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Kae Tempest

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Kae Tempest
Tempest at Haldern Pop Festival in 2017
Born1985 (age 38–39)[1]
Westminster, London, England
Other namesExcentral Tempest[2]
Occupation(s)Poet, playwright, rapper, recording artist
Notable workHopelessly Devoted, Wasted, Brand New Ancients, Everybody Down, Hold Your Own, The Bricks That Built The Houses, Let Them Eat Chaos
Musical career
GenresSpoken word, hip-hop
LabelsAmerican Recordings, Fiction, Big Dada, Ninja Tune, Lex
Websitewww.kaetempest.co.uk Edit this at Wikidata

Kae Tempest[3][4] (formerly Kate Tempest)[5][6] is an English spoken word performer, poet, recording artist, novelist and playwright.

At the age of 16, Tempest was accepted into the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon. In 2013, they won the Ted Hughes Award for their work Brand New Ancients.[7] They were named a Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society,[8] a once-a-decade accolade. Tempest's albums Everybody Down[7] and Let Them Eat Chaos have been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize.[9] The latter's accompanying poetry book (also titled Let Them Eat Chaos) was nominated for the Costa Book of the Year in the Poetry Category.[10][11] Their debut novel The Bricks That Built the Houses was a Sunday Times best-seller and won the 2017 Books Are My Bag Readers Award for Breakthrough Author. They were nominated as Best Female Solo Performer at the 2018 Brit Awards.[12] Tempest came out as non-binary in 2020, using pronouns they/them.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Tempest performing at Way Out West 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden

Kae Tempest grew up in Brockley, South East London,[5][6] one of five children whose father was a corporate media lawyer, and their mother a teacher. Tempest worked in a record shop from age 14 to 18. They went to Thomas Tallis School, leaving at 16 to study at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon, going on to graduate in English Literature from Goldsmiths, University of London.[7][9] Tempest first performed at 16, at open mic nights at Deal Real, a small hip-hop store in Carnaby Street in London's West End. They went on to support acts such as John Cooper Clarke, Billy Bragg and Benjamin Zephaniah. Tempest toured internationally with their band Sound of Rum until the band disbanded in 2012 before being commissioned to write their first play, Wasted.[14]

In August 2020, Tempest came out as non-binary, began using they/them pronouns, and changed their name to Kae.[15]

Tempest performs hip hop, namely their signature piece Let Them Eat Chaos, at the 2017 Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho


In 2013, Tempest released their first poetry book Everything Speaks in its Own Way, a limited edition run on their own imprint, Zingaro. At 26, they launched the theatrical spoken word piece Brand New Ancients at the Battersea Arts Centre (2012), to great critical acclaim.[11][12][14][16] The piece also won Tempest the Herald Angel and The Ted Hughes Prize. Some of Tempest's influences include Christopher Logue (their "favourite poet"),[17][18] Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, W B Yeats, William Blake, W H Auden and Wu-Tang Clan.[12][14][19]

In September 2013, their play Hopelessly Devoted was produced by Paines Plough and premiered at Birmingham Rep Theatre.[20]

In 2014, they released the album Everybody Down (Big Dada, Ninja Tune), which was produced by Dan Carey and was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize.[21]

Since the release of Everybody Down, Tempest has increased touring as a musician,[22] playing at festivals and headlining shows with their live band which consists of Kwake Bass on drums,[23] Dan Carey on synths and Clare Uchima on keyboards.[24]

In October 2014, their first poetry collection for Picador, Hold Your Own, was published. The collection was a commercial and critical success and its release coincided with Tempest being named a Next Generation Poet.

Tempest was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2015.[25]

In April 2016, their debut novel The Bricks That Built The Houses was published by Bloomsbury and was a Sunday Times Bestseller. It won the Books Are My Bag Best Breakthrough Author Award.[16]

In September 2016, it was announced that Tempest would curate the 2017 Brighton Festival. They released the album Let Them Eat Chaos on 7 October 2016.[26] It debuted at no. 28 on the UK Albums Chart, and was also released in book format (Picador).[27] The album was also nominated for the Mercury Prize, this time in 2017.[28] They were nominated for Best British Female Solo Performer at the 2018 Brit Awards.[12]

Tempest's song "People's Faces" was used for the Facebook commercial "We're Never Lost If We Can Find Each Other", created by the agency Droga5, and released on 9 April 2020.[29]

Paradise, Tempest's modern adaptation of Sophocles' Greek Classic, Philoctetes, premiered at the National Theatre from 4 August - 11 September 2021. The all-female cast, featuring Lesley Sharp, was directed by Ian Rickson and performed in the Olivier Theatre.[30]


In November 2019, along with other public figures, Tempest signed a letter supporting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn describing him as "a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world" and endorsed him in the 2019 UK general election.[31] In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, they signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."[32][33]


