YOUNG JEFE  

noun || yəNG ˈhefā

Desiree Mckenzie is a spoken word artist.

DESIREE MCKENZIE

*Desiree's Young Jefe feature was submitted via Instagram.*

YJ: Has what you’re doing now been a life-long interest?

DM: Performing has always been a life-long interest of mine. Musical theatre, singing and acting were always an important part of my education. But I found when I graduated high school, my passion rested in sharing my own stories and feelings with audiences. That led me to spoken word.

YJ: Where do you find inspiration, when needing it?

DM: A good night out with my friends, talking through my ideas with those same friends or a long drive listening to Kanye West, Lauryn Hill’s MTV Unplugged session. 

YJ: What are you still looking to achieve?

DM: On a large scale, performing spoken word and teaching workshops as my full-time career. On a small scale, trying to take on the big, wild world of publishing my work.

YJ: What do you think is different about your creative process? 

DM: I’m not sure if pacing around my room while I write is different, but it’s definitely instrumental in my creative process. There’s never any way to predict how long it’ll take me to finish a piece or perfect performing it – everything really depends on how I was feeling when I wrote it. Sometimes there’ll be things I’ve figured out and have opinions on already that I write about, those cases make it easier. Otherwise, if it’s something I’m currently dealing with – it’ll take a bit longer as I work through that obstacle. Feel me?

YJ: What would you say to someone who may think that their talent is not an ideal career path?

DM: Firstly, who said something you aren’t even passionate about is the ideal career path? And who’s to say you can't be passionate about something that isn’t your talent. This is something I’ve been learning to manage over the past year – and I’ve found that spoken word has motivated my 9-5 copywriting career even further and I’m so proud to bring that passion to all the writing I do. 

With time and sacrifice, I think anyone can make Money, Happiness and Passion have the same definition.

YJ: What’s been your favorite project in your career so far?

DM: Most recently, I would say working with the boys of RHOZELAND on the video for my poem Love Letter. Collaborating with them brought an aspect of teamwork to spoken word (a very independent art form) that I have never encountered and took my vision ten steps forward. Also, being a part of BAM! Youth Slam’s mentorship program. Being a student of Joshua 'Scribe' Watkis, Patrick De Belen and Lex Leosis has helped me grow in so many ways. 

 YJ: What are 3 activities still left on your bucket list?

 DM:  

  •  Meet, or perform in front of Sarah Kay. She’s the poet who inspired me to do spoken word with her piece ‘If I should have a daughter...’
  • Put on my own poetry revue show with some of my favourite artists.
  • Take my work internationally and see how my truth as a black woman translates to other audiences.
  • Live long enough to see another Frank Ocean album come out. 

For more of Desiree follow her, here or go to her YouTube.