Do It Like You Do: An interview with Kentish Town pop folk duo Kawala
Having just released a new single with the support of streaming giant Spotify, Kentish Town pop folk duo Kawala are on the rise. And yet, as their row of sold-out London gigs can attest, they have never been more connected with their roots. We spoke to the pair about the evolution of the band, the importance of nurturing originality and why the capital is a utopia for aspiring musicians.
Thank you very much for talking with us. First of all, can you tell us a bit more about the meaning of your band name, Kawala?
The name actually came from Jim’s inability to spell due to being blessed with chronic dyslexia. Believe or not, this is how he actually thought you spelt the name of the animal. He has since learnt otherwise.
Congratulations on the release of your latest single Do It Like You Do. It’s a joyful, upbeat record. What was your inspiration for the music?
The initial inspo for the track stemmed from the idea of offering a voice of support for friends who were moving away and experiencing new places.
The video is a bubbling celebration of the freedom to be whatever you feel you want to be. What would you like to say – through the track – to your followers?
We figure, if you’re ever in new surroundings with new people, the best way to get comfortable is to do what you do best – and be yourself.
Your debut single Small Death was different – denser, more laden with melancholy. Also, pieces like Father I’ve Seen It All and Roads seem to play more on the same line. How did the change come about?
One of the most important things for us is to express a real range of songwriting styles. We love the idea of having songs that connect with people in contrasting ways; whether it be getting people dancing, or making them properly sit back and listen.
A couple of months ago, you were playing at the Camden Assembly. How was it to perform so close to your area, Kentish Town?
It’s always a pleasure to play in our hometown. We’re crazy fortunate to have infamous venues of all scales right on our doorstep. We could do a full career’s worth of shows along our high street, ending at the dream venue, Kentish Town Forum.
Your headline shows – both there and at The Waiting Room – were sold out. Did you foresee such a reaction from your fans?
I don’t think we ever would’ve predicted three back-to-back sell-outs! It’s so flattering to feel like we’re properly starting to engage people with our songs.
You first started to create music when in Leeds. How do you feel your North London origin influenced your style?
Growing up in North London, we’ve been subject to such a diverse wealth of talent. That’s 100% been a huge player in allowing us to create the music we do.
Why do you think London was the best place to start your music career?
Purely as we have access to everything we’d ever need here. From rehearsal spaces to venues, to almost the entirety of the industry. We feel it’s the best place to make an impression.
How did the formation of the band from your original duo – with the addition of members Ben, Dan and Reeve – come about?
Ben – our magic drummer – joined after years of playing with Daniel in various projects. We were on the hunt for an electric guitarist and couldn’t have lucked out more than to find family friend Dan, who lived around the corner. Finally, we have our token non-Londoner in the form of Reeve on bass – who we met through friends. We couldn’t be in a better position now that we’ve completed our line-up with boys that are not just good friends, but also insanely talented musicians!
In addition to Do It Like You Do, your cover session of Tom Misch and Zak Abel’s Beautiful Escape was also featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday. Are you planning more covers?
No immediate plans for covers! We enjoy the task of creating a Kawala-style version of a song we all love. So I guess, watch this space.
How do you feel the Spotify New Music Friday playlist helped you with the launch of the new single?
It’s always an absolute dream for a music discovery place as influential as Spotify to have backed us on these huge playlists. NMF playlists have been so so important for the initial boost of each release.
What are your major musical influences?
It has to be the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Half Moon Run and, of course, Jason Derulo.
What is coming up next for you?
We’re off around the UK for all the regional city takeover festivals in May, which we absolutely can’t wait for! Then will come the rest of our EP, which we can’t wait for people to hear.
Any final suggestions you would like to give to budding young musicians?
Absolutely 100% stick to your guns. No one else can tell you that what you’re making isn’t good enough. No one has ever been unique and innovative by conforming. I guess, do it like you do.
Photo: Aron Klein
Do It Like You Do was released on 12th March 2018. For further information about Kawala visit their website here.
Watch the video for Do It Like You Do here: