September 30, 2012

Interview with Michael Kiwanuka

The wonderfully soulful and talented young British artist Michael Kiwanuka released his first solo album, Home Again, this past March. With the incredible emotion and musicality this man possesses, it's no wonder that his album was recently nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize.


Michael took some time with me after his set at the Outside Lands Music Festival to chat! Read below to see what this awesome singer-songwriter had to say about his life on tour, his excitement about his new album, and more, and listen to the soothing sounds of his celebrated single, "Home Again."

Michael Kiwanuka - "Home Again"


Your album dropped here in the States only a few months ago, how do you feel the reception has been so far from Americans?

Michael: Good! I feel the reception has been really warm. People have been so supportive and encouraging to me, they always say really nice things. We bump into people that were in the audience when I’m walking around. And at the shows, people have always been really nice and very warm. It feels really good, I’m really enjoying it!

You’ve done quite a few festivals recently! Do you approach festival playing differently than smaller venues?

Michael: Yeah, we like to play a little more upbeat, it’s still intimate though. I just play as upbeat as I can get. It’s more slower songs and solos when we’re playing in a club. But it’s nice to have that change, it doesn’t get boring that way.

Is touring everything you thought it would be?

Michael: No, I mean I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s...definitely a big change. But I love it. Sometimes people are not excited about touring, and I can see why, everybody goes through quite a bit of stress. But it’s exciting being in different places all the time and playing shows in places I never thought I would go to, like San Francisco, and having fun on the bus. I like going out in different cities, meeting people. It’s really cool.

You and your band seem really tight, have you all played music together for a long time?

Michael: Yeah, I’ve known Miles, the guitar player, since I was about 14. So we grew up around the same area. It’s so good to hang out, they’re the nicest guys. And some of the best musicians ever, I’m very lucky. We have fun, it’s all our first time doing most of it, so it’s good to share it with someone else. It’s so cool having friends and people to share it with.

What’s been your most embarrassing onstage moment?

Michael: Once we were playing in Florence, at a festival, and the PA went down, so no one could hear anything except the drums. But I thought they could all hear us, and I was like, “Wow, this is great!” and I was really into it! [laughs] But then I looked to the side of the stage, and my tour manager was like, miming, “They can’t hear you!” and I was just going for it, it was pretty funny.

Who are you most excited to see at Outside Lands this year?

Michael: I’d say Stevie Wonder, Jack White, and some other really great bands that are here, I’m excited.

Michael Kiwanuka performing at Outside Lands

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