Day In The Life – Mellow Luxury With KwolleM

Recently at HIP we caught up with KwolleM in his local area of Newham, East London, spending a day in the life with him as we showcase our latest Luxury Edit for SS23 – featuring selections from Andersson Bell, Visvim, Auralee, Martine Rose, A-COLD-WALL*, 4SDESIGNS, GR10K & Reese Cooper. KwolleM’s unique style blends all his different influences and experiences, experimenting with luxury silhouettes and fabrics whilst retaining elements from his London upbringing.

KwolleM is a multi-disciplinary creative immersed in the UK’s music and fashion scenes, having worked with British labels A-COLD-WALL* and PLACES+FACES and pioneered the ‘Mellow Grime’ movement which alters the genre’s gritty sound with soulful beats taken from hip-hop, soul, garage and R&B. KwolleM’s music began with the Mellow EP in 2015 – the first time we heard his unique juxtaposition of these different sounds. In 2020 KwolleM released the c2c EP alongside friend and fellow UK artist Joe James, generating mass attention as it developed the Mellow Grime sound, taking listeners on a musical journey through an Essex to East London train ride filled with nostalgia and personal memories from the pair.

We caught up with KwolleM to talk new music, growing up in London, what’s next and more.

Explore our Luxury Edit for SS23 at HIPOnline now.

Firstly, what have you been up to recently? 

As always – balancing work & making music. 

What does a usual day look like for you at the moment, do you have any non-negotiable routines or habits?

The only non-negotiable for me is gym 4 evenings a week, usually after work – that & opening up FL Studio once a day. 

Growing up in Newham, what were you wearing and listening to?

Newham was where I spent my entire teens, so I kinda moved with the times. I did have the benefit of having a JD Outlet near my house though, so I always had Air Max on feet – whether it was a Windrunner, Air Max Lights (or whatever made it to the outlet). For clothes it went from Nike tracksuits to Ralph Lauren tracksuits to Hollister, before I actually had any sort of fashion education. I would’ve been listening to Grime (BBK, Meridian, Ghetts, P Money) & UK Rap (Blade Brown, Youngs Teflon, Krept & Konan, G FrSH).

How did you get into the fashion industry and connect with brands like A-COLD-WALL* and PLACES+FACES?

A friend of mine knew Samuel Ross (Founder of ACW*) & was going to help with their first runway show – I asked if I could come help him & I ended up opening the show for ACW* – a couple more moments assisting as an intern & we both ended up working there full time. Places+Faces happened through a throw ball from my wife who was working there, as they needed someone to handle their E-commerce which I did at ACW* – this was made easier by the fact I already knew everybody at the company. 

What are your main style influences at the moment?

Honestly don’t have any. My style is & will always be an amalgamation of the all the significant people I know & meet – those encounters are few & fair between, so no real influences at the moment.

How has your style evolved from growing up in London to now after travelling and working in the industry?

With the widened world view came a widened sense of style – going to Asia made me more comfortable with baggier silhouettes. – working in luxury fashion made me more comfortable with different materials like mesh, etc.

You have been a major proponent of the Mellow Grime movement, what influenced you at the time to the make the Mellow EP and fuse together such different sounds?

I started making music around the same time as Soundcloud become super popular, which also happened to be when Grime was having a resurgence with the likes of AJ Tracey, Jammz & Novelist becoming popular – so the combination seemed like an obvious choice for someone who liked listening to both.

The c2c EP captures the nostalgia and feeling of East London/ Essex – can you talk about what the EP and train route means to you?

c2c leaned towards Joe & I’s upbringing in Essex – the idea being of having stories from each stops reflecting our constant journeys on the c2c & the significance it would’ve had. 

It looks like you’ve done a fair bit of travelling, what’s your favourite destination (and why)?

Tokyo for sure, the culture, the food, the vintage clothes!

Any favourite books, music, brands or artists we should know about or keep an eye out for? 

Without mentioning the obvious, I’d say – Bonne Huit, Clints, ADWYSD, Thug Club, & for artists, Dexterinthenewsagent, Jim legxacy.