Ahead of the release of his new record next week, Michael Kiwanuka has unveiled a sensational video for his new single ‘Hero’, a scorched epic that propagates the essence of the whole album into a sub five-minute psych-fuzz song.
The track is taken from the singer-songwriter’s third record KIWANUKA, recorded in New York, LA and London, before Michael returned to the studio with Danger Mouse and Inflo, the same production team that combined so magnificently on his sophomore effort Love & Hate.
Take a watch of the video, directed by CC Wade, below…
KIWANUKA finds a new assuredness in Michael’s writing, and takes the basic sonic blueprint of that last record to a dizzying new realm. His typically assured, bold, and strident vocal brims with confidence, but what it conceals is almost two years questioning his own ability and identity.
He perhaps needn’t have worried too much. KIWANUKA sets off on a journey that evokes the psychedelic haze of its predecessor, but ramps up a very broad sense of scale. With his exquisite band of players, Michael channels an assortment of the late greats (a nod to Gil Scott-Heron here, Bobby Womack flecked there, and the ever present Otis Redding vocally) for a richly rewarding record.
Michael will tell you of his love for records that entwine their songs with incidental skits and shape-shifting spiralling outros, so that the listener experience is almost that of listening to one long, dramatic song. KIWANUKA fulfils that winding, dream-like haze, unhurried, and is peppered with some of the best songs of Michael’s career to date.
Where Love & Hate showcased Michael’s prowess with a guitar, KIWANUKA showcases an ear for musical adventure. Themes that resonated so loudly previously return here, namely Michael’s life-long confusion and questioning of his own identity, but also that of hope and of power. That Michael has spent the past year or two writing and nurturing the record, whilst also finding a newly discovered love for documenting his life behind a lens, lends itself to the suggestion of an artist putting a microscope on his own life.
Whilst many of his new findings are layered beneath a warm fuzz of instrumentation, KIWANUKA is Michael serving from the heart, from the mind, and from the soul.
Michael explains: “The last album came from an introspective place and felt like therapy, I guess. This one is more about feeling comfortable in who I am and asking what I want to say. Like, how could I be bold and challenge myself and the listener? It is about self-acceptance in a more triumphant rather than melancholy way. It’s an album that explores what it means to be a human being today.”
“When I first signed a record deal, people would ask me, ‘So what are you going to be called?’. And I never thought of that; calling myself Johnny Thunders or whatever, like singers from the past. So, on this album it’s kind of a defiant thing; I’m engaging with who I am and I’m not going to have an alter ego, or become Sasha Fierce or Ziggy Stardust, even though everyone’s telling me I need to be this, that or the other. I can just be Michael Kiwanuka.”
Michael will take KIWANUKA out on the road for the rest of this year and next, starting with three UK in-store shows to launch the new record…
24th October – Pryzm, London for Banquet Records
27th October – Fat Sam’s, Dundee for Assai Records
28th October – Liquid Room, Edinburgh for Assai Records
23rd November – La Salle Pleyel, Paris
24th November – Ancienne Belgique, Brussels
26th November – AFAS Live, Amsterdam
27th November – Essigfabrik, Cologne
29th November – K.B Hallen, Copenhagen
30th November – Gota Lejon, Stockholm
1st December – Rockefeller Music Hall, Oslo
3rd December – Huxleys Neue Welt, Berlin
4th December – Batschkapp, Frankfurt
6th December – Stadthalle Halle F, Vienna
7th December – Fabrique Milano, Milan
2nd March – O2 Guildhall, Southampton
3rd March – O2 Academy, Bournemouth
5th March – O2 Academy Brixton, London
6th March – O2 Academy, Birmingham
7th March – O2 Apollo, Manchester
9th March – Corn Exchange, Cambridge
10th March – De Montford Hall, Leicester
12th March – O2 Academy, Leeds
13th March – O2 Academy, Newcastle
14th March – Barrowlands, Glasgow