The Economist said of Tempest's commission from the Royal Shakespeare Company: "A stunning piece by [Kae] Tempest, a London-born performance poet, comes bursting off the screen. Rarely has the relevance of Shakespeare to our language, to the very fabric of our feelings, been expressed with quite such youthful passion. (It should be mandatory viewing for all teenagers.)"[34] The Huffington Post describes them as "Britain's leading young poet, playwright and rapper...one of the most widely respected performers in the country – the complete package of lyrics and delivery. [They are] also one of the most exciting young writers working in Britain today" (2012). The Guardian commented of Brand New Ancients, "Suddenly it feels as if we are not in a theatre but a church... gathered around a hearth, hearing the age-old stories that help us make sense of our lives. We're given the sense that what we are watching is something sacred."[35] In 2013, the newspaper noted:

[They are] one of the brightest talents around. [Their] spoken-word performances have the metre and craft of traditional poetry, the kinetic agitation of hip-hop and the intimacy of a whispered heart-to-heart... Tempest deals bravely with poverty, class and consumerism. [They do] so in a way that not only avoids the pitfalls of sounding trite, but manages to be beautiful too, drawing on ancient mythology and sermonic cadence to tell stories of the everyday.[36]

In 2013, aged 28, they won the Ted Hughes Award for their work Brand New Ancients, the first person under the age of 40 to win the award,[37] and was selected as one of the 2014 Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Society.[38]

Tempest has received wide critical acclaim for their written and live work.[34] A performance of Brand New Ancients prompted the New York Times to say "As gorgeous streams of words flow out, [they conjure] a story so vivid it’s as if you had a state-of-the-art Blu-ray player stuffed into your brain, projecting image after image that sears itself into your consciousness"[19] while a review by Michiko Kakutani of their poetry collections in the same paper explored their written style: “While [their] intense performances on stage add a fierce urgency to the words, these text versions of [their] work stand powerfully on their own on the page...using [their] pictorial imagination to sear specific images into the reader's mind".[21]

They have been published in nine languages.

Everybody Down was nominated for the 2015 Mercury Music Prize and Let Them Eat Chaos have been nominated for the 2017 Mercury Music Prize. Their accompanying poetry book Let Them Eat Chaos was nominated for the Costa Book of the Year in the Poetry Category in 2016. They were nominated as Best Female Solo Performer at the 2018 Brit Awards.


Poetry collections[edit]

  • 2012: Everything Speaks in its Own Way
  • 2013: Brand New Ancients
  • 2014: Hold Your Own
  • 2016: Let Them Eat Chaos
  • 2016: Pictures on a Screen
  • 2018: Running Upon The Wires
  • 2023: Divisible By Itself and One

Spoken word performance[edit]

  • 2012: Brand New Ancients – Ted Hughes Award 2013 (2014 released as CD)
Tempest at Primavera Sound 2019


  • 2013: Wasted
  • 2014: Glasshouse
  • 2014: Hopelessly Devoted
  • 2021: Paradise


  • 2016: The Bricks That Built the Houses, Bloomsbury Circus, London

Non-fiction book[edit]

  • 2020: On Connection, Faber & Faber, London


Studio albums[edit]

  • 2011: Balance (with "Sound of Rum")
  • 2014: Everybody Down – nominated for Mercury Prize 2014
  • 2016: Let Them Eat Chaos – nominated for Mercury Prize 2017[39]
  • 2019: The Book of Traps and Lessons
  • 2022: The Line Is a Curve


  • 2014: "Our Town"
  • 2014: "Hot Night Cold Spaceship"
  • 2015: "Bad Place for a Good Time"
  • 2016: "Guts (with Loyle Carner)"
  • 2016: "Truth Is Telling (with Blasco Says)"

As featured artist[edit]

  • 2008: "I Got Love (remix)" (The King Blues featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2010: "Drum Song (brentonLABS Remix)" (The Temper Trap featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2011: "Can't Take Another Earthquake - (Beans On Toast - featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2012: "Forever Ever" (Bastille featuring Kae Tempest & Jay Brown)
  • 2014: "Our Town" (letthemusicplay featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2014: "Rain" (Rag'n'Bone Man featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2014: "Summer" (letthemusicplay featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2018: "Kairos" (Warsnare featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2018: "A Child Is an Open Book" (Damien Dempsey featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2018: "Usubscribe" (Jam Baxter featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2018: "6 Millions Stories" (Foreign Beggars featuring Kae Tempest, Bangzy, Scott Garcia & Bionic)
  • 2019: "Blood of the Past" (The Comet is Coming featuring Kae Tempest)
  • 2020: "Time Is Hardcore" (High Contrast featuring Kae Tempest & Anita Blay)
  • 2023: "We Were We Still Are" (Fraser T. Smith featuring Kae Tempest)[40]
  • 2023: "Geronimo Blues" (Speakers Corner Quartet with Kae Tempest)


