London singer-songwriter Kamal. runs us through his new EP, ‘war outside’.
Bedroom pop newcomer Kamal. has a lot of feelings, and his intimate new EP ‘war outside’ is something of an exorcism. Ruminating on loneliness and the breakdown of a relationship, it’s one that’ll hit anyone a bit wobbly right now pretty damn hard. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Give it a listen below, and find out more about each of the seven inclusions from the man himself.
I wrote this just after getting a guitar, and someone I was close to at the time told me to write in the tuning of DADFAD. I don’t play guitar well, and so it was a case of trial and error to find chords I wanted to sing over, but after discovering the sequence I didn’t stop playing until I’d finished the entire song. The lyrics are about finding yourself deeper in a relationship than you originally intended to go, and trying to decide whether it’s something that’s good and honest.
This song was written and recorded in my bedroom, in a zoom session during the first lockdown. The hook is a reflection on the anxious feelings I was harbouring as a result of being stuck inside, whilst the verses focus more specifically on a break up I had recently experienced. I wanted to make something that combined these two things into one cohesive emotion, so I really just tried to be as honest as possible when forming the lyric.
The “war outside” represents the panic I would feel leaving the house, due to some form of anxiety-driven dissociation, or worries about how my friends would react to the relationship I was in and out of. After becoming so accustomed to the four walls of my room, and my own company, anything outside of that just seemed like overwhelming noise.
Definitely the most intimate piece of work I’ve shared so far. It’s mainly in a style that is a blend of spoken word and rap, which is something I’ve never attempted before. I felt as though in order to convey what I wanted to in the lyrics, the delivery had to be as raw as possible, so I spoke – rather than glamourising the words with melody. I originally recorded this over a makeshift logic beat, using the sound of a grinder for hi hats over reversed Wurlitzer chords, but worked it through later with J Moon so that it fit the soundscape of the EP. It was at this point where we added the melodic section, which transitions into homebody.
The words on this one are pretty blunt and self explanatory.
Although this song’s release coincided with the first UK lockdown, it was written less literally than it was received. Rather than being an actual “homebody”, I wrote this about feeling secluded in your own head. In a sense, the home I was speaking of is actually a metaphor for my mind, and the song is about the idea of only feeling comfortable amongst your own thoughts. The idea of living in your brain was interesting to me.
‘Angel!’ is about the paradox of loving someone who is bad for you. Sometimes you feel such a pull towards someone that you overlook the damage that being with them can cause, and that bittersweet type of attachment is difficult to let go of. I was about to sleep one night when I thought of the first line “Angel, lacing my mind with your poison”, and felt as though that the juxtaposition of the first and last words fit perfectly for what I was describing. I stayed up until 4am at the piano just writing the chorus, and wrote the verses separately after a beat had been constructed over the chords.
Sometimes it can feel as though you’ve lost part of yourself after leaving someone you’ve spent a significant part of your life with. In ‘little pieces’, I address the frustration that can arise after wasting fractions of yourself on people who have turned out not to be permanent.
This is the song on the EP that I wrote most recently, and I thought it would be fitting to close the project with it. The writing is a mix of optimism and melancholy, and I talk about the conflicting feelings that can develop when you’re learning to become friends with an ex. Being so close to someone, but also so aware that you are missing parts of the intimacy you had before. The track is about mourning the parts that didn’t work, but celebrating the fact that the person is still in your life. It’s a difficult situation to navigate, and I wanted to show that through lyrical contradictions.
The song ends with about a minute of instrumental, and a voice note of me and J Moon working through melody ideas. I wanted the ending to the project to seem bright, but also intimate and cosy.