Kwes | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, June 14th, 2024  


Special Blend

Jun 17, 2009 Kwes Photography by Derrick Santini Bookmark and Share

London-based producer and music artist Kwes has a thing for a good cup of tea. He enjoys drinking the stuff so much that since last July, he has released a steady stream of mixtapes, each named and inspired by the taste and aroma of a particular blend: “Lapsang Souchong,” “Earl Grey,” “Lady Grey,” “Illegal Tea,” and “Rooibos.” Even his own compositions—such as his personal favorite to date, “Rich Tea”—can’t escape the influence of the throat-soothing beverage.

“It’s a wonder of the world,” says Kwes. “I think it’s just something I find very relaxing and quite engaging, especially when I’m in a tea shop. In this one tea shop I go to, there are several different sample jars of tea leaf blends, so you can pop the lid off each one and smell them one after the other. It’s sick.”

One would think with all the different projects Kwes is constantly involved in, he’d be a bigger coffee drinker. When the young multitasker is not spending his days reworking tracks by Hot Chip, The Invisible, Cibelle, Klaxons, and Beck, or taking on production duties for Ghostpoet, Esser, Post War Years, and numerous other artists, he’s developing his own catalog of songs, with his first official single “Hearts in Home/Tissues” recently released as a 7” and digital download.

“I keep extensive hours,” Kwes admits of his heavy workload. “But that’s only because they are self-inflicted. Once I start work on something, I can’t help but work on it for as long as I can. Because work is pretty much also play, sometimes I forget about sleep.”

An experimental artist, Kwes creates what he describes as a type of “free pop,” which teeters between accessible melody and effects-driven atmosphere. Kwes largely attributes this fluid blend of components to his music-color synesthesia, a neurological sensation in which certain music tones stimulate specific visual responses.

Kwes explains: “It’s something I’ve had for as long as I can remember, and it basically involves musical notes corresponding with particular colors appearing in my peripheral field of vision when being heard. The corresponding notes and colors have never ever changed since first experiencing them. An example would be any form of a C chord would have blue in it, and the other notes which are not C accompanying that C chord would have an effect on the type of blue it is. Majors tend to be slightly brighter. The same applies for D, which is always yellow/green, E which is yellow/gold, F which is violet/blue, G is orange, and so on. It helps a little when it comes to thinking about the mood of whatever I’m working on.”

Once the tone of a particular track is established, Kwes says it becomes important not to overwork the material. “I’m not much of a tinkerer,” he says. “I’ve learnt over the years that I become quite frustrated when I spend ages trying to refine something sonically. Imperfection is something I really embrace and love. It’s lovely. It’s about capturing moments for sure, more than anything.”

Kwes looks forward to writing more tracks for his full-length debut, which he hopes to finish sometime this year, and doesn’t see his busy schedule changing anytime soon. “I’ll probably be drinking some more tea into the new year and working loads to give birth to sweet music. Quality over quantity, then quantity of quality.” (


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