‘The Line Is A Curve’ is the new album from writer and musician Kae Tempest, set for release on 8 th April 2022 by Fiction Records.
It is the fourth album from the Lewisham based artist and has been produced by long term collaborator Dan Carey. The record also follows the critically-acclaimed play ‘Paradise’, which premiered at the National Theatre in London in 2021.
Did you have any ideas on what you wanted to achieve with the new album before you started it?
“There’s never a plan to start with, it just evolves naturally. I get into the studio with Dan Carey and we don’t know what’s going to happen, we just want to get together and write. The ideas lead the way. Usually we spend a couple of days and see what we come up with, then when we have a bunch of songs, we know we have something. Then we’ll take a few days away to reflect on them and go back in with a more precise focus on where it’s going.”
This time around you decided to record your vocals with three takes in front of three generations of people. What was your thinking to do that?
“I always want to do the whole album as one take, as it gives a feeling of movement and makes me excited. This time I was thinking of how to get the most truthful performance with the most live delivery and thought I had to be speaking to someone, an audience of one. I thought ‘what if I do three takes in one day, to three different people? Someone younger, someone older and someone of my generation. What would happen to my delivery?’ It was an incredible experience and showed me how much language changes depending on who is listening. I’d recommend it to everyone to try for themselves. It’s a really nerve-wracking thing to do, but really exciting too.”
Your last album The Book Of Traps and Lessons was very internal and personal, but this new one has a much more outward perspective, while still coming across as a deeply personal affair. What was behind this different approach?
“I wasn’t very well making the last one, I was in some trouble really. What I was going through in my life was challenging and it culminated in some pretty heavy mental health stuff. This album is like me getting out of that, to be honest. It’s about looking for people and connections. Traps And Lessons was about how can we see the traps in our lives before we fall into them, how can we change? This album is about the line being a curve, life is circular and we will repeat, so accept it. Pick yourself up and keep fighting. As I say on it, ‘I’ll fight you til I win’. That sums it up.”
The album features a collaboration with Fontaines DC frontman Grian Chatten. How did that come about?
“It was amazing to work with Grian. He’s a stunning writer and a fantastic artist. His lyrics give this impression of simplicity, where he says these things that just feel so true, as if it’s just came straight out of his heart with no filter. What he’s doing as a writer though is so skilful at the same time, he’s just a really fantastic poet. I believe him and I believe in him. That soul of his, that person he is, when I hear him sing, he takes me. It feels real to me. I’ve been a big fan for years and I’ve known him for a long time as Fontaines DC recorded with Dan, so we’ve hung out before. There’s a lot of respect from me to the whole band, so when it came to make the album, it was an obvious thing to ask him to be involved.”
Lianne La Havas also features on the record. How was it working with her?
“It’s the same thing with Lianne, I’ve known her a long time and have so much respect and love for her. Her guitar playing is just wicked, she’s brilliant. Again, I know her from Dan’s studio and parties, so there’s a lot of mutual respect and love there. So I really wanted to use those feelings to see if we could make something out of it, take that energy we have together and create. She absolutely killed it when she came down, too. I was blown away.”
The album is produced as always by Dan Carey, what does he bring to the table for you?
“Our connection is really profound. I have a true partner in Dan Carey. He understands my ideas, he knows how to create an environment where my ideas can be unlike they would be anywhere else. I don’t have the same ideas without Dan being there. There something about everything we’ve been through over the last ten years of working together that’s just unique. The experiences we’ve shared, nobody will ever know so much of it, or understand it. Like flying over to Malibu to make demos in Bob Dylan’s old tourbus for Rick Rubin. Is just looking at each other like ‘what the f**k is going on?’ There’s just something about those shared experiences that we don’t need to speak out loud half the time, we can just look at each other and know what we want to do. It’s like playtime for adults when we hang out. I feel understood by him and I feel cared for. He makes me feel that anything is possible. It’s deep. That’s not to say I don’t love collaborating with other musicians, there’s just something we have that is pretty special.”
Like every other artist, you’ve had to spend the last two years unable to play live. What was that like for you?
“Like everybody we had to change our perspectives on our lives, as it all stopped. The misery of people losing livelihoods, the illness and deaths that so many people had to endure, that was heavy. Personally though, privately and in my own space, I actually found the time to completely revelatory. My relationship broke down, so I was just in the yard on my own. So I went deep, it was profound. I didn’t have the headspace to do that when I was on tour, but during lockdown I did. I came out the other side so much stronger. Also I’m a writer, so I could still work. I wrote songs, I worked on a play and did some poetry too. I still had that, but other musician friends of mine weren’t so lucky. I feel fortunate for that.”
You finally have a tour coming up, though? You must be excited?
“I can’t wait. I’m so excited about the tour. We have new crew and a whole new feeling to it. I think what we are creating is going to be a beautiful experience, not just for us, but everyone in the room. It’ll be a very deep thing to be in front of audiences again after so long and after everything we have all gone through, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’ve allowed thought that it’s the most beautiful and incredible thing to stand up in front of people and play your music. These last couple of years have given me time to really focus on that, on what I want from a performance and what I can bring to it for people.”
After everything that’s went on and having had such a long layoff from playing live, are there any nerves about getting back to it, even though it’s something that you love?
“I’m definitely a little nervous about the whole thing obviously. Well, I’m a lot nervous actually, but I feel ready. I just can’t wait to get out there and see what happens. You’d be mad if you weren’t nervous, to be honest. It’s a crazy thing to do, when you think about it, isn’t it? I just really want to be able to experience it all again. I hope people will feel curious enough to come out, so we want to make sure that we put enough value in the experience for them to buy tickets and come out and be a part of it. That’s the dream, isn’t it? To have a room full of people and something to deliver. Hopefully it’ll be a beautiful night.”
UK & Ireland tour dates:
22-Apr-22 Manchester Albert Hall
23-Apr-22 Edinburgh Assembly Rooms
24-Apr-22 Glasgow SWG3 Galvanziers
26-Apr-22 Cambridge Corn Exchange
27-Apr-22 Bexhill On Sea De La Warr Pavillion
28-Apr-22 Brighton The Dome
3-May-22 Belfast Cathedral Quarter Festival
6-May-22 Bristol Marble Factory
8-May-22 Liverpool Grand Central Hall
10-May-22 Birmingham Town Hall
11-May-22 Leeds Stylus
12-May-22 Hull Asylum
14-May-22 Cardiff St Davids Hall
15-May-22 Sheffield The Octagon Centre
16-May-22 Leicester O2 Academy
18-May-22 London O2 Shepherds Bush
21-May-22 Gateshead Sage
Pre-order ‘The Line Is A Curve’