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After a long wait, London-based singer songwriter Kenzie TTH is back. Her newest EP, We Stayed Too Long, is a collection of six songs that showcase her lyrical prowess, exploring the feeling of moving on and how to find closure in the things we can’t control. In this interview, she discusses grief, resolution and growth, as well as who she is when no one is watching – that is, her true self.

It’s been a while since your debut EP came out, Dark July was released in 2018, how has your music grown since then?
It’s like when you see someone every day and you don’t notice how their face changes, but then when you look back at an old photo of them, you’re like “Oh my god you’ve changed so much!” – that’s how I feel about my music. I’m constantly writing, and I’d like to think that I’m constantly evolving. The content hasn’t changed – I’m still writing about personal relationships, life and love – but I’d like to think that my songwriting has grown. I was also able to work with Leon Vynehall on this EP. He’s so talented and inspiring to work with I think he really brought out a new side of me and allowed me to explore some ideas that I have maybe been unsure about in the past.
And how have you grown?
Oh my gosh, Dark July was released in 2018. There’s been a pandemic since then – this little thing called Covid-19 – and so much has changed. My way of dealing with things has changed a lot, which has had a big effect on my work and what I create. So many things have happened in my life, to me it’s almost not quantifiable. I’m definitely older. I’d like to think that I’m wiser. This EP also feels like this more resolute version of myself, who is trying to radically accept the things that are out of control in life and have more clarity.
Your EP is titled We Stayed Too Long. What do you think are the consequences of staying stuck in a phase for too long?
I’m the worst at feeling stuck. It’s possibly the scariest and most uninspiring feeling ever. To me, nothing good can come from staying too long. You know when you’re at a house party – it’s like 4am, you probably should have left 2 hours ago, the music sucks now, someone’s passed out in the corner – and you’re just like “I should’ve gotten out while it was still good.” For so many things in life – in relationships, in ways of thinking, in belief systems – it’s really difficult to say “This is the peak. I should enjoy this and then I should get the fuck out.” I talk with other creatives so much about this idea of momentum. I was listening to a podcast with director Caveh Zahedi and he said something like “Follow the momentum. Momentum is God speaking to you” and now I can’t get that out of my head.

You’ve said that your latest EP is about “finding closure around the way we are, the way we were, and the way we want to be.” Why do you think it’s important to find this closure?
I think there are many alternatives of how my life could go. I don’t like living with regret, I don’t think anyone does, and I don’t like feeling like “Oh, but what if…” or “Oh, but I could of…” It’s difficult to live your life without any sort of questioning around how things could have been different but finding acceptance in those things is so gratifying. If you’re able to find gratitude in putting something to bed, understanding that you don’t have control over the future and just focusing on the now and the current reality that you’re living, you’re doing yourself so many favours. My journey with radical acceptance is still a battle every day, but I think it’s important to have resolution around those things.
And how do you make yourself feel more resolute in your decisions?
I really try to understand which things are out of my control and if I can have acceptance around that, then the things within my control feel a lot easier. I’m very good at making my life difficult, so I have to keep telling myself that the opposite must also be true. I also love the serenity prayer, which I return to a lot. My mum has been quoting it since I can remember, and we use it in meetings for a story-sharing platform I run with my best friend Rosa called Sick Sad Girlz. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” I think the wisdom part is really important.
The music video for your song Driveway (Credits) depicts two people who part ways over and over again before they finally part ways one last time and accept this decision. Why do you think it’s so hard to move on?
If I knew the answer to that, I would probably be a lot happier and wouldn’t have stayed in the relationships for as long as I did. Patterns are comfortable – even if they are not healthy or useful, I think that because they’re known, it’s a lot easier to stay in that mess than going into a situation where you don’t know what’s waiting for you. It’s a nice distraction to be able to keep on replaying the same song over and over again rather than face what’s next.

Obviously, the closing of a chapter can be a sad experience. What advice do you have to give to those who are grieving the end of something?
Grief is a very powerful thing and I think there are a lot of different ways to grieve. I had a friend pass recently and I was kind of like “I’ve had experience with grief, so I should know what to do and how to handle this,” but it’s one of those things that is just never the same twice. I think you can learn to integrate individual cases of grief into your life, but it’s always a different experience.
There’s a song on the EP called When It’s Over, and it’s basically a set of instructions for myself. I wrote it a while back and when I returned to it, it completely applied to my situation – not because it was telling me exactly how to feel or what was going to happen, but because this set of instructions is just a really easy way to distract yourself and do the human things that make you feel good in a moment of feeling really bad
Let’s talk more about your song, Bonnie (B-Side). You’ve said that this song is about confronting how you see yourself versus who people expect you to be. How do you reconcile these two versions of yourself?
I really like the word ‘reconcile’ because I feel like that’s exactly what it is – this balance between two parts of yourself. I think everyone lives a double life to an extent and there are things that you don’t want to address in public, which is totally fine. I love the idea of transparency and some people are very good at being like “If I want to cry, I’m going cry on and everyone’s going to see it and have to be confronted by it,” but I don’t think that’s helpful for everyone. I’m just slowly starting to learn the not-so-shiny parts of myself that I want to share with other people, and I think that while vulnerability can be such a powerful thing, but it’s also scary. Whatever you have to do to live in reality again, to get through, is what you should be doing. It’s really important to know those not-so-shiny parts and the full scope of who I am because then it helps me figure out how to live in the wider world I think that to know yourself is to know life.

In the chorus, you say “You ain’t seen my B-Side” and you’ve also talked about understanding who we are when no one is watching. Why do you think it’s important for people to confront this ‘hidden side’ of themselves?
Again, I think it’s up to you to choose how you share it with other people. There are a lot of conversations at the moment that are like “Tell people exactly how you’re feeling” and “Let it all out.” I mean, you could do that, but I also try to recognise that I don’t have control over other people’s actions, I don’t have control over many of the infinite variables of life, but I can control how I move forward from that point. Through trying to understand yourself, you start to develop the tools of how you can operate and communicate your feelings and thoughts. At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you how you want to deal with that stuff – I’m not going to sit here and preach to anyone that they need to like, go to therapy.
Finally, who is Kenzie TTH when no one’s watching?
I’m a crybaby, I’m introspective, and I’m probably pretty weird. This idea of being able to be a fly on anyone’s wall and watch what they’re life is like when no one’s around is interesting – like, they’re probably boring when there isn’t someone to perform for. I’m probably just sleeping… but ‘introspective crybaby’ is definitely a t-shirt I need to get at some point.

Kerrie Liang
Cooper Roussel

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