A man of many identities, Kwassa (real name Scott Verril and who also works under the name KYKO) is a musician, a fashionista and just an all-round cool guy. Despite still being young, Kwassa has already had a life-time of musical success and has now released his new upbeat pop record, Sad Songs. We spoke to him about the importance of music growing up and how you get to be so ambitious in life.
Tell us about yourself and your music?
I’m male, 6”5, blonde, like big dogs & long walks on the beach. I make pop music which, out of all seasons, probably soundtracks a summer best.
How would you describe your current state of mind in 5 words or less?
Running away to somewhere warmer.
Is there anything you have a reputation for?
I feel every teacher I had always said the same thing ‘he’s a really lovely kid but can’t do anything on time’. So, now I’m doing my best (unsuccessfully) to not take that into my 20’s. I’m sure if you ask my manager, he will disagree...
Tell us about your new single, Sad Songs?
It’s a happy song I made last summer about sad songs - it’s got an out and out chorus I wanted anyone to be able to sing along with and feel like they can relate, because it’s mostly about figuring yourself out, which I realised everyone is still doing at every age.
In your opinion, what is the best sad song?
‘I can’t make you love me - Bonnie Raitt’ (or the Bon Iver cover) - Right in the feels.
What’s the message you try and get across in your music?
Generally, I just try to keep a positive message to match the music I make. Obviously, it's based on what I’m feeling at the time - I’m always inspired by travel. I think youth is a really nice topic to write songs about because it’s kind of nostalgic and feels like it could soundtrack a movie - that’s a big goal of mine.
You have also spoken about how Sad Songs is about the confusion of growing up. How important do you think music is as an aide to help people make sense of the world?
Massively! I mean realistically it doesn’t solve anything, but music is definitely like a comfort blanket to get through situations / times. I like the idea that sad songs would make you feel some kind of sad way when actually most of the time, they are inspiring or comforting.
How did you get to be in the youngest bands to play at Glastonbury?
We entered the emerging talent competition when we were like 14/15, got far but didn’t get it. Then, while we were there, we played a pub in Pilton, that happened to be Michael Eavis’ (The Co-Creator of Glastonbury) local and he was digging it, so he pulled some strings and got us a slot.
You have had over 17 million streams on Spotify, how does that feel?
Of-course, it feels sick! I’m lucky that anyone wants one of my songs to soundtrack a day. But it’s not like I’m playing shows to 17 million people, so I still have a way to go before I really feel it.
Your name, Kwassa, is from a Vampire Weekend song. What was it about that band in particular that gave you inspiration?
The Vampire Weekend album was completely the soundtrack to me growing up in my early teens. Then about 3 years ago I got really inspired by a lot of South African / Hi Life guitar music and ended up coming back to that album when writing. So, being named after that song is just a nod to something that inspires me to make music.
You also run a clothes line. Why did you decide to do that alongside the music?
I find focusing on your own music can be too all consuming where it becomes unproductive because you overthink everything. So, I try and split up my time doing *hundred club* and writing for other projects. I really like fashion and it’s nice to mingle outside of the music industry bubble.
How do you keep it all up?
By being surrounded by busy people! That’s the plus side of London.
What advise do you give to people who want to be as ambitious as you?
I guess the fact you can make a living out of pretty much anything if you want to, it’s worth not settling for a 9-5 if you have dreams you want to live out. Also - side hustles.
You will be playing in London this May, how are you feeling about that?
Can’t wait - I’m really set on trying some things different to what we’ve done live before. We’re putting together a plan for the visuals at the moment to make it look nice on the eye.
What else can we expect for the rest of the year?
I’m dropping an EP shortly! It’s got 2 unheard tunes. Right now I’m writing a lot for what’s to follow this ep, and I really just want to get this out straight after and keep releasing as much music as I can.
Check out Kwassa live on 23rd May at London’s Borderline and see what he’s up to on his Facebook and Twitter.