Warp Records’ newest signing, south London’s Kwes, has for a good while remained at the production end of some of modern alt. rock’s most fruitful works – Micachu, Ghostpoet, and The Invisible are just a clutch of artists he’s collaborated with. With his debut EP dropping early next year, the 24-year-old chats to Wonderland about his ‘free pop’ sound and reveals for the first time plans to expand his record label, Bokkle.
What can we expect from the EP? What kind of sounds will we be hearing?
I think I’ve written quite poppy songs. They’re very lyrical – lots of metaphors and funny moments. I write a lot of my songs on bass guitar – there’s lots of stuff in there, man. If there was one word to describe it, it would be ‘free pop’ – it’s pop music but completely without boundaries.
How did you end up getting signed to Warp?
I signed midway through the year. It just sort of happened, really. I had quite a lot of attention from lots of other labels. Warp just seemed to really get it – I think they really understand what I want to do. I think the head of A&R there had been interested for a while. Labels tend to be very discreet about these sort of things. Warp just seemed the best fit – they understood my ambition to take things to the mainstream without compromising my sound.
Are you influenced by much of Warp’s back catalogue?
Warp is kind of a childhood thing for me – Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, that kind of thing – but I wasn’t so much influenced by that as I was things like Captain Beefheart, Throbbing Gristle, or Otis Redding. Melody is the thing that, at the end of the day, will stand the test of time. Dubs and techniques always have a sort of time stamp on them – however amazing or original.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Quite a few bits. I’ve got all these people that i’ve been working with -my friend Tamara, I love her stuff, for example and best advice. There’s also Actress – I’m a massive fan of him. I got to know him when we were out in Congo this year. He’s an amazing guy. Hype Williams, as well. I love Ariel Pink and Drake – there are too many to mention.
Any music tips for 2012?
I always get really funny about these sort of things. I’m currently in the process of sorting my own label out, Bokkle. I’m gonna push to put at least three or four releases out in the new year, probably towards the tail end of it. I don’t want it to be a vanity label – I want it to be fully functional and try and kick start people’s careers – people I really believe in, like Bella Wilde and again, Elan Tamara. There’s a band called Hejira I really like, named after the Joni Mitchell album I think, and another band called Clout!.
Words: Jack Mills