Kwaku Darko-Mensah Jnr., better known by his stage name Kae Sun, is a Ghanaian-born Canadian singer-songwriter and artist.
Kwaku was born in Accra, his parents had resettled in Ghana after being based in Germany for several years. He immigrated to Canada to study at the private boarding preparatory school Columbia International College and continued on to McMaster University both in Hamilton, Ontario. He received a degree in Multimedia and Philosophy from McMaster University. In Accra he had attended the renowned Achimota School where he first started writing and performing music.
While attending university, Kwaku started using the stage name Kae Sun, performing at local clubs and making demo recordings. He also started playing guitar and experimenting with different styles and sounds. He first gained some recognition when he was awarded a local music prize.
Kae Sun recorded and released his debut Lion On A Leash in 2009 largely funded by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. He soon after re-located to Toronto. Lion On A Leash was well received among critics, garnering further recognition for Kae Sun.
Kwaku followed up his debut with the EP Outside The Barcode, a folky, pared-down collection of songs inspired by his return to Ghana after years of living in Canada. The song Firefly Dance from this collection was a KCRW Top Tune of the day.
Kae Sun’s second LP Afriyie was released in May 2013 and was co-produced by Kae Sun and production duo Science! (Joshua Sadlier-Brown and Marc Koecher). The record received favourable reviews from publications like exclaim and Afropunk. An MTV Iggy profile of the record said, ” With Afriyie, Kae Sun has managed to emerge as one of the most promising singer-songwriters in the international scene.” The tour for Afriyie included a set at the inaugural CBC music festival, support for the Toronto stop of Janelle Monae‘s Electric Lady Tour and solo engagements in Germany.
The song “Heart Healing Pulse” from Afriyie was included in the Strumbo Hundo 2013, television personality George Stroumboulopoulos‘s list of the top songs of that year. The Roots affiliated site OkayAfrica also lauded Afriyie as one of the best releases of 2013.
In April 2014, Kae Sun made his U.S debut at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, as part of the theatre’s Africa Now Festival.
“Ship and The Globe”, the lead single from Afriyie is featured in several episodes of “Its okay, Thats love”.
Kwaku’s music has been noted for its unique blend of influences owing to his background and personal history. He typically performs his songs on guitar either solo or backed by a band. His poetic lyrics have been noted as being both observational and personal often touching on spiritual, esoteric and socio-political themes. His singing often leans toward the melodic and impassioned with subtle inflections drawn from Soul and Folk traditions. According to MIT‘s The Tech, “Despite this unbridled exploration with sound and lyrics, Kae Sun colors his music with two virtues that seem to be of great importance to him – spirituality and honesty.” His work has at times been tagged Urban Folk, Indie Pop, World, Neo-Folk or Folk-Soul. Now magazine quotes him describing it as “Music. Pure and simple.”