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In Conversation: How Kaycee Brown Is Embracing His Identity Through Music

In Conversation: How Kaycee Brown Is Embracing His Identity Through Music

Kaycee Brown

“What I am trying to do with music is to push my sound to the mainstream, and make Kaycee Brown a staple in the music industry. I have never felt complete doing any other thing but I feel complete whenever I am doing music” – Kaycee Brown

By Hope Ibiale

The first time Kaycee Brown entered a studio, he was a student at Delta State University in Southern Nigeria. Despite having just gone through a traumatic experience, he recorded the song “Stand Up”, which became a hit on campus. This success reignited his passion for music, leading him to release tracks like “Waiting For You” in 2019, and the 2020 record “Desire”, which won a music competition. During this period, he balanced a day job at a bank with night performances at music shows, all while preparing his debut EP, All Or Nothing, which was released this year.

“My name is Kaycee Brown” was a statement I heard repeatedly during my interview with him. It wasn’t just a mere introduction; the boldness and confidence in his voice made it clear that this artiste knew exactly who he was. This isn’t a phase of self-discovery for him; he has a solid sense of identity. Perhaps, this self-assuredness was nurtured by his mother’s reassurance that music was in his blood. 

Whatever the reason, Brown’s musical journey is not one you hear about every day. From screaming his lungs out to learning how to sing, almost being lynched for theft, to balancing a bank job while pursuing music, his story inspires one to pursue their dreams relentlessly. In this interview with Afrocritik, the artiste discusses his musical journey, creative process, influences, future plans, amongst others.

For most of our vast readers meeting you for the first time, can you introduce yourself? Who is Kaycee Brown?

My name is Kingsley, but I go by Kaycee Brown as an artiste. I am from Abia State, though I was born and have lived my entire life in Lagos. I attended Delta State University, and after completing my NYSC service, I began working in a bank, where I stayed for five years. Throughout this time, my passion for music never waned. My mother always believed that music was in my blood but advised me to study something else to have an alternative career. During my university days, I was known as the ‘shouting guy’ because I often practiced singing loudly in the hostel, believing that mimicking the artistes I admired would help develop my voice. 

My break came when a fellow student, who was a rapper, chose me to join him in the studio to record a song for an upcoming concert. I used my accommodation fee to pay for the session, resulting in having to squat for a semester. During that time, I faced a near-death experience when I was mistakenly accused of theft. Ultimately, we recorded “Stand Up”, which became a hit at school.

While working at the bank, I aimed to save money for studio sessions, hoping to get signed. When that didn’t happen, I realised I had to create my own opportunities. My turning point was attending the Industry Nite show. I met Olisa Adibua who introduced me to someone I could speak to if I ever wanted to perform at the event. In 2020, I went viral when I performed “Desire” in Stefflondon’s live music competition, which I won, earning £500. 

This victory affirmed my career path. Before this, I was still exploring my sound, but winning the competition motivated me to listen to more Nigerian music and start writing to those beats. I named my debut EP All Or Nothing because the project felt like a do-or-die situation, where I invested half of my resources into it. 

Music has always been central to my identity. My name is Kaycee Brown and this is my sound. The EP is a statement of my sound, my state of mind, and what I am trying to accomplish. I am not here to copy what others have done nor am I here to invent a third wheel. What I am trying to do with music is to push my sound to the mainstream, and make Kaycee Brown a staple in the music industry. I have never felt complete doing any other thing but I feel complete whenever I am doing music

Kaycee Brown
Kaycee Brown

What influenced your decision to pursue music?

My mom influenced my decision to pursue music, but before that, I discovered my first talent was songwriting. I realised this when I started writing love songs for a girl I had a crush on. While my mom played a significant role in influencing my choice, she is not the sole reason I decided to pursue a career in music. I have my own drive and passion for wanting to do music.

Your decision to venture into music may have been influenced by your aspirations, but I’m curious about your biggest musical influences and how they have shaped your sound.

I would say Chris Brown has influenced me a lot because many of my vocal runs sound like his. It hasn’t replaced my unique sound, but since I listened to him extensively while learning how to sing, you could hear the similarities in my style. Brandy also played a significant role in shaping how I harmonize. Additionally, I have a deep appreciation for Wande Coal. His album, Mushin 2 Mohits, was the first album I ever bought, and I played it constantly. The reason I love Wande Coal is that I could connect with his music. 

You recently released your debut EP, All or Nothing. What was that experience like for you? How has the reception been? 

I was tired of the album at that time because I had been listening to it repeatedly. I was also terrified because I was telling people to listen to six songs. 

All or Nothing is centred around love and in a recent tweet, you described the project as a statement. Was the project targeted at a real life love interest or was it inspired by a previous relationship?

Some tracks on the EP were inspired by women. “Miles” was inspired by a love interest who moved abroad. “Location” came about after I ended a relationship and left Lagos to find myself. In that song, I was telling my ex that I would always be there for her, regardless of our relationship status. Women will always inspire my songs because that’s the type of person I am.

All or Nothing
All or Nothing

Some artistes sit in dark rooms to write or wait for the producer to send a beat. Walk me through your music-making process.

My music-making process can start at any time. For instance, I might be listening to a new song from another artiste, and the beat could inspire me to write or record a song. When I was working at the bank, inspiration would strike, and I would sometimes ask customers to wait so I could record an idea on my phone. The beats are built around the song that way I have direct producer control. 

Have you ever encountered creative blocks while making music? How have you navigated them? How do you stay motivated to create new music?

Whenever I encounter creative blocks, I step away from the song. I stop listening to it and engage in other activities. If that doesn’t help, I restart the music-making process. Most times, the missing piece of the record eventually comes to me. For instance, I once wrote a song and left the second verse blank, intending for another artiste to collaborate on it. When that collaboration fell through, writing the second verse became challenging. However, one day, while heading home, the exact beat of the song played, and I started freestyling—the verse began to come together.

What keeps me motivated to create music despite the challenges is the hope and belief that I will make it out of the hood one day. I know I’m not delusional because I can see the numbers and the positive feedback from people. As an artiste, if you’re good at what you do, the universe will show you signs.

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At the moment, Afrobeats and Amapiano are some of the genres at the forefront of the music industry. Do you feel pressured to lean towards these genres? 

If I write a song on an Amapiano beat, it’s because someone sent me the beat and I liked the melody. I have never been concerned about changing my sound. I don’t follow the crowd because I prefer to be my own person.

Kaycee Brown
Kaycee Brown

If you could pick an artiste to work with on a future project, which artistes would you pick? 

At a point in my career, I’d like to do a collaborative project with Chris Brown and Brandy. I’d like to work with Bloody Civilian, Ayra Starr, Tems, Wande Coal, Fireboy DML, Joeboy, Oxlade, and Burna Boy.

The music industry is notoriously difficult to break into. What advice would you give to aspiring artists hoping to succeed in this field? What’s the first thing you’d say to them?

The first thing I’d suggest is to eliminate the mentality that someone else is coming to help you. New artistes need to network and connect with industry professionals. Learn to handle certain tasks independently and understand how the industry operates.

Several African artistes have performed on some of the biggest stages this year. If you could perform at any venue or festival in the world, where would it be?

I want to be everywhere but if I had to choose, I’d pick the O2 arena. 

What’s next for Kaycee Brown?

I am working on my next project. First an EP, then an album. After seeing what my mini tour in Unilag did, I’d love to do a school tour or other places that are feasible. I am open to more opportunities. 

Hope Ibiale is a writer and journalist. She has a keen interest in music, film, and literature. You can connect with Hope on X @hopeibiale and via email: 

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