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Words By Alice Hingley

Kadeem Tyrell’s velvety vocal hues are reminiscent of a golden era of R&B. Following the release of EP ‘As Time Goes By’ last month, he’s found himself on the radar of musical institutions including Radio 1Xtra and Wonderland. Mission Statement were lucky enough to catch up with him over the phone to get an insight into his artistic vision.

Image Credit: @narcography_

Chatting to us as he caught up on the latest instalment of Stranger Things, Tyrell’s bubbly disposition is infectious as he talks about the reaction to his “Jagged Edge inspired” Single ‘I Want You’: “It's been really good. I was scared of putting it out; putting out new music is always scary but now I'm excited.” It seems his excitement was predictive of the glowing response the single has received. His anxiety is humanising, as he elaborates on the unsettling nature of being an artist in the fast paced Internet-era: “A lot of the time I get lost in feeling as if I need to change myself and my sound to fit in. I think a lot of artists feel that and don't admit it. There's pressure for things to work fast. We feel that we need to adapt to what is happening now.”

This mental obstacle could pose a significant threat to an artist with a sound as nostalgic as Tyrell’s and I prompt him on how he navigates this artistic parameter: “everyone was saying how it [the music] is a different vibe, but I couldn't tell if that was a good thing or not. With each project I come to realise there isn't anyone like me, my music reminds people of a time. That's what I really love.” Knowing himself and his sound appears to be characteristic of the crooner's creative process. Reflecting on creativity in his home life he tells me how his parents were both musical, and from a young age he was exposed to “that kind of music [R&B]. I tried to steer away from it, but every time I tried it was like, it still sounds 90s.” It’s evident such smoothness is embedded in his DNA and Tyrell has come to embrace the beauty of his nostalgic yet unique sound.

Surprisingly, despite the gooey romanticism of his lyrics, he tells me that he is not a hopeless romantic, but instead enjoys twisting the narrative of what society considers romance: “I'm just so into the R&B thing that it's just in me to write about love. A lot of my songs have been from the perspective of other people's experiences or even a friendship. But I’ll change the song to make it sound like I'm talking about a lover. I don't like to stick to the idea of a relationship; if you listen to the lyrics it could be about anyone. One of my songs that means the most to me is about a friendship that doesn't exist anymore.”

Image Credit: @narcography_

Expanding on his creative process, the singer explains how the Lockdown age created an environment that enabled “the best process of making music, it was a good time for me to focus”. Forcing experimentation with non-traditional recording practices, Tyrell tells me how the EP was recorded almost entirely from his utility room when “everywhere else.. you could just hear echoes of everything”. Leaving the solitary confines of the utility room behind him, collaboration has re-entered his process with the EP hosting features from Omar and Shae Universe: “I love collaborating. I like the textures of different voices. I never see songs as just mine, it's mine and the producers. I'll be like 'this is awesome. We made it.' I always make sure I credit their names too”. He elaborates on how working with other creatives enables him to reach outside his comfort zone, pushing him to “do or say things I wouldn't usually.” His creative spirit is ambitious, as he aims to foster an atmosphere that uplifts everyone involved: “my approach is hands on, but I want you to feel comfortable to say whatever you want.” A trend which is thematic right from early stages of production, right down to crafting visuals for his music: “my videos stress me out! I'm very hands on. [...] my friends come along and become part of our team, if I don't have them with me, I kind of panic [...] I usually have an idea [of visuals] and then I go to a Director and ask them to make it better but I want everyone to be free with what they do.” As we talk, the pride and love he has for his peers becomes evident. Not just in the professional creative setting, but also as consumer and proud Londoner: “[The] London scene is amazing. I'll always be repping the R&B and Alternative scene, us lot who are not Grime or Drill. Our scene is quite hidden underground, but I'm proud to say I'm from London and my music is from London.”

Summer 2022 is set to be one of the most exciting yet for the blossoming artist. Continuing from the success of June’s EP release and launch party, he is set to take to the stage in August for his first headline show since 2019. A landmark event which excites him due to the growth in people who engage with his “music so I'm really intrigued to see who will come who's actually going to come to it”. With a presence as uplifting as his, I am left unsurprised by his admission that he is infact a natural showman, “I absolutely love being with my band on stage. I feel safe, it's great energy. I've been playing with the same band from the beginning. My first ever headline, I gathered them all together, this is our music family.”

Kadeem Tyrell might possess the most nostalgic vibes in the scene right now, yet he is still one of the biggest signals of what’s to come and an artist to keep on your radar. A humble beacon of stardom in the UK alternative scene, it’s exciting to imagine what will come next for Kadeem.

As Time Goes By is available to stream everywhere now.

Tickets for August Hootananny show

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