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- Posted on Apr 25th 2012 3:00PM by Melody Lau
"Without a doubt, that's what got me playing guitar," Kiwanuka tells Spinner. "But I went on to discover other acts through Nirvana, and that was when I realized that I could express myself in a way that's more than just punk or grunge."
How Kiwanuka expresses himself is through smooth, soul-infused melodies, as evidence on Kiwanuka's latest release Home Again. Although he's not shredding heavy riffs on this record, Kiwanuka hasn't completely written off his teenage influences. Already working on material for a follow-up, he admits that the new songs are already shaping up with "more electric guitars, but in my own little way."
In keeping with Kiwanuka's rock roots, the BBC Sound of 2012 poll winner recently worked with one half of rock music's current alpha duo, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. After hearing Kiwanuka's first EP last year, Auerbach reached out to the singer-songwriter to express his love of his music. When the Black Keys were in London the pair managed to schedule a few hours together in the studio.
"It was just before I left for tour and I had this song lying around so we just did that," says Kiwanuka. "It was fun and it was really quick. He's so good."
Three hours was enough to complete a track with Auerbach but Kiwanuka definitely wants more of the Keys man's time in the future.
"I'd like to work with him again on a less tight schedule!" says Kiwanuka. "I want to work with as many musicians that I look up to as possible."
Another artist Kiwanuka has felt very lucky to have opened for on tour was Adele. The gig was secured after simply sending her management a few of his demos; "a long shot," as he says. "I think the fact that her manager knew my music beforehand meant that it got to her ears a bit quicker, but I was very lucky and the tour was good."
Understandably, Kiwanuka didn't get much time to hang out with the British powerhouse ("she needed to rest her voice, of course,") but he does note that she was "really nice and very funny.
"We never really spoke about music but I did give her a vinyl to say thank you at the end of the tour."
Getting to work with both Auerbach and Adele has left Kiwanuka feeling very inspired.
"They just believe in what they do and they don't conform to what someone else does," says Kiwanuka. "They both stuck to their thing and played from their hearts and that's how I make music so I guess, from seeing how they do it and being able to hang out with them is encouraging."