Downtown Kayoto is Hull’s next great musical hope

Having just finished his medical biochem degree, this 22-year-old is gearing up to hit it big time, with Pharrell-approved melodies and a knack for cooking banging roasts.

Downtown Kayoto has just finished uni. That’s three years of medical biochemistry all wrapped up, done, fini. You’d expect him to be hungover or, at the very least, a little tired from the extended pub session that presumably occurred yesterday, straight after his last exam. But no. The 22-year-old is fresh as a daisy, peering into the camera from his uni house in Swansea, with Bran Flakes, sugar and milk lined up not-so-neatly on a shelf behind him. And oddly, he’s got a case of the blues.

I’ve got a little bit of that post-exam depression, from having such a heavy workload to like, what am I doing now?’” he says, smiling but weary. So there was no end of term blowout, or even a celebratory trip to Nando’s? Nah, I’ve not really had a chance to celebrate yet. I’ve got a few shows, I’ve got to go pick up a new keyboard, I’m trying to work on the new EP, I’ve got people trying to listen to new music… It’s kind of like Hannah Montana.”

OK, so Downtown Kayoto (or Chiko Chinyadza, to his mum and dad) does know what he’s doing next. In fact, his new single Lite will drop exactly eight days after we talk. Flexing his rap skills over bars about the FOMO he’s felt while simultaneously grinding away his studies and his burgeoning music career, Lite is a taste of what’s to come on his second EP Learning In Public, which drops on 6th July.

Merging elements of R&B, rap, indie and everything in between, Chinyadza dug deep for this record. When I was making the EP, there were two paths in front of me. I could have continued making music where it’s experimental, like, I’m just doing it because I want to see what it sounds like,” he says. It was more me scratching creative itches, as opposed to really sitting down and saying, Oh, what do I actually want to say in this moment of time? Do I have anything new to add to the conversation? And can I say it in a way that hasn’t been said before? Learning in Public is the start of me doing that.”

Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Hull, Chinyadza first discovered his knack for making music at his secondary school. I’m not gonna lie, it was decent,” he says of his old haunt’s music department. They had studios and stuff – without that I definitely wouldn’t have started to dabble in making [music].” Raised on a diet of Kanye, Kendrick and Tyler, with a sprinkling of his parent’s Daniel Bedingfield tunes, Chinyadza quickly became hooked and began using his mum’s old phone to record scrappy songs at home.

But making it big wasn’t always the plan. For most of his childhood, Chinyadza wanted to be a doctor, hence the biochemistry degree. What changed? Halfway through [uni], I was just like, I don’t want to do this,” he says. It probably helped that his music was starting to take off online, particularly after Pharrell Williams played DK’s song NAVIG8 on his Apple Music show. I was like, actually, this seems like a once in a lifetime sort of thing. And I really feel like I’m good at it, so let me just do that.”

And now that uni’s done and dusted, Downtown Kayoto has all the time in the world to focus on becoming Hull’s next great musical hope. But first, he’s got to answer a few very important questions…

10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?

I was born in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I was raised in Hull. And where am I based? I’ll keep that to Hull. I’m only in Swansea for a little bit longer.

20% How would you describe your personality?

I’d say optimistic. I’m energetic and quite unserious, but very focused when it comes to music. When it comes to everything else, I’m unserious – my parents say it all the time.

30% If you’re cooking food to impress someone, what will you make?

Oh, I’d make a roast dinner! I can make it from scratch and that’s a bit of a flex. The potatoes, you’ve got to cut them up so they’re not too big, and the trick is to pre-cook them in boiling water and then transfer them to a tray with spices. Yorkshire puddings from scratch, obviously. Then there’s chicken – you know how it is – and a lot of vegetables and gravy.

40% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

When it comes to making stuff, I think the best advice that I got told was to not dwell on something for too long. If something isn’t working, don’t get hyper fixated on the outcome. If you just execute things to the best of your ability and express yourself, accolades and success will come. Don’t get too fixated on the end goal.

50% Did you ever have a crush on a popstar?

Oh, yeah! This is an obscure one. Do you remember that girl group Neon Jungle? I had a mad crush on [member] Asami Zdrenka. I don’t know where she is now… Where did they go?

I’d make it illegal for people to have a podcast where they just talk nonsense”

60% At what point did you realise you’d be able to do what you love for a living?

I feel like I’m still realising. Not to get that confused with me thinking I might fail, but with working so hard, sometimes you can forget what impact things are having. Even hearing my friends saying the other day like, Oh, you’ve been doing the music stuff and the uni stuff, that’s incredible. I’m so proud of you, bro.” It’s like, Oh, shit.” That’s one of the moments when you realise. It comes in dribs and drabs, but I’ve felt it more than ever this past year.

70% Biggest pet peeve?

Probably people that try to talk to me when I’ve got headphones in. Because I don’t like to be rude, so you take your headphones out and say, Oh hey, yeah…” And then they continue to chat to you! I’ve got a lot but that’s number one.

80% How did you celebrate your last birthday?

I went wine tasting with my girlfriend. I don’t really celebrate my birthday – I don’t really like to celebrate a lot. Recently I’ve tried to start celebrating even the small milestones a lot more. So after wine tasting, I had a little party, invited my friends over and had a Korean barbecue.

90% What’s the strangest dream you’ve ever had?

I had this weird one where the whole dream was just me watching myself enter this white room. There was a chair in the room and I went and sat on it. It felt like I was watching myself for five minutes, but that translated to, like, eight hours of sleep. When it was over I just walked out the room.

100% You rule the world for a day. What’s going down?

I’d chat to billionaires, to be honest with you – there’s a lot of reform that needs to happen. And I’d make it illegal for people to have a podcast where they just talk about nonsense.

More like this

The best of THE FACE. Straight to your inbox. 

00:00 / 00:00