Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Meet your favourite new soul singer

Kwabs.jpg

ShortList speaks to south Londoner Kwabs ahead of his global takeover   

We’ve stunned Kwabena Adjepong, aka 25-year-old Kwabs, into silence. “I’m actually speechless,” he says down the phone, “I’m not entirely sure how to respond to that.” Not that we offended him or anything, quite the opposite. I’ve just told him my friend thinks his voice sounds like the love child of Luther Vandross and a Galaxy bar, which it does: “Well, I suppose those are two very good things.”

Good doesn’t begin to cover it. If you’re unfamiliar with the British-Ghanaian singer (pronounced ‘Kwobs’), let us introduce you: his soulful, gospel-tinged voice has gone from the realms of viral YouTube hit (covering James Blake’s The Wilhelm Scream) to selling out gigs at London’s Koko, being longlisted for the BBC Sound of 2015 and taking Europe by storm with single Walk. Atlantic, sensibly, signed him immediately. Bookies were taking bets on him winning the Mercury Prize (with a yet-to-be-released album). Oh, and everyone from Jessie Ware to Plan B have declared themselves a fan.

Two years in the making, his debut album, Love + War, is one of the most hotly anticipated of 2015. Working with Vienna-based producer SOHN on early tracks, Kwabs has crafted a heady mix of power ballads, piano hooks and chilly electronica. He also features on the upcoming Disclosure album (“It’s got a bounce to it”). 

But if you can’t quite pin his music down, Kwabs isn’t surprised. “I didn’t really have musical role models growing up and it’s one of the reasons why my music is so hard to put a finger on. I listened to everything I could: soul, jazz, alternative rock, classical. Kind of like a magpie.”

So, as a singer “trying to be as emotive” as he can, what is Kwabs’ break-up song of choice? 

I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt,” he says. “You’ve gotta listen to the songs that’ll tear you apart so you can build yourself back up again. Find some candles, a quiet room and just weep yourself into the floor. Then reconstruct yourself afterwards.” 

Like we said: Luther Vandross. Galaxy bar. 

Kwabs’ single, Fight For Love, is out on 10 July and the album, Love + War, on 11 September. He plays Somerset House on 17 July

Related

JamesBayUP.jpg

James Bay's Ultimate Playlist

noelgallagher1.jpg

The 15 Albums You Need To Hear in 2015

shortlisten.jpg

The ShortListen

oned.jpg

One Direction Have Made A Perfume Advert And It's Actually Alright

rexfeatures_424701aa.jpg

Listening To Angry Music Can Actually Make You A Lot Happier

glastoheadliners1.jpg

Can you name the Glastonbury Headliners?

Comments

More

Foo Fighters could announce Glastonbury headline slot at surprise gig

It looks like they're playing a really intimate venue

by Alex Finnis
24 Feb 2017

ITV slammed for heavily muting Skepta at Brits

Dermot O'Leary was allowed to swear

by Matt Tate
23 Feb 2017

Bradley Walsh and Stormzy became best mates at the BRITs

Expect a fire collab soon

by Matt Tate
23 Feb 2017

Oscar nominees get the Honest Trailers treatment, and it's great

They're on form as ever

by Matt Tate
22 Feb 2017

Some massive names have been added to this year's Lovebox lineup

Solange, Kaytranada and Jamie XX are all on the bill

21 Feb 2017

Why it's time to celebrate the second division Britpop bands

As Sleeper reform, this is why you need to look past Oasis, Blur & Pulp

by Dave Fawbert
15 Feb 2017

Circa Waves' Ultimate Playlist

The band's singer Kieran Shudall reveals his top tunes

by Joe Ellison
15 Feb 2017

The revenge of the Kaiser Chiefs

The indie-rock band that refuses to die

by Louise Donovan
15 Feb 2017

Star Wars' Cantina Band is Australia's favourite song to have sex to

The infectious song is the nookie tune of choice Down Under

15 Feb 2017

You can now stream Prince’s back catalogue, but would he be pleased?

Party like it's 1999

by Gary Ogden
13 Feb 2017