Why Absolute Passion And Pure Love Carries Kate Tempest Through Everything

3 December 2015 | 1:30 pm | Kate Kingsmill

"Every time I have an idea, it rattles me to the core, and I want to put it out in whatever way I can."

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"I enjoy it, I love it, I love the intensity. I also love the joy, the elation, I love the moment when you just feel — suddenly —when you're on stage sometimes you can feel every single person in the room. You can feel when you lose them, you can feel when you've got them, it's a very truthful moment that you don't really get anywhere else."

Tempest by name and nature, Kate Tempest (Kate Esther Calvert) is a constant whirlwind of genuine passion and absolute positive energy. So absolutely open, raw and sensitive to the vividness of the world and her experience in it that it's almost as though she has no skin.

"I love the intensity. I also love the joy, the elation."

Calvert channels this experience into a whole range of amazing work. She started out as a teenage rapper in South-East London, where she still lives, first performing aged 16 at a hip hop record shop in Carnaby Street. She performed in spoken word and poetry slams, winning twice at the prestigious Nuyorican poetry cafe in New York City. She has toured and recorded an album with her old band, Sound of Rum. She won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry — the first person under 40 to do so, for her narrative poem Brand New Ancients. She has performed at Glastonbury, and signed to Big Dada Records. Her debut solo album, Everybody Down, was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Music Prize, and she has written plays and books of poetry as well as collaborated with The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her debut novel, The Bricks That Built The Houses, comes out early next year.

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Absolute passion and pure love is the common thread through everything she does. But apart from that, she doesn't want to limit herself by describing what she does. "I don't know how I'd put it," says Calvert. "As soon as I start thinking about putting it in some kind of catchy soundbite it just makes me cringe. I just love what I do. I'm obsessed with language and poetry. I write all the time. I listen to music all the time. And every time I have an idea, it rattles me to the core, and I want to put it out in whatever way I can. And I'm trying really, really hard, I'm struggling every day, to try and make my facilities able to articulate the ideas that I have. And it's an impossible task. Because ideas are amazing things, and the actual, actual thing that you make is always a kind of massive come down off a great idea, you know?

"So, I don't know.  Yes, I tell stories, but I don't know if I'm a story teller. Yes I want to communicate, I don't know if I'm a communicator. I'm just making it up as I go along and just trying to have ideas and be true to them and work with people that I think are great."

At this point in time, when so much has happened, she has these moments, she says, "Where you kind of check in with how far you've come, and it's unbelievable. And it's a sense of humility and disbelief and also glee and terror and awe. And also this all feels hopefully like the beginning of something."