Words by Tamay Nehir
Photography by Karan Teli
Getting to know 24-year-old Kwaku Asante, a Neo-Soul/Jazz singer and song-writer from North West London, we unpick the mask of what some people may call a “personality catfish”. Throughout his degree, Kwaku was unsure of how serious he would take his dream in music, however, after performing for brands such as Skull Candy at Omera and other venues like Borderline, he has decided to follow his passion. With support coming at all angles, Kwaku has even had some songs premiered by magazines like Clash and Complex.
Growing up, Kwaku Asante sung in the Catholic church choir and says, “this definitely helped with the build basics for singing”. He listened to a lot of gospel; from artists like Marvin Sapp and D’Angelo to Destiny’s Child and Lauryn Hill. However, around 18 years-old, Kwaku “listened to a lot of mainstream pop, R&B, musicians like Jeremih, Chris Brown.” Asante explained how he used to play the piano and the violin before stopping to “chill with the mandem and kick ball.”
The first time Kwaku Asante started making music was about 4 years ago, where he started to publish his music a while after on SoundCloud. He describes the response from followers and listeners “very encouraging,” it was almost the validation that pushed Kwaku to continue publishing his tunes online. Despite not yet having made any music videos, Kwaku has over 29,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and explains that creating a video is one of his next steps in his journey as an emerging artist.
Asante reckons that making a music video will be very important when portraying his music, but also, when conveying Kwaku Asante on a more personal level. “I played sport a lot, like rugby and stuff” but sometimes people hear his music and picture a “hippie” or someone “super emotional” and he feels that now he wants to show his listeners that you can be emotionally intelligent without being a “personality catfish”,something Asante has been called before. “People have an idea of me, like a super emotional guy because of my songs, someone actually called me personality catfish, so if I do a music video it’ll be easier for people to see what I’m about.”
When asked about how writing lyrics feels, Kwaku Asante says “writing music is cathartic” and that his fuel for writing probably stems from “after going through a situation, processing and understanding what has happened, like the song Fantasy; that was about someone I was seeing like a year ago. I seem to be able to reflect on how I’ve felt at a certain time and learn from it. If I’m feeling a certain type of way I know it’s normal and I know what to do to get myself out of this.” Kwaku says he writes from home, “but when I start a song I don’t write all the lyrics because I don’t want to get too attached to them and try make them fit the song, at home I write ideas down, I write to chords, guitar or piano.”
If Kwaku Asante could pick any artist to work with, he would pick female American rapper Noname as he states “she’s a bit of a genius.”
Kwaku calls himself a bit of a “studio squatter” when it comes to his workspace environment. He says he can spend 5 days a week in studios sometimes, from 11am till 10pm at night, and that is just an example. Any artist could tell you that studio time can be intense as you are constantly editing and reviewing songs, nit-picking at any slight oddities, so this time spent shows Kwaku Asante’s drive and resilience when it comes to music. “The beginning and the end of the idea are very fun but the making it make sense, that can be very… VERY long.”
Kwaku has a lot of exiting things he’s working on for the near future, from songs videos to shows and events. Watch this sound and watch this space!