During interviews, he emphasizes that he had never dreamed of taking center stage. That he was only around because he liked playing the guitar and singing. As we heard more about him, we expected quietness, geniality, modesty. And that’s all we received. Michael Kiwanuka might have been a little over-protected and restricted in this chic hotel in the nice part of town; he comes off more as a musician that we would have bumped into coming out of a smaller, cozier venue. He drifts off into his own thoughts, smiles, and remains courteous, curious and incredibly patient.
He has opened for Adele, was signed to a major label on faith (after they had only heard two of his beautiful songs), and its as if nothing extraordinary has happened to him. In the car, he tells us that he doesn’t know if the songs he are going to play are going to sound good, cause he hadn’t sang at all yet that morning, and he had never played them solo … then he blew us away with three chords and his subtle and broken voice. Did his uncertainty come off as bothersome ? Nope. Just disarmingly sincere.
We didn’t cause trouble, we didn’t bother nobody. We weren’t there to act like punks. More to tell stories, remain on the edge of soul, of shifty rhythms, caressing voices, and gentle melancholy. At the Olive Café, it was happy hour at the bar. Thirsty mouths abounded, including exhausted workers and the early morning drunkards. Micheal Kiwanuka asked for a tea, but the boldest thing he did was forget about the people around him. Sometimes, he sang too loudly. Then, he drank his tea.