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One to Watch: Kwey Le Marchant

Lorna Irvine catches up with the very charismatic London-based singer Kwey Le Marchant, whose debut has just dropped, and talks influences, singing back-up for soul legend Omar, genre- bustin' and potential world domination. Check out his debut album Dance of the Wallflower NOW, and...well... watch this space...

Lorna : For the uninitiated, describe your sound.

Kwey: It's a hybrid of styles to be honest. A proper mishmash of all the things that have ever influenced me. People tell me I sound like Seal, (I don't hear it but I'll take the compliment!). It's Soulful Electronica. With some tribal drums, thought provoking lyrics and something to make you want to move. Think Bowie meets Bjork meets Seal with some Little Dragon and Empire of the Sun thrown in. And all written and produced by yours truly. Because I am an egomaniac, or somewhat insane!

L: Tell us about your debut album.

K:Wow, where do I start? It's called Dance of the Wallflower. I think the album artwork sums it up best. It's about someone holding themselves back when they have all the tools they need to take part in the dance we call life. I know that sounds fucking cheesy, but that's the reality of it. It's a collection of pretty personal songs covering feelings of insecurity, self-destruction, the emergence of new love, paternal relationships, the cosmos, the circle of life, The Lion King, Samba's pride (sorry) and some other random bits and pieces that came out of a good few crazy years in the life of Kwey. But the ultimate message is, you are who you are and you are flipping amazing, so get up and let the world see how beautiful you are.

L: What is the best piece of advice you have been given as an artist?

K: Just be yourself. You don't need to compete with anyone else, because there is room for everyone. Don't try and be the next this person or that person. Be proud of your voice, the story YOU can tell. Because nobody else will be able to tell your story like you. And don't be afraid to let go! Let go of a song when it's finished. Don't keep obsessing over it forever. If it sounds good as it is, whether it's a loop or a seventeen chord movement, then don't keep second guessing yourself. It's just one song!

L: What's your earliest memory of music/earliest influences?

K: Hmm, that's a tough one. I can remember dancing around the living room aged 5 or 6 to Kool and the Gang. I thought they were amazing. A lot of the soul and R 'n’ B of the time was playing from every neighbour's front room. A lot of Anita Baker, a lot of Chaka Khan. Also used to listen to a lot of Neneh Cherry and whatever was making noise in the charts to be fair. I remember thinking Buffalo Stance was amazing ...Seal's debut album, Omar's debut album, Don E's tune Unbreakable and Love Makes the World Go Round.

Aged 13 I actually went through a phase of being a wannabe gangster rapper with four of my friends from around the way, which now looking back on it, was comedy gold. But we even managed to snag a producer, and went to record some stuff at a studio. The content was pretty fucking heavy for 13-year-olds, but we wrote it all ourselves. We'd been listening to a lot of Onyx's BACDAFUCUP!

Following on from that? A lot of the dance stuff in the nineties like the Bucketheads The Bomb and Yeke Yeke by Mory Kante. And Higher State of Consciousness by Josh Wink? Loved all of that stuff. I used to go round to my best mates house at the time and we'd play house music tracks on his brothers turn table, I was about 14 at the time. It was the coolest thing in the world to me at that point, just putting on music and getting lost in it. It still is. I'd say the first album that actually really made me want to be a singer myself? D'Angelo's Brown Sugar. That album blew my mind.

L: There seems to be something of a soul/ jazz renaissance at the moment- would you agree?

K: Really? I have no clue to be honest with you! I don't really keep up to date with the trends anymore. I think there is a renaissance in terms of artists taking back ownership of their shit and approaching their music with the love and attention it deserves. I think there is a shift, at least amongst the musicians that I rate, to just make the best music they can and put together a body of work that is an album, as opposed to a collection of songs that hold no kind of thread. Genre is very much the least of anyone I know's concern when they make their music. The key is just to make good music. I think all of these styles are always there, always happening. If you want to find something, you will.

L: Who are you listening to right now?

K: Empire of the Sun's Ice on the Dune. I am obsessed, to be fair. Absolutely love their new album. I wasn't sure at first, but now I cannot stop playing it. On loop. That and Omar's 'The Man'. Omar is a hero of one of my best mates, Kevin Mark Trail (singer songwriter) and I am ashamed to say other than his debut album 'There's nothing like this, this is one of the first album of his I've owned as an adult. And it is AMAZING.

I got to do backing vocals for him recently at the Coronet Theatre. He is literally THE MAN! :) I've picked up a lot more of his material off the back of that gig, he is serious!

Other than that, I've always got a Bjork album on rotation somewhere in the mix and a bit of Bowie, Badu and Fela. They are my main staples for joy and peace.

L: Any future plans for world domination?!

K: Working on my follow up album which I'm really excited about. Doing some collaborating with a tech house DJ, so we'll see what comes of that. Doing more shows. Trying to take the music, the live show and the art and videos to the next level. Just exploring and being open to positive opportunities. Would be great to get some sponsorship and find a way to make the music my full time job. So yeah, just moving towards growth and supporting the people around me. If anyone want to collaborate, especially live musicians I am bang up for that. Other creatives, different styles of music/art forms, just want to keep building. That's the key! Also working on some other creative projects outside of music. Hoping those bear fruit, too. And living! Yeah! :)

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