Selected by: Dwayne Wilks


Where He’s From: Hayes Town, West London

When He Started: “2013, I think. My very first track was called ‘The First’, funnily enough. It was an instrumental dubstep track I made on FL Studio.”

Genre: “New-school garage-rap.”

File Next To: Finn Foxell, Reek0, Nix Northwest

Sounds Like: “My music is a mix of all my inspirations. I guess, to put it bluntly, it’s mostly UK garage-rap, but it’s made up of electronic as well as live instruments—coming from my background as a guitar player—as well as hints of soul music with big bass lines. Some of it is sample heavy as well; I grew up on sample flips, so I love to do that in my music.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock With You’, but also a lot of pop records from the ‘80s and ‘90s, as well as drum & bass... Lots of that!”

In an era where music is often formulaic and devoid of any real meaning or feeling, West London native KiLLOWEN’s approach is a breath of fresh air. You might not expect themes of disillusion, emotional maturity and musings about today’s rat race to fit on new-school garage beats, but the producer and rapper has made the unorthodox blend his patent. “I just speak my truth on beats that I like,” KiLLOWEN tells TRENCH. “Sometimes, when you’re addressing something negative, like the rat race, it’s best to put it in a positive package, with an uplifting beat and a message that says, ‘There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.’”

The fusion of light instrumentals buoying darker subject matter really defines his debut EP, Pub Therapy, released in October 2023. When asked to explain the Pub Therapy name, it becomes clear how the project’s sonics, lyrics and title all align. “Sometimes it’s hard to talk about stuff, but not so hard after a few pints with your mates,” KiLLOWEN explains. “That is real life for me and has been for a long time, as it is for a lot of other people’s lives too.” Sometimes venting about life’s pressures is the best way to feel better. Other times, a strong dose of hedonistic escapism is in order. Through KiLLOWEN’s instrumentals and his introspection, Pub Therapy captures both ends of the spectrum.

Having cut his teeth in the local underground scene for the last few years, surrounded by fellow trailblazers like p-rallel and Finn Foxell, KiLLOWEN has more recently reconnected with his Irish heritage. So it’s no coincidence that his artistic expression has developed to this point, as his sense of identity has crystallised. It’s a point that he touches on in the lyrics of Pub Therapy’s second track, “Landmines”, telling us: “It was the journey of looking into my past to find out who I really am and where I come from. I moved out of Hayes from secondary school years so sometimes I feel estranged from my roots and where I grew up. I made an effort to get in touch with that side of myself that I once knew so well, and that formed who I am today.”

Pub Therapy feels like the summation of KiLLOWEN’s personal and artistic growth. Although the feelings of disillusion and the need for escape describe his condition, he also finds himself speaking for many others in society. Achieving reliability through being personal is a tough task for an artist, but KiLLOWEN has managed it. “Everything in life has been leading up to this,” he says in a final explanation of the EP. “This project is basically about coming to terms with emotional maturity and what that looks like in real time. I was writing it as I was becoming a man myself. All the growth I did as a person was reflected in this body of work, sonically, and through the songwriting as well.” Get yourself clued-up on all things KiLLOWEN. His time is now.

Posted on March 13, 2024