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Kpence and Malachai on Music For Empty Rooms

Kpence is a London-born, Scotland-based rapper, who has just released his debut EP, Music For Empty Rooms: an introspective four-track project that feels like a real insight into the artist’s mind. With four years in between this and his last release, Kpence has learned a lot. With his support slot for Bemz at his headline show at SWG3, Kpence is set to be making noise within Scotland and beyond. SNACK caught up with him and producer Malachai to talk about the project. 

Who is Kpence? 

Kpence: My real name is Penial. I feel Kpence is just an extension of him. As Penial I don’t really talk a lot. Kpence is the only time you will ever hear me vocalise how I feel about things.  

You’ve just dropped your debut EP, Music For Empty Rooms. Tell me a little about the process of creating this? 

Kpence: I started making the EP a year ago but it wasn’t a conscious decision. All the songs just kinda fell into place. The majority of the songs were made in Malachai’s bedroom; we live in a flat together so most of the songs were made there.

Explain the title, Music For Empty Rooms?

Kpence: The EP to me was very introspective so Music For Empty Rooms made sense. An empty room is a place for reflection. 

Music for Empty Rooms is your first release in four years. Can you explain this gap? 

Kpence: The gap was basically me trying to find my style. I was still rapping and writing lyrics, but I realised I wasn’t actually making songs. There’s a lot of people that can rap but it’s not about rapping, it’s about making songs, music. I took time off to think about the kind of songs I wanna make. So yeah, the four years were kinda worth it.

How do you know when a song is done? 

Malachai: Once we have listened to it enough times and we that feel there’s nothing else worth changing, it’s done. You don’t want it to get oversaturated. 

Malachai produced three out of four tracks on the album. What makes you two gel together creatively? 

Kpence: Initially, I saw Malachai in the studio on Instagram and I messaged him saying, ‘Yo bro I really like your style of music and I’d like to come to one of your sessions’. It gelled from then. It wasn’t a thing we planned. It just kind of fell into place, and I think that’s how the best puzzles are solved.

Malachai: At our first session we quickly realised we were on similar wavelengths. As we worked together we kept getting better. My production improved, his songwriting improved. We would bring good things out of each other. I’m grateful it happened because it almost didn’t. 

Almost didn’t?

Malachai: Well, what Pence left out is that after sending that message I stopped making music for almost a year, it just stopped feeling like something I wanted to pursue. When we did finally make music we knew we couldn’t let that moment go. 

You were born in London and moved to Glasgow. What age did you come to Scotland, and how would you say growing up between the two has affected you? 

Kpence: I moved to Glasgow when I was about 15. It has had a huge impact on the person I’ve become. They both resonate with me, and I’m glad I’ve lived between the two. 

How have you found the music scene in Scotland? 

Kpence: I would say it’s growing. It’s a lot better than when I first got here. Compared to England it is definitely far behind – Scotland hasn’t created much of a market for my kind of music. That’s basically what we are working on, improving the scene. 

You had a listening party for this EP in Edinburgh. How was that, and do you feel like you have people here who are supporting you? 

Kpence: We thought the listening party would be a good way to build up anticipation since I hadn’t dropped music in such a long time. We had a live band, which brought out more of a feeling than just rapping over a backing track. It’s very important having the right people around me: there’s only so much one person can actually ‘get’. You need people around you on the same wavelength. 

By the time this interview is out, you will have opened up for Bemz at SWG3.  How are you feeling about this?  

Kpence: I’m grateful to Bemz for shouting me. When he contacted me I didn’t even have any music out, so it was a huge investment on his part. I am happy he was able to recognise something within me. 

What’s next for Kpence? 

Kpence: More music, better music. This EP is just a teaser. 

Music For Empty Rooms is out now

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