WORDS + INTERVIEW BY ASAD RAJA
Down to earth is the best way to describe Kadeem Tyrell. An R&B artist from South London, Kadeem drew upon his family’s musical influences to discover (and then re-discover) his love for singing. While his brother, P-rallel, followed in his father’s footsteps to become a DJ, Kadeem found his passion in writing romantic, soulful ballads.
A couple of rejections from producers early into his career led Kadeem on a detour into photography before being drawn back by music, releasing his first track, ‘Memories’, in 2016. The track put him on the map after getting plays by DJ EZ and led to an organic collaboration in the form of ‘Fooled EP’ with RYN – when working at Selfridges, Kadeem’s coworkers would play the track in store which led to his vocals catching the ear of the garage producer. The electronic, garage-soul influenced ‘Fooled EP’ is a strong debut project, channelling the likes of Kelela, SBTRKT and Disclosure, with dope cover art by the artist behind Little Simz’ ‘A Curious Tale Of Trials + Persons’. Kadeem worked with RYN to create the EP entirely online, the pair meeting for the first time at their first live show.
Kadeem’s ability to make connections and collaborate online proved invaluable when creating his latest project, ‘As Time Goes By’, entirely in his flat during a lockdown. The EP includes collaborations with Omar, ENNY, Shae Universe, XVR BLK, Geovarn and Morgan Monroe.
“I discovered more of my introverted side. Because I’m quite an extrovert – I love going out and talking to people. I didn’t realise there was an introvert within me. I loved being inside and the process of being able to record on my own at home. All my focus was on the project. And I was also able to make mistakes and not feel judged. And just take my time with it and not feel rushed.”
‘As Time Goes By’ is a refined, smooth R&B project. The opening track, ‘All My Love’ (featuring Omar) has a grand, sweet and classic vibe, instantly reminiscent of Silk Sonic. ‘Let Me Know’ featuring Shae Universe and Geovarn is another stand out where the three artists exhibit palpable chemistry. Shae’s vocals stretch to the sky effortlessly, Kadeem flits between singing and rapping for a head-bopping verse, and Geovarn rounds the track off with a floating outro. A full-circle moment, the track is a reimagining of an original version off of Kadeem’s 2018 EP, ‘Feels’.
‘Feels’ also features the track ‘Moon’, an example of Kadeem’s ability to sound at home on a skippier, drum-led beat. Kadeem basks in devotion on the sticky, staccato hook: “You. Are all. I want. And need, yes you. I’ll take you away, away to the moon.” The track evokes Mac Miller and KAYTRANADA (which makes sense, considering Kadeem originally recorded it to an early KAYTRANADA beat).
“When it comes to the flows, that’s the bit that just comes out of me. And that’s the bit that people think sounds very 90s, very old school. I’m a big fan of A Tribe Called Quest and Aaliyah, I love their flows.”
The heartfelt themes in Kadeem’s songwriting are an extension of his sensitive, empathetic observations. To him, love informs most facets of life in some way or another.
“The way that I write, it’s often about different people’s stories. And certain times it’s not even about romantic love. Like ‘How it Feels’ and ‘Do your thing’ off this EP are both about a friend who was treating me wrong. But the way I’ve written it, it’s more open to interpretation. I think the modern take on love should be, if you want to love, love. And love whoever. If you want to write about it or sing about it… If you don’t want to be in love that’s fine as well. And everyone’s love is different, so it’s important people don’t compare their love to anyone else’s. But I think your first love should always be yourself. Because if you don’t love yourself, there’s no way you can give the best of yourself to someone else.”
The struggle to love oneself is a theme Kadeem captures on his biggest track to date – the vulnerable and emotionally potent ‘April 25th’, featuring Ego Ella Mai. Ego’s sunset vocals layer with Kadeem’s for a beautiful hook over a soft, Tom Misch style guitar.
“Ego is an amazing writer. With her, you can talk to her about something and she will get it straight away. So it was easy to explain what men are going through and work with her to put it into words. The song is about not falling into the box of what society says you should be like as a man. I was actually crying by the end of the track. I do feel somewhat of a responsibility to let it be known that it’s okay for men to have a sensitive side.”
Kadeem has ambitions for more collaborations in the future, specifically mentioning Tiana Blake, Ragz Originale, Tiana Major9, JVCK JAMES, BenjiFlow, D’Mile (production for Lucky Daye, Silk Sonic), Jaz Karis and Giveon, with his number one pick going to Cleo Sol – “I would love to even just be fly on the wall to see how she writes.”
Still, those ambitions don’t lessen Kadeem’s determination to stay independent, even if it means taking on jobs to cover costs, working as a Royal Mail Postman by day. The driving force for him is a firm vision for his music and a desire to have a hand-on approach in getting there.
“My mum always says, I’m very hands on. I wouldn’t like it if someone was telling me when or if a song can come out. I think what’s keeping it fun for me right now is that it’s on my own terms, and whatever I think is right can happen. I always say this, what I want is to one day be as big as Seal. I want to be accepted by so many different genres and cultures. And child-friendly too – I don’t swear in my music. I want it to be worldwide. Music you can play anywhere and everywhere.”
Kadeem Tyrell’s new EP, ‘As Time Goes By’, is out now.