Kamal and Caleb Azumah Nelson dive into artistic connection

Singer Kamal and acclaimed author Caleb Azumah Nelson delve into the realms of creativity, masculinity and the profound impact of Azumah Nelson’s novel Open Water on Kamal’s latest EP, so here you are, drowning in a captivating tête-à-tête.

Kamal, the 20-year-old prodigy from north London, found inspiration for his EP title in the poignant conclusion of Azumah Nelson’s novel. The phrase “so here you are, drowning,” encapsulates the intricacies of survival and the unintended burden of dragging others under, mirroring the thematic depth of Kamal’s liquid-inspired tracks.

The connection between the two artistes blossomed as Kamal reached out to Azumah Nelson for permission to use the novel-inspired title. The synergy became apparent – both artistes masterfully navigate the turbulence of romantic relationships and find solace in the therapeutic power of music, a theme prevalent in Azumah Nelson’s novels, including the recent Small Worlds, available for sale at the website by independent publisher Narrative Landscape Press

Their conversation, featured on Dazed in March, uncovers the organic evolution of their creative bond. Kamal, enamoured by Azumah Nelson’s literary style and the portrayal of people of colour in London, praises the author’s ability to weave music seamlessly into his narratives. The reciprocity is evident as Azumah Nelson commends Kamal’s voice, songwriting intricacy, and the transcendental quality present in their respective works.

Delving into their creative processes, the duo discusses the delicate balance of emotion and expression. Kamal, whose work explores vulnerability as an empowering force, aligns with Azumah Nelson’s approach to fictionalising memory and tapping into a range of emotions for artistic expression.

The intersection of their work with conceptions of masculinity sparks an engaging dialogue. Kamal emphasises the complexity of masculinity, urging a holistic embrace of both masculine and feminine aspects. Azumah Nelson reflects on the expansion beyond binary definitions, advocating for candidness and vulnerability.

The conversation concludes with reflections on the reinterpretation of their work by others and the challenges of being compared to established artistes. Both express a willingness to embrace comparisons as compliments, acknowledging the evolving nature of their artistic identities.

Kamal’s EP has since taken flight and Azumah Nelson’s Small Worlds has gone on to clinch several awards after its May 2023 release.

This artistic exchange, a connection forged over Instagram, has blossomed into a collaboration that transcends mediums, offering a glimpse into the profound impact of art on self-discovery and human connection, while leaving an indelible mark.

“This is just the beginning,” says Azumah Nelson, echoing the sentiment that their creative journey has only just set sail.


Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date