MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST PRODUCER AND VOCALIST DISCUSSES HIS ALBUM THIRD
An amazing ability to combine artistry with awesomely commercial beats has turned Jitwam into a majestic musical force.
The multi-instrumentalist producer, vocalist, and psychedelic soul-savant has combined high energy live performances around the world with songs that put a new spin on commercial music. This has gained the Assam-born talent multi-cultural fans, hailing from diverse backgrounds, and turned him into an exciting creative force. Now based between New York and London, he runs the record label The Jazz Diaries and has just released his new album Third.
Like his previous two albums, it features big collaborations along with diverse influences that range from jazz to hard dancefloor beats. The new 10-track album also has his signature live sound, which includes Latin music, soul, punk, samples, and disco.
Eastern Eye caught up with Jitwam to discuss his new album, live performance mastery, and close connection to music.
What first connected you to music? Music was an escapism to me, a world filled with wonder and mystery. Music is a way to express myself, keep me self-engaged, thoughtful, and present in this life.
Which of your songs have been closest to your heart? Music is like photographs to me. They take me back and remind me of certain moments in my life. I like to think of my albums as diary entries – the songs I cherish the most change from day to day, but for now I guess Temptations, Arias Song and Yyy.
Tell us about your new album Third? The new album is a sonic cultural melting pot, exploring music from the diaspora, and threading the needle between disparate genres and sounds. From funk, rock, soul, blues and disco, Third is a life in thirds – birth, death, and rebirth. It’s really a renaissance record from me, as I combine the best making skills and move them into the world of live instrumentation and live musicianship.
You have collaborated with some great artists on there. Tell us something about that? It features a whole host of musicians and collaborators, including India’s NATE08 and Sid Vashi, as well as raps from Ahkatari, Elle Shimada, and Horatio Luna, all of whom have released albums on my label The Jazz Diaries. It’s definitely my most sonically considered album to date – one for the lovers and the fighters.
How does this compare to your previous two LPs? Nothing’s really changed, just more of a continuation. This album really picks up from where I left in my last album Honeycomb, bringing into the mix more diasporic sounds and rhythms from all over the world, combined with the hip hop sensibilities I grew up with as a child.
You have a very unique sound, but how would you describe it? Psychedelic sampleladelica with live instrumentation and musicianship.
Who are you hoping connects with the songs on the new album? Everyone from everywhere. I hope it inspires some time for reflection and a journey within.
Is there a song on the new album that resonates with you? Every day it changes. Now I am sitting with my family in Assam, so I will have to go with Hey Papi – it is a real moment of reflection for me, trying to find beauty in the mundane and magic in routine.
You have made a name for yourself as a live performer. How much does that influence songs that you create? The live stuff has had a profound impact on my recordings. Mostly being blessed with the opportunity to collaborate and work with some of the greatest musicians in their scenes. We have a bunch of live shows coming up, including London Jazz Festival and shows across America and Europe. I hope to bring the band out here next year, god willing.
What has been your most memorable live performance? Sydney Opera House most definitely. One for the record books, with an all POC band, on indigenous land, at Sydney’s most storied and iconic venue.
What inspires you musically? Turning the mundane into the extra ordinary. Finding familiar sounds and contrasting them in the most unexpected of ways.
What kind of music dominates your own playlist? That would be 2000s r’n’b.
Who is your own musical hero? RD Burman. India’s most progressive and ground-breaking composer. I really feel like I’m continuing the legacy of India, which has always been the cultural melting pot of the world in religion, mathematics, culture, and style.
Why should we pick up your new album Third? If you want to hear the familiar in the most unexpected of ways, if you want to hear something authentic, which inspires you in yourself to get up and do, then pick me up.