Exclusive interview with Kwaku Asante who Bares It All In Thinking Of You and Rhodes

Kwaku Asante speaks to GUAP about his new singles Thinking of You and Rhodes from his forthcoming soulful EP, Wanderlust. We discussed his journey as a creative individual and how he came to be who he is today.

In his music, Kwaku mixes influences from Rock, Indie, Blues, and Jazz to create something that has a little bit of everything. His Wanderlust EP delivers an astral-like mystical sound, a shared experience you will have on Thinking of You and Rhodes.

The starry instrumentation of Thinking of You takes you on an unanticipated emotional journey, brought to life by lyrics of pain and loss, wrapped in a presentiment of healing.  When asked about this ostensibly dreamy single, Kwaku says: “Thinking of You really delves into the feeling of regret we face when we take someone for granted so much they eventually leave and find someone better. It unpacks all the feelings that resurface when we see them happy, realising how much care we have for them and the longing to get them back.”

As his first release of 2022, Kwaku dropped his single Rhodes to detail the journey of realising that he didn’t know what he had until it was gone.

What was the inspiration behind the title “Rhodes” ?

In the chorus it says “all these Rhodes lead back to you.” It’s like a play on words of the instrument. It means whatever I do, I can’t stop singing about you. All these notes on the Rhodes piano as well as the roads riding around the world. It’s like a figure of speech. Yeah. Well that’s why I called it. Nothing to do with the location. 

It’s not always the case that a songwriter can thoroughly express heartbreak or any emotion in one song. Can we expect to hear the inspiration behind Rhodes in future songs?

Yeah, so this is actually quite bad, but like when it comes to it, a lot of men are with women for an ego boost. I wrote it in the middle of a lockdown and I’m talking about how my finances aren’t good right now and that my mental health isn’t there. I went back to a girl I used to see because it was an easy in. I know she wants to give it a go.  This song is just a take on bad dynamics. Everybody wants a relationship without having to be in one, you know what I mean? 

Do you find that your music works as an effective form of communication and does it solve the dilemmas you sing about?

I’m very intentional with what I do. When I’m writing the song, I think about the situation not necessarily to solve the problem, but to have a more well rounded view of what is going on. I understand how I feel in the situation and how she may feel about what she’s told me.  

Yeah, it doesn’t always solve the problem, but it always gives me more clarity on the situation. Sometimes it solves it. If it’s like something that ended, something carrying on or something that’s frustrating, I’m at peace with how I feel because I’ve looked at it from a different view. Before I put a song out, I play it to friends and we create a forum to discuss. 

You’ve crafted Wanderlust based on your own experiences as a man. You have a predominantly female presenting audience. Did this present any challenges to you?

I don’t really find it to be… a problem. I’ve written the same way from the beginning to where I am right now. I just sing about my experiences and I’ve always lived by the saying  “ the universe stems from the specific.”

I’m transparent and I’m open about my life experiences . Although I identify as a heterosexual cis male, we’ve all loved the wrong person, we’ve all loved someone, we’ve all given time to someone that shouldn’t have been given that time. We have regrets, we have high hopes, we have dreams, these are the things that I write about, and although they are about my life experiences that are completely different from anyone else on the spectrum, I don’t feel like it poses an issue. These are all human feelings that we feel, and I don’t think it will ever present an issue because we all have feelings and they are volatile and beautiful. That is what I document through my point of view. I don’t think it will ever be a problem as long as I stay honest.

A private acoustic performance by Kwaku was held at Sketch London earlier this month. The singer played a selection of his songs to his fans in the eccentrically designed room, Sketch Parlour.

Your acoustic performance at Sketch early this month was a special night for your fans? Do you tap into different personas when recording in the studio versus when performing live?

100%. I do tap into different personas when either recording or performing live. The recordings are MP3s on VSPs that are going to be there forever. I have to be very intune, very inside, look inward, and be very quiet and reserved to transport myself back to the feeling that I had, that I am writing about. Just so I can make the lyrics and paint the picture as vivid as possible for the listener to listen to, because there are no do-overs. Once the song is done and up, how I felt is encapsulated, it’s a timestamp. 

When I’m performing live, it’s a completely different type of Kwaku on the spectrum of Kwaku’s. I just feel like when people go to a live show, it’s a performance. You’re meant to communicate how you feel about the record in the room by performing. 

Whether you be animated or aggressive, sensual or passionate, I feel like it’s very important to understand the two different spaces, even though you are singing the same song. It requires a different part of you in order to get your point across. So 100%, there are two separate sides of me.

Imagine you are stuck in an elevator. You have no idea when you’re going to be rescued, but there is one song on repeat. Which one of your songs would you like to have on repeat?

My songs?! Probably Illusions or….The End. You’ll like The End. It’s the last track of Honeycomb.  So either The End or Illusions.

As an artist, what career milestones are you looking forward to?

I obviously have the milestones of wanting to tour Europe, America, Asia, and Australia, and like hopefully win awards. But I don’t really try to look too far into the future. I don’t want to kind of rob myself of the moment now. I mean those are really generic milestones. I don’t really try to look too far into the future, I try to focus on now, make the most of what’s in front of me and just stay committed to the cause. 

The emotion and vulnerability that Kwaku conveys in his music is authentic. He has been on a journey of self discovery, and is now at a new phase in his life, both personally and professionally. Check out these songs Thinking Of You and Rhodes, as a prelude to his upcoming impassioned EP.

Written by Bethel Haimanot