Just a couple of hours before the start of their UK tour supporting dodie on 13 March, I sat down to have a quick chat with KAWALA, an up-and-coming indie-pop band. Led by Jim Higson and Dan McCarthy, a duo that hails from North London, KAWALA’s newest releases are upbeat, summery, and will undoubtedly put you in a good mood.
Both seemed relaxed sitting in the slightly cramped dressing room in the back of the Bristol O2 Academy, but the excitement about their upcoming tour was palpable. In about seven minutes, they gave me some insight into their experiences in the music industry so far, where they’d like to see themselves going in the future, along with some other tangential questions.
How did you land this tour?
The music industry is a shockingly small place – we had the same events manager and sound guy as dodie, and we were added to a list of potential supports for her. Luckily, she picked us so we’re going to get to play to thousands of people every night.
The music industry is a shockingly small place
That is really cool – is this the biggest gig you’ve ever done?
We’ve had one before; last year at a festival in Essex which was about 3,000, which was nuts, but overall the footfall of this tour is about 17,500 in a week and a half. Could be worse, but it’s also absolutely terrifying, so it’ll be interesting to say the least!
About your recent music video for ‘Runaway’ – I just watched it and was intrigued by the Power Rangers-esque/sci-fi plot, which seems quite separate from the lyrics of the song. Can you tell me a bit about it?
The funny thing about it is we barely had any time to sort out a video, and [Jim’s] brother is a really amazing videographer. He basically said to us that he had a cool idea for a video – nothing to do with the song – where there’s an evil queen and we’ve got to save a monster from her…
I liked how you all made friends with the monster at the end of the video.
Yeah, if there’s any piece of advice we could give people, it’s to make friends with monsters when they’re being suppressed by evil queens *both laugh*. It’s a completely ridiculous video but if I’m honest we’ve always really struggled with videos, and this has been the most comfortable we’ve felt because we could just take the mick a bit more and have a laugh. It didn’t feel like we were trying to convey a message or anything, it was completely unrelated to the song but it somehow fits.
if there’s any piece of advice we could give people, it’s to make friends with monsters when they’re being suppressed by evil queens
You guys have got your own tour coming up in May – your first headlining tour?
Yep, our first one. We’re going ‘round the country and to Ireland as well – it’s really exciting. Not coming back to Bristol which is a shame, but I think we’ve been here a couple of times so I think this will be a feeler for cities and smaller venues we haven’t been to, like we’re going up to Glasgow. The only places we’ve really been to before that are on the tour are Manchester and London, bigger places.
You’re London-based – what’s your favourite tube line? (This is a very important question to me personally.)
Ooh, this is actually a hard one. The Northern Line? Gets us everywhere we need to go – but it’s so loud, even if it’s the most convenient one for our lives. Controversial, but the Victoria Line is definitely the most efficient…
Actually, do you know what – this is the closer – the best line is the Overground. Full-stop, I think we can all agree on that.
Very true. Back on topic now (ish) – your band is named after the koala bear. Is that your favourite animal?
Yeah, we actually don’t care that much about koalas *laughs*. I quite like kangaroos? Never seen one though.
we actually don’t care that much about koalas… I quite like kangaroos
Back on topic now! If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you pick?
Jason Derulo, no questions at all.
And your dream venue?
Wait, can you go back there, that was a joke *both laugh*. Actually, can you stick with Jason and just say that we’re kind of joking but at the same time if he came in, we’d totally say yes!
For our dream gig venue? We’re from Kentish Town, so Kentish Town Forum. It’s just the place – we’ve done so many shows around there growing up and in the last few years, but Kentish Town Forum is perfectly in between both our houses, and it’s a great venue that we’ve seen a lot of gigs at before.
KAWALA’s newest EP, ‘Counting the Miles’, was released on 20 March, and tickets for their May tour are currently available online!