyth Mogan
Are you still that kid, wishing to be somewhere else?
Sometimes, but only when the darkness of the world makes me feel hopeless.
What brings on the darkness? Is it like Holly Golightly & the mean reds, where suddenly you’re afraid, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of?
There’s so much hate in the world right now. Racism, homophobia, anti-semitism, it’s so sad.
Going back to your IG activity, before I actually experience human emotions – You use very sexually charged hashtags like #instagay #outartist #sexy & sometimes even the hashtag #fuck, what do you hope to achieve with those particular hashtags? Is it a distraction from the darkness? To fight homophobia?
In a way, but also because those hashtags are some the most popular, and in this business, popularity is important. I am also a sex positive. I am not afraid or ashamed of sex, in all its forms (so long as it’s between consensual adults).
We are a fashion mag, so I’d like to know more about your attitude towards your own body & looks. How do you feel about your physical appearance, do you worry about your looks & work on how you visually represent yourself?
I do. Especially being an out artist. I’ve lost a bit of weight since the Unlock Your Heart video and one of my goals for this year is to get in better shape (I want my six pack back). This year I also want to partner with some fashion brands and photographers. Get artsy.
Uh, artsy in what way? What kind of style?
Artsy but fun. Something kind of like Netta Barzilai. She’s so interesting – and Björk.
Are those your biggest style inspirations?
They’re definitely artistic and musical inspirations. So is Sam Smith and Prince, Shawn Mendes, George Michael, Janelle Monet.
When I go through your IG page, it seems very clear, that you’ve gone through quite a physical transformation. You look very different in your recent selfies, than in your selfies from a year ago, when you first started posting. Is the transformation a conscious one, that you’ve been working to achieve this change in appearance or is it just part of a random process of living …or is the transformation in the eye of the beholder & I’m just reading something into it because I have an article to publish???
Hahaha! The change is intentional. I’m trying to better my body, expand my brand, and introduce my music to a whole new arena of listeners.
Oh right, with the aforementioned six pack.
What do you think constitutes good style? Is it the six pack?
No. Confidence in who you are and how you look. In the 80s Belinda Carlisle became a sort of fashion icon because she literally wore a dress made from a trash bag. In almost the same breath she was called fat. She wasn’t. She was (and is) beautiful. She was just confident in who she was.
I want to tone my body, not because it will help my music – if I have to use my body to sell my music, I have no business making music, but because I want to be back to being that healthy again.
So good style is defined by confidence & health?
I would say it’s defined by confidence period. Belinda made the trash bag iconic, not because it was the fiercest piece of clothing, but because she was fierce as fuck wearing it.
Gaga made a meat dress iconic. Why? Because she was confident in herself and her ability to rock the hell out of it.
We’ve been a bit all over, but what about you? What do you hope for in your future, what is your current, optimal life goal?
To finish the album, travel (I will hopefully be touring this summer), and… is it corny to say I hope I fall in love at least once in 2019.
Not at all, love is always a good aspiration. As Liza sings in ‘Cabaret’; maybe this time.