If you’ve been looking for an Aussie hip-hop artist who delivers sensationally crafted beats, thoughtful lyrics and an easy-listening vibe, while still possessing the power to hype up any crowd – your first stop should be Kwame.
If you haven’t already heard of him (where have you been?!), Kwame starting turning heads in 2016 thanks to an unlikely encounter with A$AP Ferg. And boy are we glad the stars aligned that way, because since then he has gone on to release a seriously impressive catalogue of music and grace countless stages across the country, including those of Splendour in the Grass, Big Sound and Spilt Milk.
Joining heavy weights such as Peking Duk, Skepta and Tkay Maidza throughout the year, Kwame has been on a one way trajectory to the top in 2018, culminating in the crown of Triple J Unearthed‘s Artist of the Year. As the icing on the cake, his new single ‘CLOUDS’ has just landed, launching him into a national tour kicking off this month.
Daunted by the New Year knocking at your door? Fear not! Kwame is easing us in, with the bulk of the tour taking place early in 2019 (deets below).
There’s no stopping this hip-hop powerhouse…except to share his industry know-how with the rest of us. Check it out below!
Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?
Music was always a thing within my household however that song spoke to me and so many different ways that it gave me goosebumps, from the lyrics, to the production.
It was a song that really gave me the urge to create at such a high level of sonics that I ended up going through his whole catalogue, I’m honestly a Ye stan haha.
Artists I’m listening to include James Blake, Francis and The Lights, Bon Iver, Issac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Shirley Ann Lee, KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Smino, Noname, SABA, Rayvn Lenae, Phoelix, Teyana Taylor, Kraftwerk, Bas, Tyler The Creator, Kirk Franklin, SiR – honestly so many artists.
What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
Touring can be quite tiring, however always keep a positive mind frame! Touring is honestly the best thing about being an artist, we connect with fans all over the country and the world! When touring make sure you’re travelling with the right team, the right energy.
You never want to be travelling with people who aren’t on the same wavelength as you are. Personally I like to keep things business. I take my artistry so seriously and I pour my heart out to fans with every performance. I travel with my DJ, Engineer, Manager, Videographer/Photographer and guest vocalists who feature on my songs. Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Go out there and give it your all!
What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
So far the most defining moment of my career was playing Splendour In The Grass.
I remember waiting at the stage for half an hour checking in and out of the venue to see if people were turning up. A lot of people told me that fans don’t really turn up to the first act of the day but that didn’t stop me from going out there and having the time of my life.
I went to the bathroom and came back with 10 minutes left only to see an army of people walking up to the ampitheatre! The place was so packed and this was something that they had never seen before in the history of the opening act for Splendour!
When I was touring with Peking Duk which – real quick shoutout to them cause they are legit my blood brothers! – they got the whole crowd to sit down when they played ‘Seven Nation Army’ and they would all jump up when Adam counted them in! It was so hype to see that happen at 5k cap venues! I thought it would be really cool to incorporate that into my set at Splendour and the perfect song to use was ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
If you were there or saw the video on my socials, it was HYPE!!!
How has your music practice changed over time?
My music practice has been the same and will never change. Create from within, make music for yourself. As artists, it’s our experiences, emotions and feelings that we put into our craft.
I don’t look at anyone else, I never let anyone’s perception of my music taint my approach because they’re not the creators of my work.
If you approach anything in life with that mentality, you’re never going to be happy with yourself.
The only reward you receive from conforming is everyone liking you, but yourself.
My top business tip for new artists is…
Don’t let the industry control you.
Do what ‘YOU’ love not what ‘THEY’ want.
My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
My biggest mistake was doubting myself, feeling so unsure of everything. I’m at place now where I love everything that I do and it translates through my artistry. That’s the important thing as it becomes so easy for people to knock you down. Believe in yourself.
In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
In my opinion I find that it’s the industry itself, a lot of it is based on connections, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.
We need to bring the industry back to what it originally was. That feeling of listening to music that sent chills down your spine and you had to go to all ends of the earth informing everyone you knew about how it gave you this euphoric feeling!
That’s the mentality we need to bring back. I also find that it’s too careful and unwilling to take risks. I expressed this opinion in a tweet a few months back, stating that DJ’s are the curators of our nightlife which I commend them on.
However, the same top 40 tracks are being played week in and week out, three times a night. We need to be educating people with new music, especially home grown music! People will become much more receptive of Australian music because it’s being presented to them in different settings. I’m pushing for change in our culture and I’m going to restore the faith that I believe people have lost in Australian music, there’s so much talent and it needs to be heard. We need to take risks.
In order for change we need to be the change.
My team and I are conceptualising ideas to make this change effective.
Kwame’s new hit single CLOUDS is out everywhere now. Pop over to your favourite streaming platform, or give it a listen HERE.
The CLOUDS Tour kicks off on the 13th of December, find dates and tickets HERE.
If you enjoyed this Savvy Seven, keep your eyes peeled every Thursday for a new addition to the series. In the meantime, check out the archives for more!