Today we’d like to introduce you to Kenan Bell.
Kenan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Born and raised in Southern California, I’ve spent the majority of my life exploring the greatest place in the world – The Greater Los Angeles area. (Born in Long Beach, grew up in Chino Hills, went to high school in Glendale and college in Pasadena) My mother moved from AL to LA when she was a little girl and my dad came here from the other LA (Louisiana) as a nineteen year old. Both of my parents grew up in the church; my father was a member of a traveling singing group called the Bell Singers, which included some of his siblings, that performed along the famous Bible Belt and my mother spent several years with the New Song choir, under the direction of Rose Stone, of Sly and The Family Stone.
Music has always been an instrumental part of ‘The Bell’ household, but so has art and science and language and math. I have fond memories of going to the theater as a kid to watch a play put on by an entirely Black ensemble. I remember Jane Kennedy was in the play and if you know who she is, you know she made a lasting impression. (Do your googles!) Time spent at the Pomona public library as well as all the LA County museums and its public parks & recreation facilities helped shape my growing mind. I am very grateful for the variety of cultures and communities I was exposed to as a child in LA and believe the hip hop, BMX/skate/surf, gang lifestyle & fashion reflected here at home, greatly influenced my world view.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The most trying and beneficial struggles were the creative battles I’ve had with myself, producers/engineers/bandmates or my business partner, Christina. Starting a candle business or a record label is never easy but after years of writing, producing, recording and marketing your own projects, you truly do learn quite a bit and realize how much you can do by yourself. DIY or DIE is the motto and also a way of life. I’ve learned to code, set design, sew, screenprint, and edit/produce music videos, all out of necessity. Another major struggle was learning to DJ in order to replace my incredibly talented band and still play live. I’ve realized, ‘The journey is equally as important as the destination‘. And adversity births all the freshest ideas so I’m grateful for my successes and shortcomings alike.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Stay Fresh ©️ story. Tell us more about the business.
Established in the late 2000’s, stay fresh©️ is a creative entity specializing in art direction + design and also includes a music division (stay fresh music) and a recently-added home goods division (stay fresh by Kenan Bell). Working alongside Anthony Sylvester (CUTSDATFLO) on visuals and providing art direction for clients like Channel Tres and IDK has added a new element to our portfolio. I am proud to be a Young Black man who has created an aesthetic based on classic inspirations and forward-thinking designs. Hoping for more balanced representation in the home goods department, stay fresh by kb takes an innovative and sustainable approach to candle making. We are proud to use safe, nontoxic 100% natural soy wax and recycled glass vessels, which are fully repurposable.
My music has been featured on BBC, MTV, IFC, CBS, LA Times, PLAYBOY, DAZED, CLASH, NME and others. Touring nationally with De La Soul for the 25th anniversary for 3 Feet High and Rising was a career highlight of mine as was opening for Diplo in UK and I was honored by being selected as VANS Custom Culture Ambassador 2012-2014.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I do not believe in luck but I do understand the importance of timing. When we had a chance to work with Dre, the timing was off. When Timbaland didn’t sign me to a production deal and instead stole our beat, it wasn’t my time. When I handed Pharrell my EP, it still wasn’t the right time. It has been said that I was “ahead of my time” and I feel the audience is more ready now than ever.
I did have my fair amount of “beginners luck” as within my first year of releasing music I had: toured the UK, been featured in Playboy, played live on BBC, and got a sponsorship from Lacoste and Nike. Lucky for me, the streak continued and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor.
- Stream my music EVERYWHERE !!!
- 4.4 oz $14 10 oz candle $28 Mini sampler trio $40
- Website: Kenanbell.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Instagram.com/kenansroom
- Twitter: Twitter.com/kenanbell
- Other: etsy.com/shop/stayfreshbykb
Zita Laura Szász, Anthony Sylvester, Christina Graci, Kenan Bell