Might 18-year-old Kamal be UK’s music’s answer to Billie Eilish?

“I think that’s why my songs have picked up traction, everyone is stuck at home, so they clicked with it,” Kamal tells me over Zoom from his neat and tidy bedroom, toiletries lined up on a shelf behind him and a microphone in the corner. It feels strange to be peering inside the personal space of a teenage boy, but thankfully there is not a dirty sock – or embarassing Star Wars duvet cover – in sight.

Kamal’s music is also heavily on trend: moody, downtempo, slow and addictive – the kind to listen to while looking out of the window as the rain falls, or sitting in bed with a broken heart. At times it’s like Billie Eilish, Post Malone and The Weeknd all rolled into one. Even Kamal’s song titles are Billie Eilish styled: capped down, with the words joined together in a jumble. It won’t be long now until one of his songs is synced on Love Island or on a binge-worthy Netflix show about teen angst, and duly goes viral.

Is it safe to assume, then, that he will no longer be going to university? Kamal chuckles in agreement, although, he says, his parents might have liked the safety net. A brainy family, Kamal’s mother works in publishing while his father writes for a policy tracker. They both encouraged his love of music growing up, paying for piano lessons up to grade eight.

But does Kamal feel daunted, forging out a career in music as we approach our ninth month in lockdown? “No, I’m just glad that I’m not getting distracted,” he says, telling me that to celebrate his 18th birthday he simply went and saw two friends in the park. “Socially distanced,” he adds, carefully.

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