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Kayowa

Musician — London

Name, where are you from?
My name is Kayowa, and I’m from South London!

Describe your style in three words?
Cavalier, vibrant and funky.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
The best gig I’ve ever been to was Kadiata’s listening party at Birthdays in 2018. It was a fun night because me and my friend had no prior knowledge of the artist. I saw free tickets for the event on Dice, so we went, and had the best time! The vibe in the venue was unmatched because it was intimate and Kadiata brought the energy regardless of who was or wasn’t there. I felt like I connected with his music more because of that experience.

If you could be on the line up with any two artists in history?
This is a tricky question because I look up to so many artists and I have a new favourite artist almost every week. However, if I had to narrow it down to being on the lineup with two artists, I’d say Bjork and Fela. I choose Bjork because I love her trippy, atmospheric sound. I’m also a big fan of her creativity not solely in her music but in her visuals too. Her videos are so fun and colourful to watch. I choose Fela because he paved the way for many Nigerian artists, like myself. The pioneer of afrobeats will always have a special place in my heart because of what he stands for. During his life, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was not scared to speak the truth, regardless of the consequences. Honesty and integrity are two important pillars of my life, so his lyrics hit extra hard when he’s exposing the cruel ways of Babylon, including the Nigerian government in the '80s. I admire his unconventionality and eccentricity. A true enigma!

Which subcultures have influenced you?
Being born and raised in London, I’m sure it’s no surprise that grime is a staple subculture that has influenced me. As a kid, my older sister of six years would blast 'Wifey Riddim' by Tinie Tempah from her Motorola. 'Boy In Da Corner' by Dizzee Rascal was always on rinse and repeat in my family home growing up. Because of how young I was at the time, I associate a lot of my childhood memories with grime and funky house songs that were being released at the time. As a kid I went through countless phases. Emo/scene kid phase, grunge phase, hipster phase... any phase you can think of, chances are there’s a cringy photo of me somewhere in a horrible outfit during one of them. Many subcultures have influenced me to become the person that I am today. I believe that these phases truly helped me find myself, and I’ve taken small elements of each subculture and phase into the present-day to create the Kayowa you know and love ;)

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
I’ve always wanted to have a chat with civil rights activist; Assata Shakur. Not only is she 2Pac’s aunty, but an all-round badass who fought for what she believed in. Hell, she even found a way to escape from prison after killing a police officer in self-defence and up till this day, she remains on the FBI’s most-wanted list! I just wanna know how she did it. That’s some major Prison Break type-ish.

Of all the venues you’ve been to or played, which is your favourite?
My favourite venue is the Roundhouse in Camden. I love the setup. To me, it provides a dystopian feel with the stage being in the middle; almost like a pit. I saw FKA Twigs here in 2015 and she used the dystopian-vibe to her advantage through the use of pyrotechnics, cool visuals and contortionists. I also like that in Roundhouse, if you look up, you can see the roof’s architecture. I’m a sucker for exposed architecture, I think that it provides authenticity in any building.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
My greatest unsung heroine in music is SOPHIE. She was the pioneer of hyperpop and PC music, who paved the way for many artists such as Arca and JPEGMafia. She was also a formidable ally to the BLM movement, especially for black trans people who have a life expectancy of only 35 years old. Sleep peacefully Sophie! Thank you for bringing so much positivity into the world <3


Kayowa recently released her new track 'and, scene'. Listen, purchase or stream it via distrokid.com/kayowa/and-scene.

The first track you played on repeat?
'Ride' by Lana Del Rey.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Everything is Embarrassing' by Sky Ferreira.

One record you would keep forever?
A vinyl of 'Cupid Deluxe' by Blood Orange. If I had to choose ONE track though, it’ll be 'It Is What It Is' by Blood Orange.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
“But pain leads to gain so we dare not stagnate, We elevate to that next state, motion divine”

'From Movements' by Roots Manuva.

The song that would get you straight on the dance floor?
'Last Week in H Tx' by Megan Thee Stallion.

A song you wished you had written?
'Noid' by Yves Tumor.

Best song to turn up loud?
'and, scene' by kayowa.

A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'Pap Smear' by Crystal Castles.

Best song to end an all-nighter on?
'DUI' by Slim Guerrilla.

Any new music you are listening to right now?
'6 Underground' by Sneaker Pimps.
'Risingson' by Massive Attack.
'FullyLoaded' by TM JoJo.
'Aftermath' by Tricky.
'Ps In' by PK, IZCO.
'Anaesthetic' by Arca.
'Nauseous / Devilish' by Vegyn, JPEGMafia.
'If I Could Hold Your Soul' by Cities Aviv.
'Pro: Lov: Ad' by Sweet Trip.
'What Goes Around' by Fixate.
'21' by Louis Culture.
'Air' by Men I Trust.
'Deadwater' by Wet.
'Outside Sublime' by Westerman.
'Don’t B Sad' by Sean Nicholas Savage.

Name, where are you from?
My name is Kayowa, and I’m from South London!

