Chicago podcaster Case Kenny harnesses music and mindfulness to make self-exploration fun
Don't call him a coach. And don't call him an influencer.
But with a Top 25-ranked Apple podcast and upward of 439,000 followers on Instagram, it seems likely Case Kenny is helping a few people live their best lives.
"I'm just a guy who has developed his own way of looking at life that makes me happier and more fulfilled," the Hinsdale native explained. "If I can turn around and help other people, I will do that."
Now based in Chicago, Kenny recently released his "MUSICxMINDFULNESS" collaboration with Dutch DJ Martin Garrix as a special episode of his popular "New Mindset, Who Dis?" podcast (available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast fix). Set to 30 minutes of progressive-melodic dance music by Garrix, Kenny peppers the set with spoken hints to help people find and cherish their perfect moments. The episode is just the latest in a lineup that has included Frank Walker, Lucas Estrada, Gryffin, Cheat Codes and other national and international acts, with more in the works, promises the backward baseball cap-wearing, self-described "dudebroguy."
"The music thing is something I'm super, super passionate about, but it's just getting started," Kenny said. "And I'm passionate about bringing mindfulness to life in different ways, specifically through audio. I love house music. I love dance music. ... I wanted to find a way to mix together a passion for dance music and what I'm really good at, which is mindfulness."
Mindfulness can bring to, er, mind images of tranquil scenes set to calming music. But as meditation is becoming more mainstream, new ways to practice it are pushing it beyond those traditional standards, as the popularity of goat yoga sessions and classes set to live music and dance music popping up around Chicago and the suburbs can attest.
"The ethos of meditation is calm, right? Calm your mind, block out the world. And my whole thing is, yeah, that works for some people. But a lot of people it doesn't work for. A lot of people can't sit down and focus and block everything out, myself kind of included in that," Kenny explained. "The whole point of mindfulness is to put yourself in a radically honest mindset. And I found when I listen to the right kind of dance music, melodic and uplifting, it's euphoric. It's the right mindset. I feel vulnerable. I feel honest. I feel excited."
The musical episodes are a companion to Kenny's twice-a-week podcast, which he says has been one of his favorite ways to work through things since 2018.
"It was just in response to my life. I was 29 at the time, and I just didn't really feel in control. I wanted to really make sure that I'm living life on purpose. That I'm doing the things that I want to do, not what I think I need to do," he said. "I joke that it's my form of therapy." (In full disclosure, Kenny also attends and advocates for therapy.)
Kenny's "New Mindset, Who Dis?" podcast hits the sweet spot on the self-help scene: It's concrete, it's practical and it's delivered in easily digestible small servings. Through it, he says he tries to keep things relatable without reinventing the wheel.
"We overcomplicate things in life. We overthink things in life very, very much. But at the core foundation, we know a truth, we know our standards, we know when something doesn't feel right," he said. "But life, conditioning, all these things tend to lead us to convince ourselves otherwise. I just think it's my job to state the obvious."
Kenny acknowledges he's driven by his "hard-wired optimism," and his forthright approach to emotional health may be a product of his years in the cutthroat corporate culture of advertising technology sales.
His life now -- ruled by a wall of sticky notes full of ideas and to-dos -- is a far cry from that world.
"It's an interesting balance of uber creativity and just raw entrepreneurship," he said. "I joke that I do arts and crafts for a living."
On top of the podcast and musical releases -- several of which are also available on YouTube -- Kenny walks the streets of Chicago posting empowering messages on his Instagram.
"I used to kind of clown on self help. I'd be like, 'Oh, love yourself. Real cool. Great quote.' I would make fun of inspirational quotes just because it seems so obvious. But the whole thing about life is life is obvious. We just choose to not address certain things because of conditioning or trauma or life or whatever it may be," he said. "I've always been good at coming back to some kind of centeredness. And it feels good to sit down and just be open and vulnerable and sensitive."
Kenny advocates for that openness in a series of books and daily mindfulness journals he has released over the last two years -- the newest is due out Monday, July 11. Through them he directs readers through daily prompts and activities designed to promote self-exploration rather than using them to just dump when one's upset. In June, Kenny's journals were picked up by select retail stores; they're also available online at newmindsetwhodis.com.
"I try to make the movement of mindfulness and meditation and journaling more fun, more everyday," he said. "It's a fun thing. We should be celebrating ourselves, not feeling sad that we need to be vulnerable," he said.