North West London singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Kamal, wears his heart on his sleeve in his music, and it's positioning him for great things.
Making music that seeks to remind people that they are never alone, Kamal takes listeners on an ethereal journey that unpacks complicated emotions through an empowering lens of shared experiences.
With quick strides that have seen him rise to stardom, Kamal’s new offering “Lose,” taken from his debut project ‘War Outside’, comes on the back of “Mercury,” his hit collaboration with rapper Dave. The track about broken love written in an unfiltered style – that’s become his signature – evokes emotion through a masterful combination of his honeyed vocals and heartfelt lyricism.
In conversation with Notion, Kamal delves into what we can expect from his debut EP, letting his music write itself, the ebb and flow of his songwriting process, staying connected with fans, and much more.
What is the message and inspiration of your latest single “Lose”? The track is from your upcoming debut EP, ‘war outside’, what can we expect from this project?
“Lose” is about my relationships in my life, particularly one that started as lockdown started. It’s about navigating that relationship and how you find yourself connecting with people who you may not have originally intended to get so close to, and figuring out what you want in these situations. As I was doing studio sessions, I realized that I was gravitating towards a particular sonic theme and decided to work towards something that was a body of work that connects together rather than singles. That was the starting point of the EP.
How have you evolved as an artist and how do you hope to evolve going forward?
There’s no direct goal in terms of the direction of my sound. I just want to avoid limiting myself at any point and that I remain open-minded in the music I make. It’s important to me that I keep listening to a wide range of music, which then immediately reflects in my own music. So, it’s about expanding on the types of music I’m comfortable writing.
In terms of lyricism, where do you draw your inspiration from? Is it from stories around you or is it more introspective?
Most of it is definitely introspective, usually about my own thoughts. I sometimes do focus on one specific thought and make it into a bigger theme. For example, I’d have a brief thought about something – let’s say FOMO – and then I’ll beef it up so that it becomes more relatable, weaving in passing thoughts that most people have day-to-day. Sometimes, I do like to write from the perspective of those around me, putting myself in their shoes, but mostly it’s based on my own experiences.
Along the same lines, are there any specific themes or concepts that you’re keen to experiment with or explore in your music?
I feel like that I get the most out of my music is when it’s most personal to me; when I’m not forcing it. This approach where I almost zone out and let the song take its own course is often where I also feel like I’ve gotten things off my chest. I just let it happen instead of focusing on exploring something specific.
Having worked with Dave on “Mercury,” what did you take away from the experience that you’re bringing into your future work?
Just the fact that it happened is so inspirational to me. That’s more than enough to keep my drive and ambition going because it’s such a crazy thing. If you’d told me a year ago that it would happen, I wouldn’t have believed you. So, I’m even more passionate and excited for whatever is to come.
What three words would you use to describe your career so far?
I’d say overwhelming, indoors and grateful. Overwhelming because of the amount of support I’ve had, though I haven’t been putting out music for that long. It’s amazing but also quite overwhelming to think about. Indoors because I haven’t been able to do any live stuff, haven’t done any travelling with my music. And grateful for the positive reactions I’ve had from people.
Speaking of being grateful, what’s a fan comment or interaction that made you happy?
I get messages every day from people telling me that I’ve helped them through tough times. That’s definitely touching. But other than that, I put out a tweet recently saying my fans should play chess with me on chess.com. I’m not very good at it and some of the conversations I had with fans after they beat me at chess were quite enjoyable.
As you mentioned you haven’t had a chance to do any live shows with your music. Staying indoors and working on music, how have you kept yourself creatively motivated? And how have you stayed connected with your fans?
I don’t find it too difficult to keep myself creatively motivated. There are times when I take a break from writing music. It ebbs and flows, but I know I’ll come back and get into a 100% again. I accept that I need those breaks in order to keep myself motivated. In terms of staying connected with fans, it’s just using social media, responding to their tweets and DMs because I do enjoy it. I often have some very mundane, normal conversation with people!
Finally, what song do you associate with your happiest memory? And what song do you turn to when you need comfort?
“Everybody Loves The Sunshine” is always associated with my summers. It’s a happy song I have fond memories over. In terms of comfort, some classic Radiohead like “High & Dry” or “True Love Waits” are ones I’d turn to when I feel down.