A Chat With David Numami

The Belgian musician talks about challenging creativity and his upcoming debut record, The Blue Mixtape, which is scheduled for release on February 21st 2021.

By: Sun Noor

David Numwami is quite an out of the ordinary artist. His eye for creativity through music and artistic concepts has allowed him to become quite a notable figure in the underground music scenes in Brussels and Paris’. The musician, composer, DJ and brain behind the group, Le Colisée has drawn people in over the years through his multifaceted artistry. Numwami has previously collaborated with Nicholas Godin of Air, Flavien Berger and even shared the stage with Charlotte Gainsbourg at Coachella. His most recent works included a few of timeless and personal pop songs, which set the tone for his upcoming release. I caught up with the musician a few months back in order to discuss his creative process.

How have you been lately and what’s the situation like in Belgium since shows are still happening there?

“We have do have special shows, Corona shows since everyone has to sit down and wear a mask during the performance, it’s also limited capacity but it’s cool to hear loud music nowadays though.”I’m great. I was rehearsing in my living room because I have a show tomorrow.”

You played some shows in August, how were they?

“There are no moshpits but I was already done with them. To me it’s not that problematic because my live shows are very calm and quiet.It’s really appropriate. I saw a few people who were kind of trying to hype up their crowds because they’re so used to getting the crowd going but they were like, ‘what should I say?,’ I saw a rapper and she was trying to talk to the crowd but didn’t know what to say since she’s so used to hyping up the crowd. In my case it’s pretty convenient because I’m just singing very quiet music.”

It’s nice that you can at least have live shows in Belgium, we had some up until the fall but everything is all closed again.

“What theres’s nothing at all there?”

Yeah we had a few events recently but now were back to square one in this red zone.

“Oh no so you have to stay home and watch shows online? I feel like that where we’re heading. I’m not even sure I’ll play tomorrow. I had two shows cancelled already and I’ll be in Paris tomorrow so if it’s cancelled while I’m in Paris, I’ll at least get to enjoy my visit. It’s kind of like a win-win situation. That’s something I had to learn with the virus that carpe diem mentality, I can’t really control anything so I just get to enjoy what’s left and it’s pretty cool. I just hope not too many people die.

You’re a very creative person, have you always been interested in art and music? 

“Yeah, I started learning music when I was five and I was not really interested at the time, my mom told me I had to do music otherwise I’d be traumatized by life, so she kind of forced me to learn about it. I think I became interested four or five years later, when I was able to do something. Before that I was doing theory classes I did not like and I also didn’t enjoy guitar at first because it hurt my finger, it’s really inconvenient. I started doing covers with my friends when I was around 9-10 as well. I feel like it’s been a long time and maybe too long because I was talking to my other earlier and she was asking me when I was going to get a real job and stop this music stuff.”

What are some of the artists you enjoyed listening to growing up?

“My main idol was Jimi Hendrix, I was always trying to copy his solos but growing up I was also really into indie-rock bands like Arctic Monkeys and Bloc Party and I know for sure there are a lot of videos of my and my friends doing covers of their songs. I don’t know if it aged well but I think so.”

Do you find it difficult to be creative when times seem harder? 

“I find it easier because I feel like now there’s kind of a purpose to it. Now that creativity is challenged, I have to be creative. It’s always been difficult but I feel like before I was just doing my thing, I was not holding on to the art. To me it’s very easy to be creative because it’s challenged now and I have to defend it in a way. Also, what’s kind of cool is that there’s a shift. We have to find ways to do things like play live without being boring, find ways to still do music videos and record. I think it’s weirdly easier.”

David Numwami by Mathieu Teissier

You’re also a visual artist on top of being a musician, do you find inspiration from similar sources for both?

“No, I don’t think so. I wouldn’t describe myself as a visual artist yet because I still have a lot to learn. At the moment, I just do visuals myself if I don’t have anyone else to do them for me. I don’t really know anything about the way I work, I just think of how it would be cool if there was some red and blue in this part of the screen and go with it. I also don’ know where I find inspiration, maybe from Instagram scrolling through and saving pictures, then I try to have nice visuals. Also what I like about making visuals is that there is no pressure. I directed the music video for my last song, “Beats!,” and I was having fun, which was different from making the song. When I was mixing and recording it, I was really stressed out thinking about how I was learning music for 20 years and how it had to be good.”

What makes a good beat? 

“I was listening to a really good beat today from a song by Lil Yatchy and Playboi Carti for their song “Get Dripped,” and I think I liked it because the sounds were so original. To me my favourite beats are the ones where you feel like you can touch the sound. A good beat grabs your attention because the sounds are crazy, there just has to be a good balance with the cadence since it’s mostly just the kick snare, the rest is in the music. As long there’s a good balance rhythmically and in volume and the sounds are good, you have the perfect beat. The balance between the kick and the snare in “Beats!,” are great but the sounds it’s not that original. It’s a good beat but it’s not that original compared to what I’m making now. “

I think its still cool because it captures people attention right away in the change in tempo.

“That’s an essential part of the beat. I think you’ll know if you have a good beat right at the start. Sometimes I’ve been in the studio with others struggling with a beat for a long time and often times it was just a bad beat. If you spend more than three days trying to find a way to like the beat, it’s probably not great.”

What can you tell us about your upcoming album The Blue Mixtape?

“It’s going to change so I don’t know yet. There are a lot of songs that I’m working on and others that I’m finished but it’s going to be blue in a sad way. To me blue means bittersweet. Songs like “Beats!,” and “Le Fisc de L’amour,” put me in a good mood when you hear the music but when you listen to the lyrics it’s a bit sad. Even in the chords I use it’s major but it’s also major 7 so it’s quite somber. You can dance to this album but you’ll probably also tear up. I don’t think it’ll be that sad though, maybe it’ll be an album to have complex feelings to.”

Lastly, what are you favourite albums at the moment?

“My favourite album at the moment is Galore by Oklou, she’s a French artist who just released that mixtape.”

The Blue Mixtape is due on February 21st 2021.

Watch the video for “Beats!,” below:

Header photo by Mathieu Teissier

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