“Legal Dreamers,” the latest single/music video from Kevens, blends elements of reggae, hip-hop, and dub horns into a beguiling, contagious earworm.
On “Legal Dreamers,” Miami singer-songwriter Kevens extends a hand of welcome to immigrants, travelers, and all those making their way in an unfamiliar land. He further encourages the fortunate to put aside their misgivings and greet migrants in the spirit of shared humanity. It’s a statement of radical love.
His kinetic performances have made him an in-demand attraction at genre-defying festivals like Florida Zen, One Love Japan, and Earthdance. At the same time, his deep understanding of Caribbean roots music has made him a favorite collaborator of the members of Jamaica’s first musical family: he’s collaborated with Stephen Marley and Damian “Jr. Gong,” and performed with many other island legends who recognize his knowledge, his integrity, and his imagination.
The animated video takes viewers around the world, juxtaposing dusty Township settlements and verdant jungle scenes with the high-rises of Europe and the crowded streets of Asian cities. But wherever the animation takes us, we’re shown beautiful faces of humans sharing a dream of a better life.
CelebMix caught up with Kevens to discover the inspiration for “Legal Dreamers,” how he got started in music, and his definition of tone.
What inspired your new single/music video, “Legal Dreamers?”
‘Legal Dreamers’ was a song that was in my archives for years. After I caught Covid and lost my voice, I started to retrain my vocal cords and was determined to put out my best.
I saw a story online about how a US Veteran got deported to Mexico; I decided to do a rewrite to the song right there and then.
How did you get started in music?
In high school, I picked up the trombone and loved it. I was inspired by Burning Spear’s horn lines ever since I was a child and said one day, ‘I’d like to play them.’ When I failed to get into the Air Force after graduation, I found myself spinning records at pool parties, weddings, etc. DJing other people’s music taught me about arrangements very early on. So, when I became a professional, that became a priority.
I have a page called ‘The Journey’ in the About section on kevens.com where you can read my history in more detail.
Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction?
I have been pushing the envelope for a while; I had a lot of failures, but I chose to never give up, no matter what.
How do you keep your sound fresh, and avoid falling into the trap of imitating either yourself or others?
I believe once you find your sound, it’s hard to change that dial no matter what. I appreciate other artists, old and new, who’ve stayed true to their crafts.
How do you keep your sound consistent on stage?
First, I make certain I work with the best musicians, those who can interpret my vision. There is a lot of prepping that goes into my shows before even the first band rehearsal.
Are there any special recording techniques you use in the studio?
I always chose to work with producers who are musicians themselves and know their way around the mixing board. It comes down to knowing what you want as a songwriter.
What is your definition of tone? And has your tone changed over time?
I very much like this question. My tone has evolved as I get to know myself better over the years. Many years ago, when I started to meditate, on my birthdays I would sit for hours at a time, get up to stretch my legs, then back on the sitting.
Almost 24 hours later into that meditation, I heard the tone of my heartbeat; it was the most magnificent thing I’ve experienced. I think after that experience, I was never the same musically; I evolved.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?
My inspiration comes from The Almighty. I pray before writing every single song.
What can you share about your writing process?
When there is a subject of interest, I automatically start to create the first line and put melody to it, then the second, and so on.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I had the great pleasure of meeting Iniko after her first Miami concert the other day. I was truly impressed by her performance and songs.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?
Right now, I am focusing on putting out the best music of my life and making sure all my fans hear me and make new ones in the process.
My band is in place, as always. I will come out to the stage when all is aligned, properly.