With his new single ‘Lonely River’ having just dropped, we caught up with Cambridge musician Kyan to find out about a few songs that have influenced him over the years.

Since releasing his debut EP ‘The Purple Experiment’ in 2014, Kyan has toured with critically acclaimed trio, London Grammar, had a series of collaborations with the likes of Duke Dumont, electro-pop king Madeon, Benga and Knox Brown, and racked up over 7 million Spotify streams and it didn’t stop there. 2018 has been a remarkable year for Kyan so far following a euphoric COLORS session, recent one-on-one studio time with Nile Rodgers and support from Ebro on Beats 1 radio.

With early 2018 releases such as ‘Nothing Beyond/Like Summer‘ causing a stir online – Cambridge musician, Kyan, has just dropped his third single of the year ‘Lonely River’.

Speaking on the release, Kyan says “We’re obsessed with labels, and I’ve never felt comfortable with labels and boxes or ceilings.There’s this expectation and pressure to “choose a path”, but it’s always felt more natural to me to be more like a river…Fluid, meandering and able to follow multiple routes to a given destination. Lyrically, that’s what ‘Lonely River’ is about, an awareness that you can be different and do things differently to other people and be comfortable with that. Art is found and beauty is made in the quirks, the mistakes and the freedom of expression. Lonely River is an anthem embracing that.”

We caught up with the singer-songwriter to find out about a few songs that have influenced him over the years.

Stevie Wonder – Talking Book

I definitely couldn’t pick just one track as this album had such a profound effect on me as an artist.
The musicianship, the arrangements, the simple but astute lyrical themes, the vocals…The most incredible vocalist of all time in my book. It’s an inspired record in which you can hear an artist at the height of their craft, able to experiment, push boundaries and still make it accessible. A true masterpiece.


Hugh Masekela – Stimela

This recording gives me goosebumps every time. There are certain records that capture a moment and are transportive. This song takes me right out of whatever moment I’m in and right into the soul of the record. You can hear the room, feel the players, and you believe every note. I feel music should take you on a journey, and this song builds beautifully over the six or so minutes, from a solo guitar to a frenzy of drum fills and orchestration at the climax.


Arrested Development – Mr Wendal

Probably my earliest memory of music, this was my favourite song when I was a kid. Lyrically, it spoke to me in it’s narrative style and socio-political themes. I definitely wasn’t able to articulate that as a kid, but I think as an avid reader, it connected those two loves following a story over music. I loved the beat too and used to jump all around the kitchen to it.


Nina Simone – Sinnerman

Unapologetically expressive, this song is the epitome of musical freedom. You can feel that this song happened in a moment of pure inspiration, without overthought, without doubts. It’s like an entire film in a song and each movement takes you on an incredible ride. Timeless.


Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come

The orchestral arrangements in this song are utterly beautiful. I remember the first time I discovered it, I was about 14 and I sat in the music block through my entire lunch break listening to it on repeat. I just couldn’t comprehend it. The pain, the soul in his voice, the lyricism and the injustice that they explored really connected with me at a time where I really felt felt different as one of the only black kids in my school. In the same way George Orwell’s 1984 always felt more relevant with each passing age, this song was even more poignant knowing that I could connect to a story, pain and hope for the future from a bygone era.


‘Lonely River’ is out now.