Compton/LA-based singer-songwriter/producer Kessington Kross (formally known as “KES”) got his big break when industry legend Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds introduced him to industry veteran and Epic Records CEO L.A. Reid, who immediately signed him. As Complex Magazine puts it, “[Kessington] melds contemporary R&B with its ’80s equivalents—think Trey Songz if he were soundtracking a Don Johnson-era episode of Miami Vice.” Kessington’s debut mixtape, Audio Justice, arrives this month and his first single, “Gimme Your Luv,” will follow in 2014.Read more
Born in the city of dreams, Los Angeles, California, Kessington Kross is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of artist. As a singer, songwriter, and musician, Kessington’s family circumstances gave him an interesting perspective few have. The result is a fresh sound that breaks traditional genre molds and encompasses pieces of everything. From the East Indian influenced “Arabian Paradise” to the 80’s nostalgia of “Gimme Your Love,” the five songs on his introductory EP, Audio Justice, cover a lot of musical territory. It certainly shows that Kessington is a brave artist with something to say.
Spending the first half of his life in Orange County, Kessington’s family suffered a setback, causing his mother to uproot and relocate everyone to Compton, California. It was culture shock going from one extreme to the next, but he quickly adjusted and soon came to welcome the transition. He took it as a opportunity to experience and soak in a new culture. “I like to reflect on real life not just what is politically correct.” The wide disparity in haves and have-nots, in race, and in culture fueled Kessington’s imagination and became the context to his music.
“I’ve always been an all-or-nothing kind of guy,” says Kessington, “and living in Compton, coming from Orange County was a test of that.” Unable to leave any of his influences out of his music, Kessington worked harder to combine everything. From David Bowie, he took escapism and Bowie’s ability to create alter egos. When listening to Depeche Mode, he loved the industrial feel of the music, the haunting melodies and the unconventional drum patterns. Phil Collins had ethereal melodies and emotional lyrics, Rick James had an incomparable ghetto groove and vulgarity that explored the psyche of men, and Prince was just free of boundaries when it came to sexuality and image and also to his music and lyrical perspective. Kessington used the contrast of all these influences through his well-defined storytelling, his concepts and production, and through his pushing-the-envelope image and unique fashion sense.
For Kessington Kross, being a rogue spirit is in his DNA. Alternating between the rave, rock and hip-hop scenes, he is always searching for a sense of familiarity, with no place as off-limits in the chase to feel closer to real life society and pop culture.