KESHO (pronounced 'kay-sho') is 22 year old Kenyan born Connor Daniel, an artist whose music knows no boundaries. The name means 'Tomorrow' in Swahili, as KESHO is out to be the sound of the future. Bringing together dance, electronica and R&B, the sound is a vibrant fusion that takes up today’s post-genre challenge to create soul-infused, modern pop equally at home on radio or the dancefloor.
“The mix of weird sounds which you can do now in pop really excites me,” says Connor (vocalist, songwriter and producer). “Pop production now is the most exciting I’ve ever heard it.” Connor has been making music since his early teens, when he began uploading unofficial Dubstep mixes of Drake and Usher to YouTube. He now describes the tracks as “awful”, but they showed impressive studio skills for the then 14 year-old, clocking up 2 million plays, and later, earning him a feature on BBC Introducing.
It turned out he had his sights set well beyond the Dubstep scene. Born in Kenya, Connor spent his early years in the coastal city of Mombasa before his parents moved to the UK when he was six. “My mum’s family have been in Kenya for generations,” he says. “I’m proud of my Kenyan roots, for sure. I have tattoos to prove it!” His parents also encouraged an early musical flair. “There’s videos of me when I was four years old dancing to the beat of a Michael Jackson song,” he laughs. Later he developed into a gifted pianist, with a soulful vocal delivery that elevated early efforts at writing pop songs to echo those he was hearing on the radio.
“I was trying to do really experimental, underground, future bass hip hop stuff,” he laughs. “But from there I discovered that you can mix all of that into pop music, which is more what I'm pushing towards now.”
Currently holed up in his studio where he's constantly creating new material, KESHO is rapidly evolving beyond an experimental studio project. Attention-grabbing new songs such as M.I.N.M., Riddle and Thirsty show ambition, updating contemporary RnB with neon-tinged synthpop and global beats in a way reminiscent of breakout acts such as Bondax and Mura Masa (“a huge inspiration, production-wise” says Connor).
He insists there’s much more to come – he has hundreds of melody lines and vocal fragments recorded on his phone. He’s also still restlessly seeking out inspiration from unlikely sources, whether it be his mum (she recently clued him into Disco maestro George Benson) or Justin Timberlake. “Songwriting and vocal-wise, I love Justin Timberlake,” he says. “People say to me, Is he a guilty pleasure? But there’s nothing guilty about me loving Justin Timberlake!”.
With ideas flowing so fast, it’s not surprising KESHO is eager to get out on the road and test the songs on live audiences, but for all the stylish sophistication of his new material, Connor says his aim remains the same as when he played student clubs at Uni: to make people dance. “Put me on a stage in front of a crowd,” he grins, “and I think I can do the rest.”
The word is out: KESHO is on a mission to liberate your mind, body and soul.