FIVE-piece indie-folk band Kawala made their 'surreal' debut to Reading Festival last week, where they officially opened the event on Friday, August 23 in the blazing sunshine to excitable crowds.

Band members Jim Higson (lead vocals) and Dan McCarthy (guitar and vocals) exclusively chatted to The Reading Chronicle back stage after their energetic performance.

Starting their musical journey while studying in Leeds, North London duo Jim and Dan quickly developed a distinctive sound.

Dan said: "Myself and Jim have known each other since we were about 12 and realised we wanted to do music together.

"We ended up both going to Leeds uni and somehow, we ended up here today!"

Speaking about their Reading Festival debut, he added: "It was a bit surreal today.

"It feels like you're not really there - it was so nerve-wracking seeing the size of the stage."

Jim added: "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for this to be perfect.

"It's the biggest stage we've ever done for sure."

Deriving from their joint love of close vocal harmony and rhythmic finger-style acoustic guitar, the pair started writing songs inspired by the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and Half Moon Run.

After breaks on platforms such as Mahogany sessions as an acoustic indie-folk act, they quickly moved back to London with aim of expanding their sound.

Now backed by a full band of Ben (drums), Reeve (bass) and Dan Lee (electric guitar), Kawala have started making waves in the live scene, finding inspiration from a range of musical styles.

Speaking about their inspirations and style, Dan joked: "I think I described our music recently as 'all the worst parts of indie, folk, pop combined to make something terrible.'"

Jim added: "Someone described us once as 'the Simon and Garfunkel or the Urban Outfit generation' - that was a big deal for us!"

When asked about their plans for the future, the two said they were looking forward to their upcoming tour in October.

Dan said: "We are going south up, so Brighton, London, Bristol, Nottingham, York, Liverpool, Dublin, Belfast.

"There’s more than that too - sorry if we’ve forgotten you!

"We’ve done one proper headline tour before.

"I think supporting other people is everything."

When asked what their favourite part about touring was, Jim said: "We are all mates in the band and all enjoy each other's company.

"It's a blessing that we can work, play together and still enjoy each other's company."

Dan added: "On the whole, it is just fun.

"We are just five mates.

"They're unbelievable musicians and we just have a laugh."

Speaking about highlights so far, Dan said: "I'm a sucker for a smaller, indoor rowdy gig.

"Things like Reading Festival is incredible, but I find it so surreal, I can't quite get my head around what's happening.

"We're doing our Dublin tour soon of like 400 people, and our last Dublin show was about 150 people in a tiny room - but just a rowdy room of incredible people from Dublin or Glasgow or somewhere like that – they'll give you a bit of stick and a bit of chat back and you have this great rapport with people.

"When you've got something to bounce off it's so easy."

Jim said: "You can't beat it.

"We welcome hecklers!"