  1. ^ Tempest, Kae (2020). On Connection. London: Faber & Faber. Bio inside back cover. They were born in London in 1985 where they still live.
  2. ^ "Phrased & Confused". The Hub. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  3. ^ Murray, Robin (6 August 2020). "Kate Tempest Changes Name To Kae Tempest". Clash. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  4. ^ Kae Tempest [@kaetempest] (6 August 2020). "kae tempest on Twitter" (Tweet). Retrieved 7 August 2020 – via Twitter.
  5. ^ a b Hogan, Michael (14 September 2014). "Kate Tempest: a winning wielder of words". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  6. ^ a b Donadio, Rachel (6 March 2015). "Kate Tempest, a British Triple Threat, Crosses the Pond". New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  7. ^ a b c "'Mercury nominees 2014: Kate Tempest". Guardian Music Blog. London. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (11 September 2014). "'Next Generation' of 20 hotly-tipped poets announced by Poetry Book Society". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Kate Tempest – 'Let Them Eat Chaos'". mercuryprize.com. Mercury Prize. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Costa shortlists" (PDF).
  11. ^ a b Cain, Sian (22 November 2016). "Costa book award 2016 shortlists dominated by female writers". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d "British Female Solo Artist Nominees Announced". Brit Awards. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  13. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (6 August 2020). "Kate Tempest announces they are non-binary, changes name to Kae". The Guardian.
  14. ^ a b c Mahoney, Elisabeth (27 March 2012). "Wasted – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  15. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (6 August 2020). "Kate Tempest announces they are non-binary, changes name to Kae". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2017 sponsored by National Book Tokens". National Book Tokens. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  17. ^ Kae Tempest [@kaetempest] (29 January 2013). "Christopher Logue is my favourite poet" (Tweet). Retrieved 17 February 2023 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "Kate Tempest webchat – your questions answered on Jung, dog chat, and why poetry speaks to us all". the Guardian. 14 December 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 17 February 2023.
  19. ^ a b Isherwood, Charles (14 January 2014). "'Brand New Ancients' Stars Kate Tempest in a Tragic Tale – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  20. ^ Brennan, Clare (23 September 2013). "Hopelessly Devoted – review – Stage – The Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  21. ^ a b Kakutani, Michiko (18 March 2015). "Review – Kate Tempest, a Young Poet Conjuring Ancient Gods – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2018.
  22. ^ Farand, Chloe (23 June 2017). "Kate Tempest 'moves people to tears' with powerful Glastonbury set". The Independent. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  23. ^ Tripney, Natasha (4 May 2017). "Kate Tempest: 'Everything is defined in monetary terms'". The Stage. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Let Them Eat Chaos Kate Tempest06.10. Tempelhof Hangar 5". volksbuehne.berlin. Retrieved 19 June 2018.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Kate Tempest". The Royal Society of Literature. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  26. ^ Clark, Alex (9 October 2016). "Kate Tempest: Let Them Eat Chaos review – a state-of-the-world address". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  27. ^ "2017:The Year of the Wolf". Press Reader. 19 October 2016.
  28. ^ Alexis Petridis (27 July 2017). "2017 Mercury shortlist fails to spotlight truly exciting British music". The Guardian.
  29. ^ "Facebook TV Commercial, 'We're Never Lost If We Can Find Each Other' Song by Kate Tempest". iSpot.tv. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  30. ^ "Paradise". National Theatre. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  31. ^ Neale, Matthew (16 November 2019). "Exclusive: New letter supporting Jeremy Corbyn signed by Roger Waters, Robert Del Naja and more". NME. Retrieved 27 November 2019.
  32. ^ "Vote for hope and a decent future". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  33. ^ Proctor, Kate (3 December 2019). "Coogan and Klein lead cultural figures backing Corbyn and Labour". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
  34. ^ a b "William Shakespeare: A digital reinvention". The Economist. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  35. ^ Gardner, Lyn (10 September 2012). "Brand New Ancients – review BAC, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2012.
  36. ^ "Kate Tempest: the performance poet who can't be ignored" 10 April 2013, The Guardian.
  37. ^ Michael Hogan (14 September 2014). "Kate Tempest: a winning wielder of words". The Guardian.
  38. ^ Alison Flood (11 September 2014). "'Next Generation' of 20 hotly-tipped poets announced by Poetry Book Society". The Guardian.
  39. ^ "Kate Tempest shortlisted for Mercury Prize 2017". Panmacmillan.com. Archived from the original on 3 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017.
  40. ^ Geraghty, Hollie (20 January 2023). "Fraser T Smith shares new single 'We Were We Still Are' with Kae Tempest". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 20 January 2023. Retrieved 21 January 2023.

External links[edit]