Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Cool, Calm & Kwabs

Kwabs Kwabs Kwabs Kwabs

Having attained significant European success earlier this year with the full-bodied self reflection of his anthemic single ”Walk”, critically-acclaimed London singer/songwriter Kwabs this month releases his eagerly-anticipated debut album “Love + War”.

Indeed, described as “soaring confessional soul that feels like freedom”, “Love + War” finds Kwabs’ rich, powerful baritone fronting a diverse range of musical moods ranging from the catchy xylophone riffs of the optimistic “My Own” and the propulsive, Eighties-tinged disco vibe of “Fight For Love” to the brooding, abstract ”Perfect Ruin” and dreamy, birdsong-like qualities of “Layback”.

Born Kwabena Sarkodee Adjepong in Bermondsey, South London on April 24, 1990, Ghanaian-rooted Kwabs’ musical journey began when his school music teacher first introduced him to Britain’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra, with whom he would go on to work as lead singer for three years before going on to prestigiously study jazz at London’s Royal Academy of Music.

Following which, after having participated in 2011 in the BBC TV show “Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment” (which resulted in him being one of 12 chosen to create music pieces for a performance at Buckingham Palace), Kwabs would initially come to public attention as an artist in his own right the following year after his cover version of electronic music singer/songwriter James Blake’s “The Wilhelm Scream” went viral on YouTube. Which in turn would lead to his current deal with Atlantic Records, for whom in 2014 he would go on to release three EPs - ”Wrong Or Right”; ”Pray For Love” ; and “Walk”, the title-track of which would of course become Kwabs’ breakthrough European smash attaining Platinum status in Norway as well as being certified Gold in Germany (where it hit Number One), Switzerland, Austria and The Netherlands.

…All of which conveniently brings us back to today and the release of the aforementioned “Love + War”. As an articulate and well-spoken Kwabs - fresh from a packed summer of Europe-wide festival appearances - calls up “Blues & Soul” Assistant Editor Pete Lewis from his Amsterdam hotel room for a revealing introductory interview.

Titling his debut album “Love + War”
“I chose to name the album after the track “Love + War” mainly because as a title it seemed to summarise what the album as a whole was ABOUT. You know, I do feel that as humans we are made of many different parts, some of which do contradict each other. And though the words ‘love’ and ’war’ may seem like they’re opposite, at the same time to me together they do represent those extremes of emotions that do live within us side-by-side - and what I was trying to achieve with this record was to write a collection of songs which represented that full spectrum of emotions while at the same time saying how we should be settled and comfortable with them in order to be HAPPY. You know, we are light, we are darkness, we are sadness, we are joy - and all of those things do co-exist together as part OF us.”

What Kwabs wanted to achieve musically with “Love + War”
”Well, musically I just wanted all of the songs to be the best that they could BE - and in turn that could come from any sort of musical inspiration, stylistically-speaking. Which is why some of the album is kind of folky in terms of its melodic writing, some of it is more kind of R&B-esque in its writing, some songs are more referential and more kind of akin to vintage soul... Then in terms of the overall sonics, regardless of where it came from stlylistically I did want the music to have an edge and a sense of slight ALTERNATIVE to it. While thematically I wanted it to be an album which had a really strong EMOTIONAL tone to it - something that felt like it came from the heart and soul and felt like it came from someone who had a STORY to tell… So yeah, I guess those were my three main ideals.“


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To read more from our exclusive interview with Kwabs, including what in he feels he’s bringing to today’s music scene and why he feels he particularly excels in the live arena ... Just pick up a copy of Blues & Soul magazine at your local magazine retailer, inc; WH Smith, Menzies + selected Euro Foods, Cost Cutters and a plethora of independents everywhere! ...If they don't stock it, ask for a "B&S shop save" and they will get it for you.

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