Kawala were initially formed as an acoustic duo by singer Jim Higson and guitarist/singer Daniel McCarthy. In 2015 they appeared on the popular Mahogany Sessions on Youtube, which raised their profile significantly. Soon after they added lead guitarist Dan Lee, bassist Reeve Coulson and drummer Ben Batten to the band.
Kawala released their debut single Small Death in 2017, following it in early 2018 with their percussive indie folk-inflected single Do It Like You, which became a streaming Hit. That same year the band began to make festival appearances at Live at Leeds and The Great Escape, eventually releasing their debut EP D.I.L.Y.D. later that summer on Mahogany Records. Thanks to their bright, melodic style, they have earned comparisons to bands like Bombay Bicycle Club and Glass Animals.