Most of us have sought life-changing advice from an Uber driver. Usually, it starts something like this: tired and drunk, the discontented parts of us surface all at once. In an overwhelming display of uncontrollable emotion, tears drench our cheesy chips as we attempt to explain exactly why tonight, we’re categorically not OK. Right?
But for soul singer Kwayedza Kureya, one fateful Uber ride in LA did alter the course of his life. After playing his first demo in the car, the driver — who happened to be a former music industry executive — passed it on to a label and the rest is history. “It was actually crazy,” Kwaye laughs when I (shamefully) ask if he gave him a five-star rating: “I had to.”
Since then, the Zimbabwe-born, London-raised artist made serious waves with his “Solar” EP, which he put together after moving overseas to study at UCLA. “It hit me straight away that I didn’t know anyone there,” recalls Kwaye earnestly. “I was forced to look into myself and see who I actually am at the core. It was a really, really beautiful thing – that year I flourished.” Sometimes, pure joy is contagious; the 24 year old’s upbeat tunes make you feel exactly as radiant as he felt whilst making them. “’Solar’ is about self-belief, self-confidence, self-love,” he continues, “it’s almost euphoric, in a sense.”
His upcoming EP (set for release this Autumn) will draw on darker feelings and explore critical social issues. “It’s definitely more introspective than the first project,” he affirms, citing his latest single “What Have You Done” as an example. On the surface, it’s about cutting off a toxic person: “realising that the energy you’ve given to a relationship isn’t really what you’ve had in return,” but its underlying narrative emphasises the importance of education. “It’s about the lack of extensive teaching of black history in school textbooks,” he tells me sincerely, “the suppression of education really contributes to the oppression of people – knowledge is power.”
Ultimately, integrity is paramount for Kwaye. Whether it’s starting an important conversation or making a human connection, authenticity underpins every song he puts out. “It’s storytelling – everything I know, I want to integrate into my music in the most creative, fluid way possible,” he explains: “I just want people to feel the honesty. Hopefully people can find a friend in me though my music, someone who understands them. Whether it’s positive or negative, I want people to feel connected and heard.”
Taken from the Autumn 2018 issue; out now and available to buy here.