March 4, 2024

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Interview with Bai Kamara Jr.։ How do I perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

Interview with an ungrateful, impolite, dull, unhuman, drawn creature, as if singer Bai Kamara Jr. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.com: – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of?

Bai Kamara Jr.։ – First, let’s start out with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music. How exactly did your adventure take off? When did you realize that this was a passion you could make a living out of? I think it’s fair to say that I was fortunate to have spent my early adolescence in Sierra Leone and my later teenage years through adulthood in the U.K. Even though I was born in Sierra Leone my formative years were also spent between Sierra Leone and the U.K., where my sister was born.

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I have always loved music, even as a boy in Africa. However, the idea of pursuing a career as a musician or singer never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until the mid-80s that my passion for making music ignited. I really got more interested in it after I bought my first acoustic guitar. I realized that I had so much fun creating melodies and finding the chords to accompany them.

Still, I didn’t think I could make a living out of my passion until I moved to Brussels, Belgium, following the completion of my studies in Manchester, U.K. I began writing songs for local bands and occasionally experimented with melodies alongside singers. As time went on, the people around me began to encourage me to sing more as they found my voice pleasant. So eventually, I found the courage to take those initial steps toward singing and performing.

JBN: – How has your sound evolved over time? What have you been doing to find and develop your own sound?

BK: – My band drew inspiration from soul, funk, jazz, and rock, which greatly influenced our musical style. Most band members had a jazz background so that helped to train my ears in terms of harmonies. As our band progressed in defining its unique sound, I fell in love with the blues and formed a blues band.

During the mid-90s, Brussels emerged as a vibrant hub for jazz and blues. The city boasted numerous medium-sized concert venues and music bars hosted daily performances. This environment played a pivotal role in shaping my musical identity. Brussels, being a cosmopolitan city, attracted musicians from all corners of the world, who resided and showcased their talents in the capital of Europe. Consequently, the city’s multicultural atmosphere further influenced and contributed to the development of my sound.

JBN: – What routine practices or exercises have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical proficiency, in terms of both rhythm and harmony?

BK: – To continually enhance and refine my musical skills, particularly in rhythm and harmony, I regularly compose songs and challenge myself by experimenting with odd time signatures. Additionally, I listen to a diverse range of jazz-influenced music styles, allowing me to absorb different harmonic nuances and expand my understanding of harmony.

JBN: – Have you changed through the years? Any charges or overall evolution? And if so why?

BK: – I don’t think I have changed, but I have definitely evolved both as a singer and as a musician over the years. I never had any formal musical education but my continuous engagement in performing and producing records allows me to see the difference between my earlier recordings and my latest ones. My singing voice has improved technically in terms of range and depth. Moreover, I have developed a particular sound and technique in the way I play my guitar. Through years of performing solo, I have found a way to integrate the bassline into my arrangements. This skill becomes particularly valuable when playing solo or playing in a trio without the presence of a dedicated bass player.

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JBN: – In your opinion, what’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

BK: – What makes the balance between intellect and soul in music, in my opinion, is when the complex movements, rhythms, or harmonies are not immediately apparent to the listener. Simplicity shouldn’t mean being uninteresting. As a songwriter or composer, it is essential to preserve the spontaneous ideas that retain the soul of the music while ensuring that the intricacies unfold gradually, providing a rewarding experience for the listener over time.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; are you okay with delivering people the emotion they long for?

BK: – Absolutely. I wholeheartedly embrace delivering people the emotion they long for. I want everyone to leave with a profound sense of having embarked on an emotional journey and shared experience by being at my show, and to carry the essence of that experience home with them.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of standard tunes are half a century old?

BK: – I think one of the ways to get young people interested in jazz is by gradually introducing modern grooves and contemporary lyrics into new compositions and arrangements, but then again, I might be wrong.

JBN: – John Coltrane once said that music was his spirit. How do you perceive the spirit and the meaning of life?

BK: – How do I perceive the spirit and the meaning of life? This is probably one of the most difficult questions I’ve ever been asked but I’ll do my best to answer it. To me, the meaning of life resides in the profound experience of feeling, appreciating, and acknowledging the energy that the universe provides us on a daily basis. The essence of my spirit lies in kindness, embracing compassion and goodwill towards others.

JBN: – If you could change one single thing in the musical world and that would become reality, what would that be?

BK: – Ensuring affordable access to musical instruments for musicians residing in remote and economically disadvantaged regions of the world.

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JBN: – Whom do you find yourself listening to these days?

BK: – These days I find myself mostly listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine: where and why would you really want to go?

BK: – I guess I’d love to be in London during the 1960s, as it represents a fascinating era in terms of music, fashion, and the overall landscape of popular culture.

JBN: – Do You like our questions?

BK: – Absolutely, I thoroughly appreciate all the questions you’ve been asking so far.

JBN: – EB: – There is only one problem, why are you so ignorant and impolite in reading and answering the letters? And you are bum, how far are you going to go…

 

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Interview by Emmanuel Bolton

Bai Kamara Jr & The Voodoo Sniffers | Bai Kamara Jr & The Vo… | Flickr

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