Kate Tempest: 2015
Kate Tempest at WFUV (photo by Christian Wiloejo)
In her 2014 book of poetry, Hold Your Own, Kate 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, Tempest has also found that mining that pain and perspective for her art has brought her critical acclaim, international recognition and prestige. Tempest won the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for her lyrical play Brand New Ancients, an eloquent and epic work that straddles mythology and modernity, and last year she was 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 she's played festivals as far ranging as Glastonbury and SXSW. Notably, she's found a fluid space between literature and rap, often weaving her poetry into hip hop gigs, cajoling her 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 she visited FUV's Studio A last month with her bandmate and longtime friend Kwake Bass, she did enthusiastically reflect on the impact of New York's hip hop scene on her own artistic ambitions and touched on her future plans too, including the publication of a first novel, The Bricks That Build The Houses, in 2016.
She also performed two songs from her debut album, giving them a much different spin for our session: "The Beigeness" and "(The Truth) Wise Ones Know."