Describe your style in three words?
Cavalier, vibrant and funky.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
The best gig I’ve ever been to was Kadiata’s listening party at Birthdays in 2018. It was a fun night because me and my friend had no prior knowledge of the artist. I saw free tickets for the event on Dice, so we went, and had the best time! The vibe in the venue was unmatched because it was intimate and Kadiata brought the energy regardless of who was or wasn’t there. I felt like I connected with his music more because of that experience.

If you could be on the line up with any two artists in history?
This is a tricky question because I look up to so many artists and I have a new favourite artist almost every week. However, if I had to narrow it down to being on the lineup with two artists, I’d say Bjork and Fela. I choose Bjork because I love her trippy, atmospheric sound. I’m also a big fan of her creativity not solely in her music but in her visuals too. Her videos are so fun and colourful to watch. I choose Fela because he paved the way for many Nigerian artists, like myself. The pioneer of afrobeats will always have a special place in my heart because of what he stands for. During his life, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was not scared to speak the truth, regardless of the consequences. Honesty and integrity are two important pillars of my life, so his lyrics hit extra hard when he’s exposing the cruel ways of Babylon, including the Nigerian government in the '80s. I admire his unconventionality and eccentricity. A true enigma!

Which subcultures have influenced you?
Being born and raised in London, I’m sure it’s no surprise that grime is a staple subculture that has influenced me. As a kid, my older sister of six years would blast 'Wifey Riddim' by Tinie Tempah from her Motorola. 'Boy In Da Corner' by Dizzee Rascal was always on rinse and repeat in my family home growing up. Because of how young I was at the time, I associate a lot of my childhood memories with grime and funky house songs that were being released at the time. As a kid I went through countless phases. Emo/scene kid phase, grunge phase, hipster phase... any phase you can think of, chances are there’s a cringy photo of me somewhere in a horrible outfit during one of them. Many subcultures have influenced me to become the person that I am today. I believe that these phases truly helped me find myself, and I’ve taken small elements of each subculture and phase into the present-day to create the Kayowa you know and love ;)

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
I’ve always wanted to have a chat with civil rights activist; Assata Shakur. Not only is she 2Pac’s aunty, but an all-round badass who fought for what she believed in. Hell, she even found a way to escape from prison after killing a police officer in self-defence and up till this day, she remains on the FBI’s most-wanted list! I just wanna know how she did it. That’s some major Prison Break type-ish.

Of all the venues you’ve been to or played, which is your favourite?
My favourite venue is the Roundhouse in Camden. I love the setup. To me, it provides a dystopian feel with the stage being in the middle; almost like a pit. I saw FKA Twigs here in 2015 and she used the dystopian-vibe to her advantage through the use of pyrotechnics, cool visuals and contortionists. I also like that in Roundhouse, if you look up, you can see the roof’s architecture. I’m a sucker for exposed architecture, I think that it provides authenticity in any building.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
My greatest unsung heroine in music is SOPHIE. She was the pioneer of hyperpop and PC music, who paved the way for many artists such as Arca and JPEGMafia. She was also a formidable ally to the BLM movement, especially for black trans people who have a life expectancy of only 35 years old. Sleep peacefully Sophie! Thank you for bringing so much positivity into the world <3


Kayowa recently released her new track 'and, scene'. Listen, purchase or stream it via distrokid.com/kayowa/and-scene.

The first track you played on repeat?
'Ride' by Lana Del Rey.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Everything is Embarrassing' by Sky Ferreira.

One record you would keep forever?
A vinyl of 'Cupid Deluxe' by Blood Orange. If I had to choose ONE track though, it’ll be 'It Is What It Is' by Blood Orange.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
“But pain leads to gain so we dare not stagnate, We elevate to that next state, motion divine”

'From Movements' by Roots Manuva.

The song that would get you straight on the dance floor?
'Last Week in H Tx' by Megan Thee Stallion.

A song you wished you had written?
'Noid' by Yves Tumor.

Best song to turn up loud?
'and, scene' by kayowa.

A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'Pap Smear' by Crystal Castles.

Best song to end an all-nighter on?
'DUI' by Slim Guerrilla.

Any new music you are listening to right now?
'6 Underground' by Sneaker Pimps.
'Risingson' by Massive Attack.
'FullyLoaded' by TM JoJo.
'Aftermath' by Tricky.
'Ps In' by PK, IZCO.
'Anaesthetic' by Arca.
'Nauseous / Devilish' by Vegyn, JPEGMafia.
'If I Could Hold Your Soul' by Cities Aviv.
'Pro: Lov: Ad' by Sweet Trip.
'What Goes Around' by Fixate.
'21' by Louis Culture.
'Air' by Men I Trust.
'Deadwater' by Wet.
'Outside Sublime' by Westerman.
'Don’t B Sad' by Sean Nicholas Savage.

kayowa | and, scene (2021)

kayowa | The Glacier Tapes: Volume One (2021)

kayowa | Ridin' (2020)