20 Questions: Kwes

He's one of electronic music's rising stars, and now with an extraordinary debut and a budding friendship with Damon Albarn, Kwes tells us how he still has a legitimate fascination with Jar Jar Binks, despite having never really seen any Star Wars films ...



Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2013-10-15
UK Release Date: 2013-10-14

Increasingly, with the availability of digital technology and basic recording software, we are seeing an amazing surge of young voices creating mature, absolute genre-bending music, outstripping the elder statesmen they listened to in their youth with surprising swiftness.

When Kwes -- who goes by no other name -- put out his debut single "Hearts in Home" in 2009, it garnered quite a bit of attention, as Kwes managed to quietly bend slower IDM tropes and put them in an emotional, cathartic context, sometimes working instrumental tracks and sometimes featuring his own vocals. After his No Need to Run EP in 2010, he wound up soon garnering a great deal of production gigs, soon catching the eye of none other than Blur's Damon Albarn, who wound up bringing him on as co-producer of Bobby Womack's 2012 LP The Bravest Man in the Universe. Now, after many successes, we are greeted with ilp, Kwes' debut full-length, and it is a trippy, moving, wild ride into one of electronic music's most unique minds in the game right now.

To help celebrate the release of ilp, Kwes has tackled PopMatters' 20 Questions, and here reveals how proud he was to make a chocolate torte, the best piece of recording advice he ever received, and how he still has a legitimate fascination with Jar Jar Binks, despite having never really seen any Star Wars films ...

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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?


2. The fictional character most like you?

I reckon the younger Bambi, large eyes and head, spindly legs, but with a much deeper voice.

3. The greatest album, ever?

There isn't really a greatest album.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

I never really watched them both to be honest. I had quite a fascination with Jar Jar Binks. He was like a mutant Jibba Jabba with feelings and more limbs.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Music, I'm listening to and making it most of the time. Scouring through eBay and Larking's List, window shopping/buying equipment new and old; I have recently acquired my first own studio, and it will never be complete, which is a whole lot of fun. I've been really enjoying bike riding recently. Apart from the initial costs, it's free, and it's good for your body.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Was very proud of being able to make a chocolate torte for the first time. I remember the oven being half broken, but was still able to get it together.

7. You want to be remembered for ...?

To be "remembered" would be an absolute privilege, it's not something I've really thought about or considered, but I guess I would love to be able to leave behind a massively broad body of work and hope for it to inspire those who happen to stumble upon it, to do what they love for good, whatever craft it is.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Those that love and want to help people.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

Honestly can't think of anything right now. I have a tendency to love and admire those things I deem to be masterpieces like most people.

10. Your hidden talents ...?


11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

One of those best pieces of advice is audio-related, and it was given to me really early on in my career by mastering engineer Mandy Parnell. One thing really popped through in our phone conversation at the time, she said something along the lines of "Turn it all down", and I've been doing that ever since.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

Probably the first mobile phone I bought which was a Nokia 3210 on pay as you go. Had so much fun composing monophonic ringtones and sending texts, and exercising my infantile independence each time I had to top up my phone.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or ..?

Any comfortable dressing gown of any brand.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Never been to the Ritz, but I'm assuming I would be able to afford it or have my bill footed by yourselves :) I don't like doing social dinners much really, I would just want to eat my food and go home.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

If it's still habitable by then, London, 1000 years into the future would be hugely interesting, whether "good" or "bad".

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?

Any kind of rest or a bike ride at night.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or ...?

Coffee from Grind or Algerian Coffee Stores est.1887. Chocolate is wonderful, Green & Blacks or Lindt is always good.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

London, England, UK, all day. I would love to make a return visit to Iceland at some point and really explore it. Would love to go to Ghana one day also.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Hello, do you both fancy a dinner at the Ritz?

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Finishing tea.

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