Wonderland.

New Noise: Jordan Mackampa

Talking to the timeless troubadour.

Soulful and stunning, Jordan Mackampa has been wowing audiences with his rich vocals and enlightened songwriting since the release of his critically acclaimed “Physics” EP last year.

Having been championed for his poet-like lyricism, Jordan is now releasing his newest EP, “Tales from the Broken”. Blending in elements from his Congolese heritage, the Coventry-based songwriter uses gospel-tinged harmonies and folk-like melodies to create warm and captivating beats. With tracks that can equally tear at your heartstrings and fill you with joy, it’s a complex and compelling record, showing the talent that Jordan possesses.

In the run up to the EP, which is out today, we had a chat with Jordan to find out more about him.

Going back to the beginning, when did you first fall in love with music?

I fell in love with music from a very young age, it was the thing the made me the happiest at all times. I was always that kid singing and dancing at parties, trying to take centre stage when I could.

Who would you say are your main musical influences?

I draw influence and inspiration from lots of different artists, of different genres to be honest, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say artists such BB King, Michael Kiwanuka, Bob Dylan, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Coldplay, they are my favourite band.

You’re from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now live in Coventry. How has the mix of cultures impacted you?

I’d say my understanding of rhythm, timing, melody and harmony are very afro-centric – they are my roots; it’s gotta have a pulse, even the simplest 4/4 beat or counter melody, something to make me tap my feet or follow along is what I tend to lean towards. However, living in Coventry definitely helped with my song-writing style, in terms of lyrics and phrasing. Because of the strong indie folk and ska scene so I try and combine the sense of honest writing about real people and experiences, whilst keeping a pulse type beat.

Do you see this in your music as well?

It definitely shows in my music, particularly in songs like “Battlecry”, the rhythm section of just pure organic percussion reminds of music I’d hear back home at my mum’s house growing up.

You recently released your newest song “Saint”. What was the inspiration behind it?

“Saint” is very personal to me, as it was definitely one of those songs I didn’t realise how much I’d actually been through, in terms of my own battle with faith, morality and doing the right thing. I often feel like a lonely traveller, still trying to figure my own path in life and that’s something I know a lot of people often feel like so I wanted to explore that path a little further.

“I was always that kid singing and dancing at parties, trying to take centre stage when I could.”

It comes from your upcoming EP “Tales From The Broken”. What can you tell us about this?

The new EP is definitely a darker and more mature sounding record. The title of the EP revolves around “broken” people, not broken to say these people need fixing, but more so, those who have learnt from their experiences and are telling us their stories of how they overcame their troubles, so that we don’t make the same mistakes they did. At the time, it didn’t feel like the emotional rollercoaster that record portrays when I was writing the songs; but once we’d gathered all the songs together I’d realised that there was a certain level of substance to each song, that sounds like I’d been through quite the journey.

What’s your songwriting process?

My song-writing process is making sure I have the time to write, even if it’s something small and I’m in a creative enough headspace to keep going, even when I don’t think what I’m writing is very good – what I start with, may not be what I end up finishing, but at least I started.

You’re about to head out on tour! What’s your favourite thing about performing live?

The best part of touring; is how you can never predict beforehand how the gig is going to go, because you’re playing to a new audience in a different city and they’re going to be different each night. You might play to a timid, shy crowd who listen and observe very intensely to you, which is lovely, or there’s potential for you to play to a very rowdy crowd, who sing every word with you from start to finish, which is nice too. It always varies, but getting to play to any crowd who want to listen to me is a blessing, so I aim to play the best show I can each night.

What’s been your most memorable moment on stage?

My most memorable moment on stage happened a few months ago. I was supporting Rhiannon Giddens on her European tour. I walked out on stage to a sold out Union Chapel venue and played on of the best gigs I’ve done.

If you could bring anyone up on stage to perform with you, who would it be?

I’d bring Nile Rodgers on stage with me, I know we would have a blast!

What else have you got lined up for this year?

Lots of shows, festivals and new musical projects so keep your eyes peeled out for them!

Words
Elly Watson
New Noise: Jordan Mackampa

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