Kwabs: "Through a darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope"

Neu Kwabs: “Through a darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope”

With a voice that shakes the foundations of pop, Kwabs might be a musical graduate, but they don’t teach this stuff in school.

“I’m still young and I still feel there’s something in it.” This was the basis for Kwabs’ pursuit into music. Before becoming one of the UK’s most exciting solo stars, he spent time studying at the Royal Academy of Music, working on various projects, appearing on a BBC show, ‘Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment.’ Already on the fringes of something special, this twenty-something decided to take things into his own hands.

“Writing for myself as a means of self-expression has been a pretty new thing,” he says, speaking ahead of the ‘Pray For Love’ EP, which boasts production from blog-darling SOHN and the politically charged Plan B. When Kwabs started, the musician - real name Kwabena Sarkodee - wasn’t sure about his intentions. “I did a cover of a Corinne Bailey Rae tune. People seemed to dig it and then all of a sudden it seemed to make sense that I should try [to continue].”

Today, everything seems mapped out. London-based, early tracks have seen him collaborating with big names, but he’s still been able to stamp his own motifs on everything. “It would be a shame for me to do something that isn’t forward looking,” he says, summing up the mentality that ties together these soulful, electronic pop songs.

Songs are about “personal development and progress.” There’s a definite darkness to ‘Wrong or Right’, which fuses a 90s R&B synth line with bellowed, half-doubtful chants of “It’s alright!”. If there’s anxiety in the lyrics, there’s zero doubt in Kwabs’ execution. “I love that palette, that dark sound,” he admits. “Through a darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope.”

Kwabs: "Through a darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope" Kwabs: "Through a darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope" Kwabs: "Through a darkness I want to achieve a sense of hope"

Attention’s now turning to a full-length. Having an album out this year is “important.” He’s appreciative of ‘Sound of 2014’ lists that he’s cropped up on, but the focus is on a debut. “There’s been encouragement but not massive hyperbole. Now I can give fans something that they want. They can have ownership of it.” Expect Kwabs to be less a stampeding, breakthrough success, more a permanent voice that defines the year.

Photos taken by Phil Smithies for DIY. Interview taken from the June issue, out now.

Tags: Kwabs, Features, Interviews, Neu

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