Mo Kenney: My new album is the most personal yet
The Canadian singer-songwriter talks to DIVA about battling addiction and why she’s so proud of her new record
Mo Kenney is a 27-year-old singer-songwriter from Halifax, Canada, known for an inimitable lyrical prowess and engaging stage presence. Her new record, The Details, is out later this month and is a searingly honest portrayal of her own unraveling. DIVA caught up with her ahead of her performance at The Slaughtered Lamb in London next week to find out how she managed to get through that difficult time and put her life back together again.
DIVA: I had a listen to the new album this morning – congratulations on an incredible piece of work. You must be really pleased with how it's turned out.
Mo Kenney: I'm really, really proud of it and I can't wait to wait to put it out into the world.
I was really struck by its searing honesty and vulnerability. Would you say this is your most personal record yet?
Laying your soul bare, for better or worse, can’t be easy. Was it difficult to dig into the emotions in this dark period in your life? Did you find it cathartic?
When I write music it's always very cathartic because it's usually pretty personal. The experiences I was having were tough but at the time, when I was writing, I'm not really thinking about the fact that other people are going to hear it. It was when I was in the studio actually recording these songs, that's when it kind of hit me and I started having a little bit of anxiety about making myself so vulnerable and having to put something out that was so personal. But I'm super happy with how it turned out. It's a little bit scary but I'm mostly just excited now.
The album charts your unraveling but ends on a positive note with the track Feeling Good where you say “I like being alone because I like myself”. What do you think changed? How did you get from where you were to that point?
Lots of therapy. [laughs] I started going back to therapy again in the summer of 2015. I had gone to therapy a bunch when I was a teenager because I had a really bad bout of depression starting when I was 14. But I stopped going. I think when I was 17 or 18, I stopped, and I hadn't really resolved everything that was kind of going on. I've had problems with alcoholism since I was a teenager and that's something I still struggle with but I've really gotten that under control and it's because I went back to therapy and was really honest with myself and with my therapist, so. That's definitely where the change happened.
The Details strikes me as a cohesive album that’s intended to be listened to as a whole, in order, rather than shuffled. Was that something you did intentionally?
Definitely, yes. It's one piece. The tracks are in that order for a reason. It all goes together and it's just one piece.
You’re coming to the UK later next week. What, apart from performing, are you most looking forward to about being back here?
I really love London. I've been to London quite a few times now. The first time I was so afraid because it was so big. It's such a bigger city than Halifax is, it's enormous, and there are so many places to go see. I feel like I could go there 100 times and not see everything. It's really exciting and I have such a good time every time.
Read the rest of this interview in the November issue of DIVA, on sale from 20 October.
Mo Kenney is playing live at The Slaughtered Lamb in London on Monday 25 September at 7.30. Tickets are available at glasswerk.co.uk.
The Details is out 29 September.
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