Kenya Grace Live At Heaven

Princess of Liquid D&B, Kenya Grace is a woman of many talents, known primarily as a bedroom singer and producer based out of London. I remember first seeing her appear on my TikTok for you page a couple of years back. Making bedroom d&b mixes on her beat composer, she would sing conversational verses overtop. Thus creating hits that included elements of electronic dance music, which complimented her soulful voice. The first song of hers that I came across was ‘Afterparty Lover.’  One I actually mixed into my own DJ set at a queer festival I played last summer called, Hedonist. You can assume when the opportunity to review her set came up, I jumped at it. 

If you’ve been to Heaven before you know what to expect, but for new attendees you may be in for a little surprise when you find it’s entirely underground. When Kenya took the stage on 1st of May, this environment added to the depth of the bass as you were fully immersed in each track. Not only this, but the way Kenya’s visual narrative assisted transitions between songs – it was easy to invest yourself into the story. Kenya assumed authority of the stage in a way that was both direct as it was sweet, belting out soulful lyrics between giggles and smashing out beat mixes real time. 

Smoke machines added to the intensity of the space, accompanying the light show that went along with each track’s pacing. The crowd was surprisingly diverse. As one could assume, having a high engagement rate garnered off social media platforms like TikTok, the viewership could be quite young. Though there were many teenage listeners in the space, the age range was wide. Thus lending itself to the expansiveness of her music and relatability that translates across age brackets. 

The tracks were aligned in a way that told a story of a fleeting romance, ultimately one that begins and ends as strangers. The audience was absorbed into this narrative as the initial video, which is animated in a cutesy 3D style, shows a caricature of Kenya. We watch as she’s scrolling on her phone, sending messages to a romantic interest. The videos lead us down a story, which depicts matching on a dating app, meeting in real life and a final message being left on “not delivered”. The opening song was slightly elusive at first, beginning with an improvised liquid d&b track she mixed on the spot, but transitioned into her song, Afterparty Lover, released in 2023. 

Video swapped seamlessly between story-tale visuals to a live view of her mixing on her beat controller. It was really interesting to see Kenya’s talent come to life on stage after witnessing most of it as it was confined to her cellphone camera. Dim bedroom illumination, which once highlighted her performance space, was swapped with stage lighting and screaming fans. To see such incredible talent expand at unbelievable speed and then to witness it live was quite the experience. 

Kenya wowed the audience with electronic mixes of ‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani, and her rendition of ‘Toxic’ by Britney Spears, which she sang over her personal remix of the track. Each song followed this tale of love as it was found, and then lost. Quirky text bubbles popped up as the main character tried to connect to a love interest that ultimately ghosted her by the end of the show. 

This storyline was cemented with her performance of ‘Stay,’ which showed a male love interest, who was representative of a negative entity of sorts, all red, with blacked out eyes. Kenya also performed some unreleased music, which was an exciting nod to the direction she’s taking her creative inclinations, one of the lyrics being “why do bad things feel amazing?”. 

The show ends with her biggest hit, ‘Strangers,’ which garners a staggering 700 million+ listens on Spotify. The story ends with the main character (Kenya) seemingly driving off into the distance. The boy she was trying so desperately to be with – fixed to her rearview mirror, akin to that of a hanging set of car dice. Kenya Grace is an innovator, dedicated to her craft, and it shows. The audience was holding after every beat and I guarantee it’s only going to continue from here. All I know is I’ll be watching this space, that’s for sure. 

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Photographer: Sophie Vaughan

Words: Lauren Bulla