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Kae Tempest: 'I am relieved to have finally opened up to myself and the world'

Mr. Nimbus | 04/06/2022

Kae Tempest joins Matt Wilkinson on Apple Music 1 today to discuss their forthcoming album “The Line Is A Curve”, due for release this Friday. During the interview, they tell Matt about the unique approach they took to recording vocals, inviting strangers of different generations to listen as they recorded a take, working with Dan Carey and Grian Chatten, and much more.

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music About Their Approach To Writing An Album…
At the beginning of the process, I don’t have any intention for it. I’m just looking for it and I’m letting it guide me and the way that I work is that I just throw everything I’ve got at it and I generate loads of stuff and then I go away and spend a couple of months writing a play or touring or whatever it is, you come back to it and then with that fresh perspective, you’re like, oh, we have something, this is going somewhere. After a couple of sessions like that, that’s when I’m like, okay, I know what this is, I know what this wants to be. Then usually it’s the title. Then I start to get in the driver’s seat and I start to think about what I want from it, but it begins with me asking what it wants from me.

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music About Writing ‘More Pressure’…
So for example, for ‘More Pressure’, the song that you just played, I was just sitting there with Dan. He started to write that beat. I started to write that lyric and pretty much the first pass of it, it’s the first take, the first lyric that I wrote, that was it, the flow, everything about that song just happened in that first time but other songs like ‘No Prizes’ is the song with Lianne La Havas, I wrote about three different versions of that song before I found a version that I could settle with. Lots of different approaches, depending on what the song needs

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music About Dan Carey’s Daughter Orla Performing On ‘More Pressure’…
Yeah. I can tell you a cool story about it, which is that Dan Carey’s daughter who is just coolest person and I’ve known her since she was real young because I’ve been working with Dan for 10 years, that’s her voice on ‘More Pressure’, that’s her singing. I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you this. She put that vocal down before we knew that Kevin Abstract was going to do the second verse, but Kevin Abstract is like her favourite rapper, but she had no idea that he was, so now she’s on a track with her favourite rapper. Like totally by accident. My heart was so glad for this, she’s so cool. It blew her mind. You know, she couldn’t believe it.

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music That Grian Chatten Is “The Real Deal”…
Well, he’s the real deal you know? When I’ve seen him singing, I feel his soul. I feel that it’s really a close expression from his, like from his soul to the microphone, to the audience. The link is so close. I don’t know if that really makes sense. It resonates with me so hard. It’s like, this is the real deal. This guy means it. This is true. This is true. That’s what it is. You know, he’s a truth teller and he’s a wonderful poet. He’s funny. He’s got all this wit but he’s telling the truth and it just strikes me and it strikes me like a bowl and he’s a poet. This guy’s a true poet. You know, for me poet, it’s not necessarily, it doesn’t mean somebody who writes poetry. For me, poet is a word that denotes a kind of way of being in the world. That’s what that word means. That the poet soul is somebody that lives with a particular kind of sensitivity and they channel that sensitivity into whatever they do and for me, like Grian, yeah, he’s a poet man.

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music About The Journey To Living Authentically…
Yeah, it’s a journey you know? It’s a journey. I am relieved to have finally opened up to myself and the world and just been more living in a bit more honesty, living in that truth can create more opportunity for integrity and so that’s always a positive thing where it’s a journey and you know, if you are a trans, non-binary person, then it’s challenging, transition is challenging for sure, but also beautiful, natural, normal. I feel like this album, although it isn’t kind of explicitly about that or those themes, obviously within it, there are elements of my journey that is present in the album, but I’m still kind of processing and working out where I’m at and how I’m doing with that stuff and it takes a little while for it to filter through into the work that I make.

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music About Recording Three Takes Of Their Vocal Performances With Three People Of Different Generations Listening…
The way I want to record vocals at the moment for this album and the last one is as one take. If you raise the stakes that high, something happens in the performance. I wanted just one person in the booth and then it just, I just took it further. I was like, well, what happens to language? The same words, if you speak them to different people, like the words change, the meaning changes and I wanted there to be three different generations. I wanted to speak to someone from the generation above, someone from my generation and then someone from the generation below just to see what would happen.

Kae Tempest Tells Apple Music About The Way Each Listener Responded To Their Vocal Performances…
Like really different, like the way that I was speaking to the young people, for example, I was like most scared or nervous or just aware of how they were doing. It’s not like I wanted to pull my punches with them because I feel like if you’re going to be real with anyone, you need to be real with young people. With the older guy, he got teary at one point. He shed a tear in this one song that nobody else reacted to in that way, then that had its impact on the way that I was performing the lyric. You can’t help it… I think it was ‘Water in the Rain’. Bridget Minimal, whos the person of my generation and the only person of all of those people that I knew, was the take that we went for. Dan Carey, whos obviously heard me do the lyrics like a million times by this point was like, “I’ve never heard you like that.”

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Written by Mr. Nimbus

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