On the back of a massive 2018, Kwame has deservingly been awarded Triple J Unearthed’s “Artist Of The Year’, toured alongside Tkay Maidza, Peking Duk, Skepta and Vera Blue as well as played some massive festivals. With the release of his new single ‘Clouds’, the Sydney based producer and rapper is rolling into 2019 in a big way. With a string of his headline shows already sold out, it’s no surprise that Kwame is making a big impact in Australia after you witness his live show. Full of energy, hope and empowerment, he makes you feel safe whilst also delivering a highly energetic and hyped set.
Ahead of his massive national headlining tour I recently chatted to Kwame about how his teachers lack of belief fuelled a fire inside of him to have success, how his self-expectations have grown since being awarded Triple J Unearthed’s Artist Of The Year and what the most important thing he’s learnt about himself as an artist is. Check out the chat HERE;
TB: Your new single ‘Clouds’ is a brief hype track that serves as a self realisation of your own self worth. One lyric that immediately stands out is “I’m that diamond in the rough”. Throughout this whole experience so far, what has helped you to continuously find that inner-self belief?
K: One thing that helped me to keep that mentality was by surrounding myself around like-minded individuals who are my team. The vision needs to be clear with your peers, sometimes others around you may not be able to see that and that’s okay. However, surrounding yourself around positive energy and people who only want to inspire, push and motivate others around them and the world to the bigger picture that we all see is so vital in this career and just any path in general.
TB: Another lyric which is every bit empowering as well as attitude filled is “teachers said I’d be nothing but your children have me bumping”. So was school a bit of a confusing place for you mentally and artistically? And how did you really encourage yourself to immerse yourself into music?
K: That line is actually really interesting to me. 2015 was the year I graduated from high school and what they have once you reach senior year was this pastoral care program called ‘Mentoring Group’. Basically this was done by certain teachers hand picking particular students who they felt had a bright future which was ridiculous.
Every fortnight we would meet with the teacher with our partner and we had to present our school diary for them to track where we were in our classes what goals we were setting and achieving. My partner was late to one of the sessions, so I went by myself. I hadn’t been using my diary because I just found it so useless and I never liked school. I felt so boxed in as it never actually gave me the right path to do what I wanted to do which was music. Also, music at school sucked! I dropped that for drama which I enjoyed so much more, so the boy can act too *laughs*. Basically that teacher told me that he wasn’t sure where I would be after school because of the effort I applied. I remember the exact words I told him; “Sir, mark my words I will be something, people will be inspired by what I do”
Personally I feel that schools do not cater to creatives. It just felt like we were being programmed by a default setting to finish, get your HSC, go to Uni, fall into debt, get a desk job and figure out the rest. I was luckily enough to have like minded friends who I’m still around to this day who weren’t blinded by that thought. Together we helped each other survive school by planning and practising our art. We knew this was what we wanted to do and we weren’t going to allow anyone tell us differently.
TB: You were recently named Triple J Unearthed’s Artist Of The Year which is a massive honour in it’s own right. So after this whirlwind year and everyones eyes and ears on you, do you feel a pressure to live up to a level of expectation now?
K: I’m forever grateful for that award. Everything I do is for the culture. So if I’m named ‘Artist Of The Year’ then Hip Hop is genre of the year. The only expectations I have to live up to are my own. I’m so happy making the music that I wanna make. Once you start living up to others expectations everything you do is fake, it’s not authentic. You fall into the trap of trying to cater to everyone and I don’t want that. I’m creating for myself and for the people out there who believe in themselves too. I find that’s what’s wrong in our music scene and I’m going to change that mentality.
TB: 2018 has truly been a massive year for you, so what is one thing you’ve learned about yourself as an artist?
K: One thing I’ve learned about myself is my ‘never back down’ attitude. Not once did I feel afraid of any opportunity I had the ability to embark on.
TB: You will be hitting the road in February for a huge headlining tour so what is one feeling or thought you want people to walk away from your set thinking/feeling?
K: The one feeling I want for people to walk away with is knowing that anything is possible. I don’t believe in the impossible anymore, that’s a word that’s used to scare us from giving our all into anything we do. Time is of the essence. Do all that you can in one lifetime. We literally have one chance at life. I found my calling in the creative arts, to others it may be a different path. I just want my fans to walk away knowing that whatever path they choose to follow, they will conquer any battles they face.
TB: With only a string of EP’s and singles released, is there any unreleased songs that you’re most excited/nervous to perform on this tour in particular and get some feelers out from the crowd?
K: You’ll just have to wait and see!
TB: You’ve done a lot of touring this year alongside the likes of Peking Duk, Tkay Maidza, Skepta and Vera Blue as well as festival appearances and even a coveted set at BIGSOUND. So what has been one of your favourite/funniest touring experiences from the year?
K: I think my favourite moment of touring was when Peking Duk, my DJ R.SÖZE and I were free styling in the green room of an after party we were playing at for 2 hours straight. That was such a crazy moment and from memory I believe it was being filmed so who knows, you may see it in a documentary! Funniest moment would have to be the whole first week of September. I played BIGSOUND, turned 21 and went on tour with Tkay Maidza. Look, I can’t go into detail with this one so if you’re reading this and you were around my team and I, then you know *laughs*.
TB: 2018 was a bit of a weird year in general so what song would you say became your soundtrack of the year?
K: I think my soundtrack of 2018 has to be ‘Reborn’ by Kids See Ghosts.
TB: Lets play a little game where you answer these questions with the first thing that comes to mind…
TB: Most mornings I…
K: Go to the gym.
TB: If I could collaborate with any artist it would be…
K: Bon Iver.
TB: The emoji that best describes me is the…
K: Lightning bolt!
TB: Pineapple on pizza is…
K: Disgusting! *laughs*
TB: My pre show pump up song is…
K: I don’t have one actually *laughs*.
KWAME 2019 Australian Tour
Fri 8 Feb – Part In The Paddock, Launceston
Sat 9 Feb – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Thu 14 Feb – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Fri 15 Feb – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane *SOLD OUT*
Sat 16 Feb – Mountain Sounds Festival, NSW
Fri 22 Feb – Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Sat 23 Feb – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne *SOLD OUT*
Sun 24 Feb – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Fri 1 Mar – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
Thu 7 Mar – Cambridge Warehouse, Newcastle *SOLD OUT*
Fri 8 Mar – Cambridge Warehouse, Newcastle *SOLD OUT*