From science to the spoken word
Kwesi Mills is a Chemistry graduate who was on his way to working for the likes of GlaxoSmithKline. His love for language, expression and poetry , however, proved too strong to stifle, and now he performs under the stage name 'Mr K'.
Mr K talks here about his debut spoken word/music album 'My Great Transition' and his aspirations for the future.
CT: What is the story behind the album?
KM: I have been doing spoken word poetry for over six years now and have always loved it is as an art form. So a year ago, I finally responded to the urge I had to go full throttle with this. The story was already there, my great transition, all the things that had happened in my life. I am an avid music lover, one of my favourite albums is the 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'. One of the things I really love about the album was the narrative it had, every single track told a story. Artists today don't seem that passionate or creative anymore when it comes to releasing music; it seems to just be about making money.
CT: What do you hope people will gain from your album?
KM: When this album comes out I want people to connect with it. I don't want it to just be another album, another collection of songs you play for a couple of minutes or days and just forget about. I want it to be an experience.
CT: When did you discover your talent?
KM: Probably in my early teens, I've always been a book worm growing up. I would read Enid Blyton , Nancy Drew, anything and everything I could find. In my teenage years I tried writing books, writing comics, I always had a thing for stories and that journey eventually took me to poetry. I love rap music, I listened to a lot of it back then, I still listen now and I tried my hand at rap but I failed drastically! It was in my early twenties that I sat down with a pen and paper one day and said enough with the gimmicks, enough with trying to be a superstar rapper, I just want to communicate what's in my heart.
CT: Where do you get your inspiration from to write your tracks?
KM: It's from a few places; my main source is everyday life and happenings. I believe any creative person doesn't really need to look too far to find inspiration to draw a painting, produce a beat, write a book or make a film. I love God. I know Him, have a relationship with Him and He is the foundation of everything I do. Music from other artists inspires me, even artists that have content I can't stand. I have gotten into the habit of separating the meat from the bones and I have learnt how to appreciate the artistry and separate that from the content and get inspired by that.
CT: How has your faith influenced your craft?
KM: I make spoken word pieces and songs about life and whatever is very close to my heart. My faith is very close to my heart, God is a big part of my life. I really love the Lord and that just comes through. I don't have every song mentioning Jesus, but you don't have to look too hard to see that there is something of Him.
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CT: One of your tracks 'Surrender' is already proving to be a favourite amongst listeners. What frame of mind were you in when you wrote the piece?
KM: Surrender came from a place of saying ' I don't have everything figured out', 'I make mistakes', ' I'm a mess'. My favourite line from it is in the chorus: 'take me, the good, the bad, the ugly'. Surrendering isn't only giving God the good part, but giving him the bad and ugly and that's where you really get to see Him move and you really soar with Him. It was me saying let's just break everything that we are, the messy parts that we try to hide from everyone and the things we struggle with. Let's be real and place that before Him if we are really trying to surrender.
CT: Was your call to be a spoken word artist easy to go along with or did you have doubts?
KM: I believe God was calling me to do it but part of my journey was to go back to my childhood to really discover who I was back then. In hindsight, now that I look back I see that actually God did have His hand in shaping me in the good experiences and the bad.
CT: There is mention of a tour. Where will you be touring?
KM: It is really my desire to take this music world wide. What God has blessed me with is unlike anything I have ever heard before. It just slots right into my desire to make a positive impact. Next year we are going to be releasing the album and a tour is in the works. We are still putting things together. We'd like to go into churches, prisons, schools, community centres and even on the street corners, I'm always drawn to the unconventional. We're putting plans together for 2014, the 'My Great Transition' Tour, more details to come.