Let’s get one thing clear; London boy-genius Kwes aint no slouch. Yes he may have taken his own sweet time to release a new EP (almost two years to be exact) but he’s not been sitting around in his under-crackers watching ‘This Morning’, he’s been rather busy producing the likes of Dels, Speech Debelle and Michachu not to mention helping Damon Albarn with his DRC music project. Besides, Meantime is worth the wait. A captivating jumble of sunny, wonky, psych-pop genius, think Shuggie Otis twisting beats with Panda Bear and you’re half way there. Signed to Warp records his eagerly anticipated debut album will be released early next year.
There’s been a bit of a gap between EPs has all this producing malarkey been distracting?
Yeah, I guess it has been. When I was working on my first EP (No Need To Run) which was an instrumental one I was also helping out on the Dels record, it was a busy time. No Need To Run was actually an unfinished piece of work but (record label) Young Turks were eager to get it out there and I was happy to let them do that. In between that and Meantime I put out a free download ‘Get Up’ just after Warp signed me but it that was an old track. Now I’m kinda focussing on writing and recording new stuff for my album, I think recently I’ve been getting more comfortable working as an artist not just a producer.
The lead single ‘Bashful’ has a giant pop chorus and overall Meantime is extremely warm sounding incorporating a range of influences and styles, is it a deliberate move away from the cold ,angular, insular sound of people like James Blake?
I’ve always tried to bring warmth to my music, the warm sound I guess just comes from me completely pouring my heart out, that style is part of me. It’s the only way I really know how to express myself, in that big range. We have access to everything nowadays and I don’t think there are any musical boundaries left so I’m just including all my influences. Although, at the same time I always strive to make something that’s new to my ears at least, I just try to make music that’s true to myself but it’s still music that will push boundaries.
Speaking of influences and pushing boundaries, is it true that the track ‘Honey’ was inspired by the Beach Boys’ ‘Vegetables’?
Well I guess ‘Vegetables’ is probably about drugs! (laughs) but it’s more about the idea of putting myself in the position of being inanimate, trying to imagine myself as an object but still having that human condition. ‘Honey’ is me imagining if I was a cabbage, looking around and spotting a jar of honey on the shelf and perceiving it to be the love of my life.
Woah. Sounds deep. So, we know you love the Beach Boys but are there any records in your collection people might be surprised that you own?
If people were new to my music I guess maybe they’d be a bit surprised that I love Rubber Soul and I also have a lot of Paul McCartney stuff in my collection.
You’ve done a mixtape with Micachu and obviously the DRC music project with Damon Albarn, what is it you enjoy about collaborating?
It’s funny, I don’t know how I’ve collaborated with all these people, I guess I’m just in the right place at the right time! I love collaborating, I learn so much about myself when I’m working with these completely different people. I filter anything I’ve learned through my own creative process and then make it my own. That’s not why I collaborate though; I do it because I admire the people and their music.
What was it like working with Damon, King of Collaborators?
Well Damon and his team picked out a group of people they collectively admired to work on DRC but there wasn’t anything regimented or rigorous, we had complete creative free range, which was great. Damon’s always doing about six things at once constantly but with this project in the Congo he really believed in us and believed that we’d complete a cohesive body of work in under a week. It just demonstrated to me how little an ego he has.
Is there any artist living or dead that you’d love to collaborate with?
Uhhhmm. John Marytn but in a way I’m not sure I’d have wanted to work with (personally) him as much as I love his music! Oh, I was thinking about this the other day, I’d love to work with Alicia Keyes cause I think she’s a modern day Carole King.
So what can we expect from you live at the Camden Crawl Dublin?
(Much laughter) Ehh maybe me tripping over my words! I’m just getting used to projecting and moving live. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘singer’ like James Blake I’d consider myself more a musician but I’m getting used to using my voice on stage. Maybe if I had more of a budget I’d do the hologram thing like Snoop with Tupac!
We hear that you’re a massive fan of tea. Can you give us some tips for how to make the perfect brew?
First, take cold water from the tap. NEVER use warm water or lukewarm water. Boil the water, get your PG Tips or whatever and put that in your mug, pour the boiling water over it and leave it for exactly 2 minutes and 42 seconds or 3 minutes depending on your palette. Take the bag out or leave it in if you’re lazy. Use whole milk NEVER skimmed milk or you can use soya milk it’s not as sour as it used to be honest! Then you’re sorted with the perfect cuppa.
Meantime is released on Warp Records on April 27th. Kwes plays the Camden Crawl Dublin on Saturday May 12th, venue to be announced on the day. Tickets are on sale now priced €40 for the weekend, €25 per day.