It may have been fate that put globetrotting 22 year old singer-songwriter KWAYE in the back of the Uber that ended up delivering him to his first record deal, but it was a lifetime of preparation that made him ready for it.
The Zimbabwe-born, London-raised student was in the midst of study abroad at UCLA, taking classes in African-American studies and the music industry. Within a week of landing he met a producer and the first thing they created together was a demo for what would become his breakout single “Cool Kids.” While still figuring out his way around the city, KWAYE was picked up in Downtown LA by an Uber driven by a former A&R executive, and after hearing “Cool Kids” he arranged to pass it along to Mind of a Genius label head David Dann. MOAG provided KWAYE with a place to work and record, and within just a couple weeks he was the label’s first UK signing.
He’s quite the catch. A student of not only the Zimbabwean music his family brought with them to England, but neosoul icons like D’Angelo and John Legend and funky boundary-pushers like Thundercat – not to mention unexpected influences like Tracy Chapman and the Eagles – KWAYE uses flourishes of pop and classic house music to juice up a breezy, funky version of modern soul miles apart from dour alt-R&B. A multi-instrumentalist who plays viola, sax, and guitar, he’s been performing on stage since childhood in venues ranging from open mic nights to the West End.
And then there’s the style: Zimbabwean color and swagger matched with the clean, smart lines of London fashion. Even in his first videos, his sense of style extends seamlessly into his sonic identity, blending into one complete aesthetic whole with the effortless grace of a veteran pop star.
KWAYE is a new kind of artist, a utopian global citizen, bouncing from city to city, continent to continent, picking up influences and energy along the way. In a world that can sometime feel like it’s falling to pieces, KWAYE may not only be the pop artist we want right now–he might be the one we need.