Kae Tempest talks about showing up for their community on new album

In an exclusive GCN interview, we spoke to Kae Tempest ahead of the launch of their forthcoming album, 'The Line Is A Curve'.

Head shot of Kae Tempest looking left of camera with a blurred outdoor background.
Image: @kaetempest

Nobody could ever accuse Kae Tempest of being work-shy. In just over a decade, they’ve managed to amass a staggering six poetry collections, one novel, three plays, a newly published non-fiction book, On Connection, and no less than four full-length studio albums. But somehow they still manage to find new ways to reveal themselves and the forthcoming album The Line is a Curve, feels like the truest expression of them so far.

Back in January, they announced that the album would be available on April 8. Since then, they’ve been dropping some of the singles to whet our appetites and the excitement has been rising. And yesterday’s release of the album’s beautiful fourth single ‘I Saw Light’ has really sealed the promise of a truly awesome arrival.

Having come out as non-binary in August 2020, the new work seems to reflect that and sounds almost autobiographical. They explained, “I think for a long time I was hiding a lot. So I was putting everything that I could into my work, but there was a part of myself that I wasn’t able to bring with me. Because I wasn’t bringing it into my life so I couldn’t bring it into my work.

“It is a point of concern for me that I had so much shame that I couldn’t show up for my community more in my work because I just wasn’t able to tell my own story; I just wasn’t there yet.”


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Although Kae’s musical work has always evolved through collaboration, The Line is a Curve, is the first that sees them duetting with other artists such as Lianne La Havas, Kevin Abstract, and in the case of ‘I Saw Light’, with Irishman, Grian Chatten of Fontaines DC. 

Given the autobiographical nature of the lyrics, the pairing of other vocal styles seems somehow jarring but also works magically. 

“I love collaboration. For me. It’s the ultimate connection… when I started making my solo albums I kind of zoned in and I pulled this really tight focus because I was telling these really complicated stories. And then with this album, it just felt right. I wanted people with me in the process.”

As well as the embracing lyrics and beautiful vocal collaborations, the album’s exquisite cover feels extremely raw and fitting of its autobiographical tone. “I knew I wanted my face on the cover because I wanted to welcome people into the record and I felt more able to do that. 

“Because of the lockdown and the forced time to reflect and because of some stuff that was happening in my personal life I’ve been through a lot. I’ve been through a time of reckoning, you know, and I’ve come out, I believe the other side of it, stronger. And part of all of that was just accepting some things and saying, ‘okay’. And so I knew it had to be a portrait.”

Kae worked with German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans to shoot the artwork and direct the video for ‘I Saw Light’.  Until next week, we’ll leave you with the new video just to get you even more excited.

© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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