Kwaye on rediscovering himself for his transformational new music

“I always try to remind myself and remind others that the spirit of comparison is the enemy. You should never compare yourself with anyone but yourself,” Kwaye continues. “Never allow anyone or anything tell you that who you are is less than or wrong. Even if you’re trying to come to terms with who you are, trying to be at peace with who you believe you are, the simple fact that you acknowledge yourself and you are aware of yourself is a winning battle already – regardless of who may or may not agree with that.”

Kwaye is acutely aware of his fortune by having music as an outlet to be able to work through these busy, complex and sometimes confrontational thoughts and feelings. “It is cathartic,” he says. “As a musician, what else would you call music apart from it being a release or a refuge? We’re feeling things, experiencing things internally and externally, and then we are releasing that musically. It’s medicine, it’s healing, it’s storytelling, it’s totally necessary. Without some sort of release, we are alone with our experiences and we can get so heavily burdened with things that just run around in our minds without anywhere to go.” It goes without saying he’s thankful that a positive consequence of him working through his songwriting with this approach means there’s the capacity to help others too. “The blessing comes because in that release I am fortunate enough to provide a space for other people to then feel connected, feel seen, or feel heard and then they can enter into a state of release as well,” he says. “It’s a beautiful cycle of events.”

As for his new single, Kwaye wanted to flip the script and add a fresh dimension to his forthcoming project. Kindness was written to bring forward a message of positivity. But, as Kwaye explains, upbeat sentiments can fall into the trap of appearing very surface level in music. While Run and Runaway dove deep into emotion and complex conversations, Kwaye didn’t want that to be substituted out just because the message is one of joy. “Kindness has got many meanings,” he says, “but the overall idea is that simple thing that, I think in this day and age, we as human beings tend to stray away from… humans can be so quick to judge, but also be so quick to be sceptical of any kind gestures in public. I make a habit of if I’ve got something nice to say, I’ll say it to a perfect stranger.”

If you’re thinking that sounds cliché, that certainly isn’t lost on Kwaye either. “I can find that cheesy and I do find myself going, ‘Wow Kwaye, are you really that person?!’” he laughs. “But I like to give compliments if that’s the honest way that I feel. Kindness [the song] is that. Also, in the time that we as the world have experienced over the past two years, I think we’re in need of high vibrations. We are in need of positivity, and Kindness is that too. It actually came from how I feel when I’m at festivals and I go into another way of being. You’re surrounded by people where the only objective in that environment for however many days you are there, is to be the best version of yourself and meet people that are trying to be the best versions of themselves and spreading love and joy.”

Kwaye adds: “I hope it’s a song that adds depth to a positive feeling in the sense that when you listen to slower songs or sad songs, we refer to those songs as deep. I feel like it’s possible to feel that way about happy songs. It’s possible to feel that deep level of happiness and joy.” This alternative perspective on the project is a good indication for its overall feeling. “The music that is out is an indication into the variety of sonic roads that I hope to take you on,” Kwaye teases. “The journey is a beautiful one, but the music that we travel through is expansive.”

For Kwaye, this project marks a new beginning in his career. It reintroduces him as a new artist without disregarding what has come before. It’s why the time felt right to have Kwaye feature as part of our Elevate campaign; a groundbreaking collaboration between GAY TIMES and Apple Music that supports and platforms LGBTQ+ artists breaking through into the mainstream. This project is one where the artist has truly found their voice, and has been afforded the freedom to tell their story their way. “Where I might be private in the real world, in the musical world that’s where I shine through in my most authentic and honest self,” says Kwaye. “I tend to rarely have any limit on how personal I’ll go, but I give myself that safety and security knowing that I have all these expressive and creative tools to tell that honest narrative in the best way I can.”

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