Bands to Watch #409: KAWALA

By on Friday, 6th July 2018 at 12:00 pm

Header photo of KAWALA by Aron Klein; words by Lily Cresswell

Five-piece London band KAWALA are a relatively new addition to the alternative-pop music scene, making their debut with single ‘Small Death’. Contrary to popular belief, the name does not appear to be a reference to the cane flute commonly used in Arabic music, though its addition would be rather interesting to the band’s sound. The fresh new group consists of Jim Higson (vocals), Daniel McCarthy (guitar, backing vocals), Ben Batten (drums), Reeve Coulson (bass guitar) and Dan Lee (guitar).

The most striking thing about this single ‘Small Death’ is the variety of sounds and moods that are all entwined within this one song. There are soft and acoustic undertones, enhanced by vocal harmonies that weave in and out of each other seamlessly, but yet there is also a hint of a typical indie upbeat vibe signified by the bright, staccatoing guitars. Throughout ‘Small Death’, Higson touches upon topics of melancholy, self-discovery and love through cryptic lyrics that add a poetic beauty to the song like, “Hold me here / wash away / take me from day to day / and do I care or will I cave?” The lyrics touch upon death in both literal and figurative ways – “This could be my last breath (why am I supposed to care?)” – takes the single to a deeper place. ‘Small Death’ successfully hit a sweet spot of mellow liveliness, piling the pressure on the group for their then forthcoming EP.

Despite the high standards of the first single, debut EP ‘D.I.L.Y.D’ meets them and goes beyond, foreshadowing exciting things to come from KAWALA. The EP consists of four tracks, the aforementioned ‘Small Death’, ‘Do It Like You Do’, ‘Funky’ and ‘Mighty River’, each showcasing the diverse sounds of the band. The electricity of the EP has already been picked up by Spotify, who have been giving the band substantial amounts of support and have included tracks from it on several nationwide playlists. The band have also sold out numerous headline shows and played festivals such as Dot to Dot Festival and The Great Escape. This early success is due to continue with more gigs and festivals in the pipeline, perhaps most notably their headline show last night at the BBC’s Radio 1 Introducing show at London Lexington alongside supports Apre and Zuzu.

Despite being a pretty new group, they’ve already released a series of visuals to captivate fans and welcome them to their world. Alongside the EP, Kawala have released an official music video for the spelled-out EP title track ‘Do It Like You Do’. The video is simple but poignant, showing all sorts of people from different walks of life, perhaps a nod to the sort of audience you can expect from a band with such accessible music. They’ve also released a tour video to accompany the single ‘Funky’, titled ‘A KAWALA Story’. Although it’s easy to hear this in their music, the personality of each band member shines through and shows us the fun and energy they put into each tune. If their live shows this year, including the aforementioned show at the Lexington and appearances at RIZE festival in London next month and Manchester’s Neighbourhood Festival in October, live up to KAWALA’s growing hype, their future is very bright indeed.

For more information on dates and how to get tickets, visit KAWALA’s official Facebook page. The EP ‘D.I.L.Y.D’ is now out on Mahogany Records, the new venture between Mahogany Sessions and Marathon Artists.

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[…] first impression of their sound was how similar it is to another London duo we introduced you all to last year, Kawala. I’m not the only one to have noticed this sameness: late last year, the two acts were […]

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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