“It’s an album about what it is to be human...” - hmv.com talks to Kwabs
After three well-received EPs, Kwabena Sarkodee Adjepong, better known as Kwabs, finally releases his debut album Love + War today (it’s available to preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page). Full of big-hearted soul and stirring tracks that show off his incredible vocal range, the album looks set to take Adjepong away from his roots as YouTube sensation and into the realms of a bona-fide soul superstar.
We called up Adjepong to chat about making the album, why Emeli Sande inspired his lyrics and working with Disclosure…
Your debut album is finally out today after a couple of delays, you must be delighted it’s finally here...
“I’ve been sitting on it for ages and I can’t wait for people to have it. I’m excited to finally see people out with it on their iPods or their phones. It’s been ready since spring, so I’m really ready for it to come out now.”
When was the album written?
“I wrote whenever I could really, I started writing when I was at university and I focused seriously after I graduated. I had about 200 songs and then I decided I had to really focus on what I wanted.”
How did you go about cutting down those 200 to what ended up on the album?
“I just wanted to make sure I had songs that represent who I am now, living where I live and doing what I do. I’m 25 now and this album represents what I want to say right now. Those songs might be relevant in the future, but this is who I am now. It’s a real spread from across my writing, some are more recent and some go right back to the beginning.”
Where did you make the album?
“Mostly in Brixton, some of it I did with Sohn, who produced three tracks on the album and we did that in Vienna, but mostly London.”
You worked with a lot of different producers, guys like Romans and Cass Lowe, did you learn a lot during the process?
“Yeah absolutely, I came into the process not knowing too much and I tried to soak up as much as I can. It definitely taught me a lot.”
Can you sum up the album lyrically?
“I try to keep my writing consistent, I try to write songs from an emotionally deep perspective, that’s always been the same. I think a lot and I think a lot about how I feel and how the people around me feel, how we all fit together, it’s an album about what it is to be human, as broad as that seems. It’s me drawing on things that have happened to be in my life, memories, scenarios, words can really come from anywhere.”
Is it a personal record?
“It’s a very personal record. The songs read the same way I do as a human, if you met me you wouldn’t know my entire story, but you’d know there was definitely one to be told. It’s my first album, I don’t want to put everything on the line immediately, I want to tell stories and give people what they need from my music, but I don’t want to give everything away.”
Are there any lyricists that really inspired you?
“I love Emeli Sande, she’s such an interesting and individual songwriter, I feel like there’s so much of her in every song. I respect anyone who can have their own identity within songwriting and have universal appeal.”
Where did the album title come from?
“Love + War really represents a lot of where the songs come from, it represents me perfectly, it’s how we as humans manage our different emotions.”
What are your plans for taking the album out live?
“I’ve got my tour in the autumn and a lot of great venues, which I’m really excited about. There’s lots more coming up that I can’t wait to announce.”
Finally, you’re on the new Disclosure album, what can you tell us about working with the boys? Did you know them before you worked with them?
“I didn’t know them personally, I met them for the first time in the studio, management reached out and asked if I wanted to write with them. I went to the studio with them and I loved it, I’m so proud of the song.”
Kwabs’ debut album Love + War is out now.