by Tate Kamish
“Soul movement and music is all I know.”
Kingsley Ibeneche is fresh on the Philly music scene, but is no stranger to the stage. Trained in dance, Kingsley received a degree in Ballet Performance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Kingsley was born and raised in Camden, NJ to parents originally from Nigeria. Living in Germany is where Kingsley realized how deeply he wanted to pursue singing and songwriting. You can catch him live at our FREE Spotlight Artist show with Taylor Kelly on 3/28!
What inspired you to pursue a degree in ballet? When did you decide to shift your focus from dancing to songwriting?
Well, I’ve always been a child of the three C’s: curiosity, creativity, and challenge. Also being Nigerian, creativity and art is strongly implanted in our culture, so it was easy for me to adapt to new creative outlets. One of my good friends, Frederick Pratt, asked me to join him in a dance audition at the University of the Arts because he didn’t want to go alone. I went to the audition and the rest was history. Being in the right place and staying true to the three C’s allowed me to train at UArts.
I first realized a shift in my expression when I was in Germany on tour with a company named Pilobolus Dance Theater. I had been doing a touring show for two years and want to change. So I bought a laptop and got into beat making. I got into it so much so I would stay in my hotel room and not explore these beautiful European cities! At that point I knew music captured my attention completely. Now, I’ve always been a writer of words. But it wasn’t until I found music production that I became a songwriter.
Your video for “!dentity” wonderfully captures your passion for both dancing and singing/songwriting. How would you describe the relationship between the two?
Soul movement and music is all I know. Allowing yourself to speak a language that comes from beyond your body. That is soul movement and music. Being both Dancer and musicians allows me to be a bridge! Because simply without sound there is no movement in and vice versa. Every move you make is followed with a sound or breath, they are connected. Rhythm and groove are what marry dance & song. Like moon and sun, you need both to create the eclipse. One should be able to sing with their body and move through their song. Centrifugal force.
Given that your parents are from Nigeria, are there any Nigerian artists who have greatly influenced you?
Yes, my mom and dad made sure we knew our roots completely. So we would play a lot of traditional Nigerian music in our household, and other African artists. There’s a lot of great Nigerian Highlife Music. Chief Oliver, Awilo Longomba was a big influence for me. His music is so dope. I get a lot of my rhythmic vocal lines from him. A lot of people didn’t know that Sade was from Nigeria , but we listened to a lot of Sade.
Can you speak to your time living in Germany? What was that like and how has it influenced your work?
Germany was beautiful place for new discoveries, but also being in Germany sometimes felt like captivity for me. Germany is a very diverse place, in certain areas. Some areas are not integrated at all. But I can say it was definitely a place of beauty. I got to see D’Angelo play in Germany before I left. That moment alone inspired me even more to get back to the states and dive even deeper into my artistic journey.
What message do you hope to send with your music?
Duality is the key to survival, knowing ones self, and evolution. South truth is sometimes intricate and tedious but needs to be revealed. Culture, family, and love what elements that cannot be forgotten.
What are you most looking forward to about touring?
I really look forward to connecting with and performing for a new state and people. Brings me joy to touch and inspire my brothers’ and sisters’ lives, so doing that across the country with my own art is a dream come true.