One Thursday afternoon a few weeks ago, Kendra invited me to join her and her producer / co-writer, Jeremy Page, at his studio in Bushwick where they write and collaborate on music. I had photographed Kendra in her home (the place where many of her ideas originate) but this studio is an integral part of her creative process.
She keeps dozens of journals with song ideas and lyrics (a habit she formed ever since she started journaling at the age of 13), and in these journals she often writes out ideas for a song, edits them, writes out new ones, and then copies over the refined song on a fresh page. She brings these ideas to Jeremy and, together with his help, they flesh out the music and create the soulful and sultry sound that she is known for.
When I asked Kendra how she started working with Jeremy, she shared that she came across his production from another musician (a friend and patron of the Library Bar where she used to work). When she heard his sound, she knew she wanted to work with him. And so she did. For the last 9 years, Kendra and Jeremy have kept a steady weekly writing session, finding in each other a perfect balance of sounds and artistic aesthetic. It is here in this studio, the basement apartment of a townhouse in Bushwick, that they truly get to create.
When I walked in, Kendra and Jeremy were in the process of tracking a newly written song that was dedicated to a good friend of theirs who had passed away suddenly. They had written the song over the course of a single session just two days after they found out about their friend’s death. They had both cried as they wrote it.
Kendra walked inside the vocal booth and I followed. They were going to do a few runs so I knew I had some time to photograph before the camera shutter clicking had to stop. This was my first time inside the booth while someone was singing (for obvious reasons, most of the time you try to avoid extra sounds). I crammed myself into a corner, only 2 feet away from Kendra, and waited. She had headphones on but I couldn’t hear the music. I could only hear the sound of her voice.
While Kendra is in the booth, Jeremy is behind the board, giving suggestions and guiding the takes until they know they have it. He has expertly arranged the song so that the process is seamless. It’s a unique collaboration and one that I imagine is not very easy to find.
The thing about Kendra is that, when she sings, is she gives it her absolute freaking all. Her entire body is activated and she uses it to help convey the precise emotion needed in that part of the song. It’s incredibly entrancing to watch and you can feel the energy flow from her core, through her hands and out of her voice.
How incredible to be a witness to the moment of creation! To see two artists interweave their craft and create beautiful music together. Loved every minute of it.