Ki­wanuka’s jour­ney taps the mu­sic in his soul

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - LIVE 'N' LOUD -

Ki­wanuka’s style – as ev­i­denced on his de­but al­bum, Home Again – draws com­par­isons with soul greats such as Bill With­ers and even Marvin Gaye. Yet Ki­wanuka, raised in Lon­don by Ugan­dan par­ents, came to the mu­sic the long way around. ‘‘I didn’t grow up hear­ing records at home so it was all new to me when I started dis­cov­er­ing older stuff,’’ he says. ‘‘You just pick the mu­sic you love and try to do that in your own way. Soul mu­sic and folk mu­sic too, I just loved that feel­ing I heard and that felt like a spring­board to start my own mu­sic. The more you write and the more you play, the more you learn and dis­cover.’’ While he ac­cepts his mu­sic draws com­par­isons with artists of pre­vi­ous eras, Ki­wanuka says there was never any in­ten­tion to make retro mu­sic. ‘‘I didn’t start writ­ing songs to get a record deal. I wrote songs to ex­press my­self,’’ he says. Ki­wanuka might not have had clas­sic records scat­tered around at home in his teenage years but there was a gui­tar. As with so many other teenagers, he got into rock mu­sic through Nir­vana and Ra­dio­head but was blown away when he heard Otis Red­ding sing. His first foray into pro­fes­sional mu­sic was as a gui­tar player, find­ing work as a ses­sion mu­si­cian for ur­ban acts such as Bashy and Chip­munk. That taught him some­thing: that the mu­sic he wanted to play was some­where else. He found a live acous­tic mu­sic scene in Lon­don and was even­tu­ally picked up by Com­mu­nion Records, the la­bel formed by Ben Lovett of Mum­ford & Sons. They con­nected him with pro­ducer Paul But­ler, whose taste for vin­tage equip­ment and sounds suited the songs Ki­wanuka was writ­ing. With so much tech­nol­ogy to help, Ki­wanuka is puz­zled that the speed of re­leas­ing mu­sic has slowed down, not ac­cel­er­ated. If The Bea­tles could re­lease two al­bums in a year, why do artists re­lease an al­bum ev­ery three years now? ‘‘You write a song you love, you might start play­ing it on the road,’’ he says. ‘‘You get back home to the stu­dio and the song might be three or four months old. You record it but can’t re­lease it for an­other year be­cause you have to wait for the right time to re­lease an al­bum, which is all about mar­ket­ing and busi­ness. That’s frus­trat­ing.’’ Ki­wanuka plans to re­lease an EP this year.

Michael Ki­wanuka plays the By­ron Bay Blues­fest, at Tya­garah Tea Tree Farm, on March 29-30 and Heav­enly Sounds, at St John’s Cathe­dral, Bris­bane, on April 2.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.