100% Kamal: the singer-songwriter making sultry tunes to heal a broken heart
The 18-year-old Londoner spent two years juggling school work while writing tracks in the studio. Now, he’s fulfilling his musical dreams and collaborating with Dave in the process.
Kamal shot to fame in lockdown. When the world shut down and the 18-year-old was restricted to the four walls of his childhood bedroom in North West London, he grasped his guitar and started writing. What emerged was a series of heartfelt acoustic tracks that cut deep.
New track Lose, which came out last week, is a lo-fi, emotional ballad that will have you reaching for the tissues. It follows in the footsteps of viral anthem, homebody, which centres around the notion of being a recluse: “Toke on buds to cope with my mental /She says that I’m kind and I’m gentle /But really I’m just scared to be alone.” Streamed over a million times in the first month, it quickly became a Gen Z soundtrack to the loneliness of the pandemic.
Kamal soon earned a cosign from rapper and musical hero Dave, who recently enlisted him to sing on his track Mercury. “It’s a sick feeling to be able to work alongside someone you have looked up to,” Kamal says.
Now, the teen is ramping up to release his debut EP, war outside, on 11th June. In three words, he describes it as “a bit sad”, an embodiment of the sonic space he was occupying throughout 2020.
Just two years into his musical journey, Kamal is still evolving. “I feel like there’s definitely loads more vibes to explore,” he says. “I’m just hoping that people still fuck with each individual sound that I make.”
Watch the new video for Lose below, before getting your 100% fill.
10%: Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
Born in Harlesden, raised in Harlesden and currently based in Harlesden, North West London. I feel grateful to have grown up around so many different cultures, because I feel like that’s definitely shaped me as a person.
20%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
I find the process of recording and writing music quite therapeutic. A lot of the time it’s coming from things that emotionally have touched me. In that sense, it is quite autobiographical. I take a lot from my relationships, the people around me and their lives. Basically, whatever I’m feeling in the moment.
30%: At what point did you realise you’d be able to do what you love for a living?
I always knew that I wanted to do it as a profession, but when my manager reached out to me, that’s when I knew it was going to work out. Since primary school, I have been in all the talent shows with my ukulele. I wouldn’t say I had the confidence, because I’d be proper scared to do it, but I would still throw myself in there.
40%: Break down your typical day at work…
On a typical workday, I go to the studio, probably at about one-ish, and just stay there all day writing. I’ve not been able to experience live shows, because there have been restrictions and lockdowns since I’ve started releasing music.
50%: Love, like, hate?
I love chocolate fondant. I like the brand Corteiz. I can’t think of anything I hate. I’m a loving person.
60%: What’s something people don’t know about you?
I’ve got really bad hay fever. I’m trying to get some routines in place for when I do live stuff, so I’m not up there with a blocked nose!
70%: What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
I’m definitely addicted to my phone.
80%: If you could travel back in time to see an iconic music act perform, who would it be and in what era of their career?
I’d say Prince, probably in any era.
90%: Do you believe in star signs and horoscopes?
I do not! I would not like to comment any more, because I don’t want to offend any communities!
100%: What can you tell us about your next project?
It sounds best when it’s all played together, rather than playing random songs at random points. I feel like there are lots of themes of anxiety, of classic heartbreak, and I hope people can relate to it.