After the cameras and the Dior had been packed away, Kwollem let us in on what’s happening ahead of his highly anticipated EP “c2c”. Being predominantly a joint venture with artist Joe James, we were keen to hear how Kwollem planned to follow up his previous project ‘Mellow Grime’, which was extremely well received by the press and his peers alike.
How did you get into producing?
I got a new laptop when I started to uni. I’m from the Torrent generation, so I wanted every software possible on my laptop. I started making music on FL studio with no idea what I was doing, but just playing around with it. I’d make some music and then go on photoshop and make some goofy cover art. I was just young and creative and that’s how it started.
Tell us about yourself without mentioning being an Artist?
I’m a Newham yute, I feel like whatever I do I’m representing. I’m very frivolous but I’m trying hard not to be. When I was working in fashion, I was spending a lot to keep up. I would end up spending 80% of what i earnt looking brazy – even when I was younger I would do all sorts of madness just to buy a pair of Air Forces or True Religion Jeans or something goofy. Now I’m winding down on that as I’m getting relatively older.
Describe your sound sonically, and explain the differences between your debut EP ‘Mellow Grime’ and this new project ‘c2c’.
My sound is essentially a mixture of The Alchemist flicking through vinyl with a normal pirate radio set. c2c is the natural continuation of Mellow Grime. The two are different but at its core remains the sonic identity which ‘Kwollem’ has composed.
The concept of this tape is tied to references in my life. The C2C (Coast to Coast) is a train service that travels between Southend and London – more specifically East London and South Essex. The music follows the route of the train line. Southend (Seaside) which is super mellow like you’re at the beach having fun and chilling, and then the further you travel the grimier it gets. When you get on the train and you get to Ockendon Station the houses look super grimey and then you get to West Ham and it’s pure grime which is translated in the sound. The music remains “grime” – it’s all 140bpm.
Experience making the E.P.?
Really quick – the project was mainly in collaboration with Joe James. The way he works is you can fling him a riddim and you get a song back within thirty minutes. It started off as “let’s make a two track single”, and I sent him an instrumental for the second song, but I thought, just in case he doesn’t like this one, let me send him another one. He sent back two tracks and I was like wow. So now we’ve got three tracks, I was like cool If we’ve got three we need an intro, so I sent him another riddim – and boom, intro. As I said, C2C is a metaphor for the trainline, and I had another track in the locker with DC – so if I’m doing a trainline, we surely need a diversion. After West Ham you take the DLR to get to South East, so you call that track ‘Woolwich Arsenal’.
Name three artists that have inspired you the most and specifically this EP?
It’s quite funny two of the artists that have inspired me are on the project: Crazy Titch, who is pure grime and from East London, and Devlin, a quintessential grime artist, who is from Essex. The perfect balance. And thirdly, The Alchemist. His work ethic is crazy – spending hours looking for the perfect obscure sample to flip. It’s the thrill for me – The Alchemist’s way.
What reaction do people have to your music?
When listening to my music most people say that it’s a blast from the past. My aim is for it to feel like you’ve heard each song before, but with a more mellow sound. I use old acapellas to achieve this. I want the listener to be able to sit back and realise that grime can sound like this – the perfect juxtaposition of maturity and innovation.
Which brands capture your interest the most?
My love for fashion has dropped to an extent just because it’s too easy on the pocket when you love it. The brands I enjoy the most are ACW, Places + Faces, Corteiz – because that’s family, and Moncler.
Who do you dedicate this E.P to and why?
The last one (Mellow Grime) was for Newham – c2c is for Essex. I feel like in my life, Essex has been my second most significant area. My first loves were in Essex. Plenty of house parties, silly stories, getting licked, fights, and getting stranded at stations having to wait till 6 oclock in the morning to get back home – all happened in Essex, so I dedicate it to Essex. Plus Joe was born and raised there.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to do a ‘Mellow Drill’ project, expanding on the 67 – ‘First Degree’ remix I made with Plus Sounds a couple years back.
c2c available on all streaming platforms