ELLE Meets Kwabs

'I'm just trying to work out how to be a human in this big bad world'

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It’s fair to say Kwabs’ life has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. From singing covers on YouTube to European number ones, his career has gone from strength to strength.

As he prepares to play the Summer Series at Somerset House, we chatted with Kwabs about supporting Sam Smith, roast dinners and how it’s really about time that he watched The Sound of Music

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ELLE: You were discovered on YouTube – that must have been crazy at the time?

Kwabs: I think it was more confirmation of the fact that this is what I needed to be doing. At the time I think I was waking up to the idea that this was reality, so that was quite strange. It means a lot to have that many views on the video, showing that many people are interested in what you do.

ELLE: Since then, what’s been the biggest moment of your career so far?

Kwabs: There’s been a few. I’ve had great success in Europe including a number one single in Germany and I got to tour with Sam Smith earlier this year.

ELLE: How was supporting Sam Smith on tour?

Kwabs: It was very cool. He’s a cool dude, a nice guy and a good person. His fans are really onboard and welcoming. I felt like I was really part of it and that’s all you can really want when you’re supporting someone: to feel like you’re part of something and you’re not just tagging along.

ELLE: What other artists do you listen to?

Kwabs: I’m really excited about what Lianne La Havas is going to put out, I’m sure that will be great. Also, I’ve been going back to older school Florence and the Machine, I’m inspired by her recent resurgence and it’s made me want to go back to some of her older stuff too.

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ELLE: Do you have a dream duet? 

Kwabs: No actually, this is probably a terrible answer but I feel like there is never one person. There’s so many different, beautiful combinations of artists that could work together in a special way. But one of my favourite voices out there at the moment is Olly Alexander from Years & Years.

ELLE: You’re quite active on Twitter and Instagram. Who are you favourite people to follow?

Kwabs: I follow Tyler, The Creator on Twitter. He’s got loads of personality, I don’t necessarily dig everything that he says but at least he’s himself. I don’t get any sense of an extra voice telling him what to put out so I respect that.

ELLE: What do you do to chill out?

Kwabs: I’m on the road a lot at the moment so when I get home I try to eat good, home-cooked food because I don’t get so much of that when I’m out and about. If I get back on a Sunday and I can have a roast then I will… but ideally if someone else could cook it.

ELLE: What’s your favourite film?

Kwabs: I’m someone who has watched very few films in his life. I’ve got a list of things I need to watch. I did Jurrasic Park and next is basically everything else: The Sound of Music, Beauty and the Beast. There’s a long list. That’s my task when I next get a holiday.

ELLE: You’re performing the Summer Series at Somerset house on Friday. Are you excited?

Kwabs: I am excited! I’ve been there as I used to do catering and serve the drinks there, and now I’m going on stage there – so that’s pretty cool. It feels good to do a special London gig, it’s always special playing in your home city.

ELLE: Your album is out in September. What can people expect?

Kwabs: It’s an eclectic mix of styles and people will see different sides of me that they haven’t seen before. But there’s still get a sense of who I am: someone who’s just trying to work out how to be a human in this big bad world.

Catch Kwabs at Somerset House this evening

Words by: Olivia Blair

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