Q+A: 5 Minutes with Kayowa

This Pride Month, we’re feeling especially proud. That’s why we’re speaking with rising LGBTQIA+ artists all month about their music, influences, and what ‘pride’ means to them. Today, it’s Kayowa

Emerging alt-rapper Kayowa is the sort of outspoken artist who has a really good grip on who they are. Already on the radar of the likes of PinkPantheress (who has a writing credit Kayowa’s latest single, Fresh), they’re poised to breakthrough from the UK’s underground rap scene with their witty lyricism, 90’s nostalgia, and message of self-love. Gearing up for the release of a new EP, we caught up with the fierce wordsmith to chat about what Pride means to them, and why they wish they’d written a song by Owl City


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Art is the reason we all exist. To inspire, innovate and evoke a response from one another, no? It only makes sense for me to be in the arts as I am the embodiment of art itself. From young I have always had a DIY attitude and a creative streak. Some of my passions include painting, creative writing and making music. It’s a way to express myself (cliché, I know). 


Who or what are some of your major influences?

A huge major influence to my art  includes Björk. To me, she is an incredible visionary which can be seen in her music videos and shoot concepts. I like how vibrant her art is, it seems like she’s super tapped-in to her inner child which is why I have so much respect for her. I myself am tapped into my inner child so the ideas never run dry. I don’t take myself too seriously most of the time either, and I love Bjork for this same reason cos you can tell she gives no fucks! Neither of us care how weird we may seem to the world and I admire her so much for embracing her difference. 


Was there a point in your life where you realised music was your calling?

This question makes me giggle because the story sounds absurd. Shoot, here it goes anyway!… When my mum was still pregnant with me, she mentioned that a woman who appeared to have been an angel stopped her in the street and told her the baby in her belly (aka YOURS TRULY) will one day “sing to the nations”. Hella poetic. So yeah, long story short I’ve always known that I’m gonna be a worldwide musician or public speaker of some sort. Either the angel woman manifested it or she foretold what was to come. From age 3 I started playing the piano by ear and that’s extremely young so maybe she wasn’t wrong after all.


What’s your favourite song in your catalogue, and why?

My favourite Kayowa song is ‘dreamz~interlude’. First of all, the beat is so dark and trippy it makes me wanna run around in a graveyard and conjure up the baddest souls in the ethers, if you know what I mean. Moreover, it’s a raw journey of emotions akin to the feelings of not being sure on where you stand with someone. I’m sure many of us can relate when people are sending mixed signals that it’s best just to ask. But in this song, I’m expressing how I’m shy to make the first move, so I’d rather just see the person in my dreams even if it means sacrificing my happiness in reality. It’s giving Wandavision energy. 


What does ‘Pride’ mean to you?

Being unapologetically you despite what the world has to say about it. 


How are you celebrating this Pride month?

By being myself and celebrating my birthday (June 30th). 


How do you think the discourse around LGBTQIA+ artists has shifted?

Recently I saw that Youngboy NBA was featuring in Lil Nas X’s song and to me that was a big deal. Rappers tend to be extremely homophobic and would rather work with rapists, racists, colorists, pedophiles and the worst kinds of people than an outwardly gay man. This stems from homophobia in the black community that is caused from religious upbringings and general misinformation about sexuality. So when I saw this collaboration it made me happy because there is hope that more rappers will be open to working with queer artists. Plus, we all know that behind the scenes, most of these rappers are gay or bisexual anyway so hopefully they feel confident enough to come out instead of dwelling in toxic masculinity and masking it with gang rap. 


What work still needs to be done?

A lot… the fact that we have lost and continue to lose many of our trans sisters will never sit right with me. As we are in the Age of Aquarius hopefully milestones will be made in serving equal rights for everyone. Call me a dreamer but I have faith in humanity to change for the better as we become more tech-savvy and can see the reality of multiple perspectives through the tap of a phone screen. 


Do you have any goals to shift the industry through your work?

My art is creating ripples of change in the music industry as I am encouraging people to be more introspective in my music. Yes, people use music as a form of escapism blah blah blah.. that argument is always used to justify low vibrational music thus leading to low vibrational behaviour. My music is the opposite — it comes from a place of pure love and authenticity which sets me apart. Love is the greatest force of all and it is contagious. The more I show the world who I am through my music, the more I inspire others to live authentically. That’s a huge glitch in the matrix and the music industry is crumbling as we speak… All because of me. 


Top 3 pride anthems?

Count Contessa, Luxury and 1991 by Azealia Banks.


Who’s on your current playlist, and who should we be listening to right now?

My current playlist includes the likes of Skillibeng, Rihanna, Eartheater and TiaCorine. Right now you should be listening to Jim Legaxcy as he’s got bangers for days. I religiously listen to his song, ‘ghost recon’. If I don’t listen to it at least once a day I’ll cry (metaphorically, lol).


What are you currently working on? Are you able to share the news?

Right now I’m doing so much yet so little because I have projects and songs lined up for days. Not sure when I’ll release, just living my best life and vibing at the moment. 


If you had the power to turn back time and write any song in the world, which one would it be and why?

Fireflies by Owl City cos it’s such a tune. 


Watch the music video for Fresh below.

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