Michael Kiwanuka’s new song and vocal inspirations

Michael Kiwanuka

British singer Michael Kiwanuka has released a cracking new single, giving fans a taste of what’s to come when his new album drops in October.

You Ain’t The Problem is the first track off the self-titled album KIWANUKA, due out 25 October.

The song features the Londoner’s trademark soulful vocals but has a bigger, bolder and more triumphant sound than some of his previous work.


Speaking on Radio 1 the two-time Mercury Music award nominee described it as “a defiant song about not beating yourself up too much”.

“It’s so easy [with social media] to compare and see things that look like everyone else is better than you. I got tired of that thinking and beating myself up.

“As soon as you start looking after yourself you realise that life isn’t so bad. We should cherish who we are and be proud of who we are whatever we’re doing in life.”

Vocal inspirations

Kiwanuka, whose parents were born in Uganda, grew up in Muswell Hill and started his career as a guitarist. He gradually developed the confidence to go solo and quickly gained a reputation for his raw, powerful vocals.

The singer cites Radiohead’s album OK Computer and “the emotion of Thom Yorke’s voice” as major inspirations along with Kurt Cobain and The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft.

Check him out here on Tell Me A Tale.

Early break

Kiwanuka got one of his first big breaks in 2011 when he toured with Adele. He says the singer taught him the importance of staying true to himself and not changing to please other people.

Album history

Kiwanuka’s first two albums Home Again and Love & Hate brimmed with soul. The latter included the powerful Black Man In A White World, for which he won an Ivor Novello Award.

For his third album he worked again with long-time collaborators Danger Mouse and Inflo and said the aim was to create something bold and vivid.

“I just wanted to be proud of who I am and be excited to be an artist and a singer,” he said.