A chat with Mo Kenney, one of Canada’s finest artists performing at Australian Music Week

It’s always a special feeling seeing a touring act play a bar when you know they’re packing out 1000 plus capacity venues back in their home country. This will the case for Mo Kenney, who is set to duck into Sydney to showcase her talents this week.

Her third album The Details traces the highs and lows of her life to date, from the booze-riddled late nights to the broken relationship. It’s transparent and beguiling songwriting at its best; safe to say even newcomers to Kenney’s sound will be holding back tears during her performance.

Before she checks into Australian Music Week’s Made In Canada Showcase, we took five for a chat.

mo kenney australian music week made in canada showcase

“As an artist that’s what I aim to do – connect”: We sit down with Halifax songwriter Mo Kenney ahead of a special Australian show.

HAPPY: Hey Mo, how are you? What have you been up to since releasing The Details last year?

MO KENNEY: Hello! I’m doing well, thanks. Since I released The Details last year I’ve been doing a lot of touring. Lately I’ve been working on some new music, trying to get some songs written in between tours.

HAPPY: This album is quite personal in nature. Do you feel like you invite strangers in to listen to intimate details about yourself, or is music just another way of creating art that draws from different areas of your life?

MO KENNEY: The album is personal, but not every detail (pardon the pun) is necessarily personal. I draw influence from things that happen in my life and write about them, but things can deviate from actual events during the process. That’s just how I create!

HAPPY: Are you hoping that others will find comfort in what you sing about, or for them to see things from a different perspective?

MO KENNEY: I always hope that people can find some aspect of what I sing about and relate to their own lives. As an artist that’s what I aim to do – connect.

HAPPY: Your friend Joel Plaskett produced the album and co-wrote Unglued with you. What is it like working with friends on music? Was the experience different this time?

MO KENNEY: I actually co-produced The Details with Joel. This was our first time collaborating on a production level, and I’m sure the next time we get into the studio we’ll collaborate again. Joel is someone I’ve always looked up to as an artist, and I respect his opinions and trust his judgement musically. We’ve formed a great friendship through collaborating together and I can’t see that ending any time soon.

HAPPY: You’re from Halifax – how did your upbringing influence you musically and/or lyrically?

MO KENNEY: Growing up in the Halifax area felt great musically. I was always meeting new people who played instruments, and there was no shortage of other people to jam with. It wasn’t until I started working with Joel and playing regular gigs that I was introduced to people in the NS music industry. Loads of very talented humans, lots of whom I have written with in the past.

HAPPY: Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists at the moment that you think we should give a listen to?

MO KENNEY: Kim Harris, Port Cities, Hello Delaware, Stewart Legere… all great artists from the East Coast.

HAPPY: Some artists find writing lyrics to be a burden, others hole themselves up in their room until they’ve fleshed some songs out, and some bands just work in studios all day – how do you approach songwriting?

MO KENNEY: I definitely hole up in my apartment to write. I like spending days writing and demoing new tunes. Creating is my favourite part!

HAPPY:  You’ve been compared to Norah Jones, how did that comparison strike you the first time you heard it?

MO KENNEY: Ha I don’t know if I’ve heard that comparison! A compliment for sure.

HAPPY: What does the upcoming year look like for you?

MO KENNEY: Hopefully going to get some more writing done when I have some downtime in December. Maybe some recording early in the new year!

HAPPY: Thanks for the chat!

MO KENNEY: Thanks!


Australian Music Week’s Made In Canada Showcase takes place on Thursday 8 November at The Brass Monkey in Cronulla, kicking off at 4:30pm. Grab your tickets here.


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Mo Kenney
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