Kae Tempest: 2015

Kae Tempest at WFUV (photo by Christian Wiloejo)
by Kara Manning | 07/06/2015 | 7:11pm

Kae Tempest at WFUV (photo by Christian Wiloejo)

In their 2014 book of poetry, Hold Your Own, Kae Tempest writes that "the world is a terrible place for sensitive people." While that assertion might still hold true,  this south London poet, playwright and emerging hip-hop artist has also found that mining that pain and perspective for their art has brought them critical acclaim, international recognition and prestige. Tempest won the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for their lyrical play Brand New Ancients, an eloquent and epic work that straddles mythology and modernity, and last year they were named one of the UK's Next Generation poets, an honor handed out once a decade to twenty British writers.

Tempest's 2014 debut album, Everybody Down, was also shortlisted for the Mercury Prize and they've played festivals as far ranging as Glastonbury and SXSW. Notably, they've found a fluid space between literature and rap, often weaving their poetry into hip hop gigs, cajoling their fans to walk through the world with awareness, tolerance and grace.

But Tempest, who is a beacon of effusive and verbose good spirits in public performances, seems guarded and wary in interviews: a curious juxtaposition. However, when they visited FUV's Studio A last month with their bandmate and longtime friend Kwake Bass, they did enthusiastically reflect on the impact of New York's hip hop scene on their own artistic ambitions and touched on their future plans too, including the publication of a first novel, The Bricks That Build The Houses, in 2016.

Kae also performed two songs from their debut album, giving them a much different spin for our session: "The Beigeness" and "(The Truth) Wise Ones Know."

(Note: this interview was originally done as Kate Tempest, updated in 2022 as Kae Tempest)


[recorded: 6/5/15]

Weekdays at Noon

Ticket Giveaways from WFUV