Born in London to Ugandan parents, Michael Kiwanuka, 32, dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music. He supported Adele in 2011 and his debut album, Home Again, was voted the BBC’s Sound of 2012. In 2016, Love And Hate went to No 1 in the UK and earned his second Mercury Prize nomination. Next March, he tours the UK with his critically acclaimed third album, Kiwanuka. He is married and lives in Southampton.
What is your greatest fear?
That the creativity will run dry and I’ll never be able to come up with a song again.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I put myself down.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
A 1962 Fender Stratocaster guitar I bought in 2014 for £10,000.
What would your superpower be?
To teleport. I find travelling really tiring and I get ill a lot.
What makes you unhappy?
Being away from family, and arguments – I hate conflict.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
It used to be my bum. I have a really big African bum, but I like it now.
What is your most unappealing habit?
I lose everything.
Which book changed your life?
Just Kids by Patti Smith. I read her memoir before I dropped out of the Royal Academy of Music and it gave me the confidence to pursue being an artist.
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“You can’t do it.” How do they know?
What does love feel like?
What was the best kiss of your life?
The first one with my wife, Charlotte.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I always say “get ’em” in an American accent when something good happens.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Nothing. Everything happens for a reason.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
The 70s in California: I would be hanging out with all those cool musicians – Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, and Marvin Gaye.
When did you last cry?
An episode of Queer Eye.
How do you relax?
Movies. Taking our labrador puppy, Whisky, for a walk.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Being able to drive.
What keeps you awake at night?
If I think my family’s not safe. And if I have a good idea musically: sometimes I can’t sleep out of excitement.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Embrace your mistakes and failures, because that’s the best way to learn.
Tell us a secret:
Between the ages of four and six I supported Manchester United. (I support Tottenham now.)
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