Growing up in East London, Kae Tempest telegraphed their interest in poetry and music as a teenager, working at a record shop while enrolled at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. They started performing at open mikes at the age of 16, and after earning a degree in English literature from Goldsmiths, Tempest began touring around England with like-minded artists who emphasized text, including fellow spoken word artist John Cooper Clarke and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, both of whom embraced a distinctly British vernacular. Tempest went on tour internationally with their band Sound of Rum, which broke-up in 2012.
The following year they published their first book of poetry, produced a play, and in 2014, released a debut album. In the years since, Tempest has continued to perform music and write collections of poetry, and in 2016 published the novel The Bricks That Built The Houses. Tempest’s rhythmically driving delivery has always kept the focus on their words, even as the music pulsing behind them served up infectious electronic grooves and melodic shapes.
Tempest’s 2022 album The Line is a Curve stands as their most sophisticated, assured release. As Tempest wrote about the album, “The Line is A Curve is about letting go. Of shame, anxiety, isolation and falling instead into surrender. Embracing the cyclical nature of time, growth, love. This letting go can hopefully be felt across the record. In the musicality, the instrumentation, the lyricism, the delivery, the cover art. In the way it ends where it begins and begins where it ends.”