WHY I RATE: Kamal.

Selected by: Blessing Borode

Name: Kamal.

Where He’s From: North West London

Genre: Indie-R&B

File Next To: Aeris Roves, Scribz Riley, Arlo Parks

When He Started: 2012

Sounds Like: “A laid-back merge of indie, pop and R&B, occasionally sprinkled with some hip-hop influence.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “I can’t remember exactly, but my dad once showed me a song he recorded in a studio and told me about the experience of making it, and I remember wanting to do the same.”

Listening to Kamal. is like rubbing a soothing balm over fresh wounds. The North Londoner’s heart-on-sleeve approach to songwriting is what draws in most listeners as he meditates on isolation and social anxiety, as well as capturing the universal experience of Gen Z. He takes us through melancholic soundscapes that consist of echoic guitar strums and his airy vocal tone. But the 18-year-old newcomer is more than a bedroom pop artist—his technical background as a grade 8 pianist means that there’s a level of accuracy in his delivery and expression that can be heard right through his music.

Growing up on a musical diet of Erykah Badu, Drake, Dr. Dre and Maxwell, Kamal.’s father also played an integral role in his awareness of genres. “I feel like I’ve inherited my dad’s eclectic taste in music,” he tells TRENCH. Piecing together his first ever song, “Searching”, at the age of 10 was the beginning of his evolution into the artist we see today. Since entering the scene in 2019 with a double release—“Decline” and “Smilingdownthephone”—Kamal. has graced us with a thread of singles that leads right to his debut project, War Outside. Finishing his studies gave him the space and freedom to really hone in on his craft and this heavenly EP is a result of this dedication. “Releasing my first project was a crazy experience,” he says. “I put a lot of work into it and I’m really proud of how it turned out. I feel as though it’s a good reflection of my musical journey so far.”

Earlier this year, Kamal. featured on chart-topping rapper Dave’s “Mercury” single, where he glides over the piano-led opening before the electronic beats welcome Dave’s well-recognised cadence. Making his stamp as a pianist, songwriter and vocalist, Kamal. is ready to hit the main stage next (for the very first time). “I want to make sure it’s a proper experience for the people who attend,” he says, “and I’m looking forward to making subtle changes to the songs when we play them on stage. I know, for certain, that seeing the people who support me in real life will be a very rewarding feeling.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on June 28, 2021