Photo: Daniel Vaysberg

Kelvyn Colt

“I started with spoken word poetry,” Kelvyn Colt declares when I ask him if he could tell me a bit about how he started on his musical journey. Colt, who just arrived in New York after spending a couple of days in LA, explained that turning to music as a career was more of a spark than a slow-burning feeling. Three weeks after getting into uni to study law, the German-born artist surprised his parents by coming home one day and announcing that he’s choosing music. We laughed about how “well” his parents took it, but the world, especially Triple Black Heart Gang – his dedicated fan base – is happy he won the war.

Since then, he’s given us groundbreaking hits like “Bury Me Alive,” which has accumulated over a million views on YouTube and counting, and collaborated with some of the world’s biggest brands, including Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Mercedes-Benz, and more, and he’s got a whole lot more coming.

Young Kelvyn Colt loved writing poetry, and the older he got, the longer his poems got, but at the time, he didn’t really know just how similar his poems are to rap. He credits the likes of Tupac for helping him to understand that his poetry could translate into another form of art; rap.

When we got to talking about his upcoming EP German Angst, I could really hear the passion in his voice and how proud he is of having created the project, which was inspired by the pandemic and the protests of 2020/2021. But the main theme was mental health, something he felt people didn’t talk about much, even though many people were heaved down by the burden of it as a result of the fear and instability that came with that time period.

“German culture is very hesitant, they like to overthink things. They’re scared of new things. They’re very careful and anxious about change,” he says of the reason he named the EP German Angst. “There’s a concept in art and literature called German Angst that talks about it.”

Colt went the extra mile to make people open up about their worries and fears by renting boards he called “GERMAN ANGST billboards” across Berlin, Hamburg, and other places, and inviting people to share their “angst” and “wishes” on them. One of his favorite phrases borne of this initiative is “I’m scared of losing control.” And while we both argued on what control could mean, he insisted that “control” is an illusion and that the realization that we can only “manage” and not “control” every aspect of our lives will allow us to breathe easily. However, his main reason for the campaign was to open discussion around mental health and get people to change their perceptions of it. As he says, we don’t hide physical wounds and illnesses like “fever”, so why should we hide or even be ashamed that we’re experiencing mental pressures?

Kicking this year off with the upbeat track “EYE4EYE” – a song he says is about the “hypocrisy I recognize within myself and therefore also in other people when it comes to how we deal with morals, our own emotions, and topics such as revenge” – you can see Colt positioning himself to be the voice that drives a cultural revolution. The track premiered on January 27, just two days after a protest in Berlin saw him and dozens of others take to the street to raise awareness of the need to change the fear Germans harbor for “change.”

“I sip on holy water, hope it gon’ take the pain away,” he raps in the beginning of the track that alternates between wanting to let his anger go and acting on it. It’s especially hard for him to not act because “mama raised a stand-up guy.” By the time we get to the second verse, the structure changes to that of having a conversation with a friend, who wants him to take action against “Rich the Kid” who “stole three thousand dollars.” Throughout the track, we see him grapple between the intense emotions rage can bring and his morals; “Talk to God, might change mind, talk to my boys, we rob ‘em blind.”

When it comes to the video for “EYE4EYE,” Colt included more than a few nods to his favorite movies and pop culture moments. He also confesses that he’s put as much thought into the aesthetics of the visuals as he does on the lyrics themselves. If you ask him why, he’ll tell you that he’s “a big fan of beautiful things”, aesthetics and symbolism.

Curious, I probed him about what he’ll be doing after German Angst drops on March 17, and while he was a bit sketchy and dodgy with the details, I learned that he plans to put on one-of-a-kind shows for his fans. Moving away from traditional concerts, Colt will be introducing shows that promote “immersive experiences” by tailoring the snacks, the drinks, and even the smell – and so many other elements he refuses to name – around the music so that people can feel more when they’re at the shows.

He understands that setting it up will be hard, so he and his team are working around the idea of a mini-residency. But don’t worry, Colt will still get to perform in different cities around the world, (he gave me a few locations, but I don’t think his promotional manager will be thrilled if I mention them just yet).

Colt comes across as a genuine artist who is really excited about his work, and while there’s the money and the fame to be excited about (duh!), he’s more interested in learning that people relate to what he’s doing. With German Angst, he’s looking forward to bringing communities together and igniting important conversations on culture, mental health, and change. He’s currently got his sights set on breaking in America and something tells me he’s got what it takes to take Hollywood by storm.