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Track Breakdown: Kamal. ‘war outside’

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Breaking down his favourite lyrics from recent EP, War Outside, the young singer-songwriter gives voice to the anxieties of a new generation.

Born and raised in North-West London,  Kamal. is the 18 year old R&B singer-songwriter with mellifluous vocals and honest lyricism laid down on dream-like lofi tracks that perfectly express those feelings of isolation and anxiety that have come to characterise a new generation.

In early 2020 Kamal. released ‘homebody’, the bedroom produced track that garnered major attention for the young artist and cemented his status as a bona fide one to watch. From London to Seoul, he has been added to the playlists of many worldwide, but Kamal.’s success goes far deeper than a one-off hit single.

With subsequent single releases such as ‘blue’, ‘about the party’ and ‘Mercury’ (a collaboration with UK rap royalty Dave), Kamal. has given us a taste of his unique flavour, expressing a range of complex emotions and sounds that are resonating with his fans.

Following on from his breakout success last year, war outside is Kamal.’s debut EP project featuring a selection of songs further influenced by themes of loneliness and young love.

Rather than describing it ourselves, we took some time to sit down with the much loved member of The Basement Community to learn more about his debut EP, breaking down the meaning behind all seven songs and his favourite line from each.

lose 
‘wrote to you in songs, but all the words sound strange’

This track was written about finding yourself in a relationship you didn’t plan to be in, and deciding what to do. 

I like this particular lyric because sometimes you can write loads about a person, but none of it actually seems true or genuine. You can’t always translate your feelings to lyrics accurately.

 

war outside

‘separate lives in separate homes (no love but i feel things)’

I wrote this one about feeling overwhelmed leaving the house, and also about maintaining a relationship across the city.  

I chose the line ‘separate lives in separate homes (no love but i feel things)’ because I like the idea that you can have completely different day to day experiences but still feel a connection to someone.

 

duvet interlude

‘you can only see yourself through your lens‘

This interlude is about a very specific person, and how I felt I’d betrayed them in a way, by gaining their trust only to distance myself later down the line.  

This track is a reminder that it’s easy to stress about things that are actually insignificant. We scrutinise our bodies and our minds more than anyone else’s, and that can lead to judging ourselves based on unreasonable standards of perfection

 

homebody

‘maybe if i tell you that i hate you then you’ll give me my space’

homebody is written about the feeling of living within your head, rather than being present. It’s about the pros and cons of seeking comfort in your thoughts, and being reserved in life. 

The line I chose is about not wanting to let someone in, and feeling that you have to lash out at them in order to distance yourself. It’s almost like a defence mechanism to try and hurt a person before they can hurt you.

 

angel!

‘angel, lacing my mind with your poison’ 

This track is about loving someone who is bad for you, but still feeling a responsibility to be there for them.

The lyric I’ve chosen describes both sides of a person. The side that I was originally attracted to and love, and the side that is damaging. The contrast between an “angel” and “poison” seemed like the perfect imagery. 

 

little pieces

‘when every word you speak feels like a sacrifice, i’ll sit in silence and i’ll stay‘

You can lose parts of yourself in relationships that you never get back. It’s difficult accepting that you wasted effort and time on impermanent people. 

The lyric I chose is describing the sort of efforts you can go to when comforting someone you love. Living for someone else can be draining.

 

curfew

‘you’re still my favourite/you care in all of the ways that i don’t’

This song is about the adjustment of becoming friends with someone you used to link.  

The lyric is about the other person caring about you in a shallow way. I felt as though they liked the idea of me within the relationship, and were focused on attraction, instead of loving me for the actual human that I am.

 

 

Photographer
Sam Pemberton

Stylist
Louis Holsgrove