Friday night, local singer-songwriter Mo Kenney performed alongside Symphony Nova Scotia as part of the Halifax Pop Explosion festival, resulting in a spectacular show. The combination of her honest, powerful lyrics and warm voice with the vibrancy of the orchestra left the audience with a unique experience and wanting more.
Ahead of her Oct. 21 performance with Symphony NS, Kenney spoke with the Watch to discuss her preparation leading up to it, which actually began months before last night.
“There is a lot of preparation that goes into it because you have to get someone to chart your songs for you, so they can actually play it with you,” Kenney stated. “There’s a bunch of rehearsals that have to happen before the actual show and it’s just like a completely different experience even than, like, playing a band.”
Some of the songs performed included her own ‘I Faked It’, ‘Deja Vu’ and ‘In My Dreams’, as well as covers of David Bowie and Radiohead.
It might initially seem unnatural to combine the musical styles of the two, but Mo Kenney and Symphony NS were impeccably harmonized and complementary to each other. They produced a unique sound that emphasized Kenney’s lyrical strength.
“I think a lot of people because I’m from Halifax have probably heard my music before, but not necessarily with an orchestra backing, so I think it’ll just be really cool to have songs that people have already heard before, but with a symphony behind it. It makes them way more dramatic,” she said before her performance.
Kenney grew up around Halifax and found inspiration at a young age from the soundtracks of movies.
“That’s how I found out about new bands and stuff when I was a teenager: from watching movies. My favourite movie is ‘The Royal Tenenbaums”, I would like to write a soundtrack for that movie, but the existing soundtrack is already too awesome, it would be too weird for me to do that.”
The talented musician has previously been recognized for her undeniable talent; since 2015 alone she has won 11 awards and multiple nominations, including for the 2016 ‘ECMA Video of the Year’ award. Since releasing her first self-titled album in 2012, Kenney has been continuously writing and touring in multiple countries. Although Halifax and Dartmouth are her favourite places, she described a festival in Australia as a musician’s dream.
“It’s like you’re camping and everyone is so nice; everyone shows up to all the shows and they know who you are, and I just had a really pleasant experience. One of the coolest things about being a musician is getting to tour around and see other musicians playing, and meet them and hang out with them and stuff.”
Noting the vibrant music scene in Halifax, Kenney’s advice to local musicians and bands is: “I guess just play as much as you can and write as much as you can. I find trying not to get too much into a routine is helpful, like doing things I normally wouldn’t do.”
After last night’s performance, Kenney has only one show left this year but is far from slowing down. She is currently in the process of writing more music, so old fans and new fans alike can rejoice in the anticipation of whatever new music is to come from this bright and unique artist.