Some have already spent years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment - others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn a lot of heads. With this feature we shine a light on some of the most interesting emerging new talents our tiny country has to offer.
Next in line is the Brussels-based Kevin Mambele (although you can just call him by his last name). Even though this sample-crazy producer is still young of age, to many local music enthusiasts he’s been a household name in the city for a while already. As is the case with most boundary-breaking producers, this humble talent is not easily put in a particular category. Whether it’s house, disco, hip hop, soul or funk, this man can get your fix. He makes all sorts of beats, he hosts his Bolingo radio show on BRUZZ and he regularly plays parties with the records he finds on the local flea markets. A few months ago, his debut ‘Ya Mambo’ EP effortlessly displayed his subtle eclecticism. Needless to say it was about damn time we heard this guy out.
Hi Kevin! Where would you put yourself on the map of the musical universe?
"Good question, I don’t really know. I think I have that ‘hip hop mentality’, but hip hop wouldn’t exist without the influence of other genres of music. So in that sense I don’t limit myself to one genre. Discovering new music, trying out new stuff and improving my own sound are things I love to do. So all in all, I see myself more as a traveller on the map of the musical universe, rather than staying put in one place."
How does living in the multi-faced Brussels influence your music?
"Brussels is home to one of the world’s most diverse sets of population. Since I was just a kid, I’ve always been in contact with different cultures, which has helped me to be more open-minded in all aspects of my daily life – and music is one of those. Out here, there is so much beauty amongst this diversity, waiting to be discovered."
After some research we found out that your father used to be a rumba player. Is that where you got the groove from?
"I guess so, I don’t really know. He used to play and listen a lot of music at home when I was young. He is really passionate about Congolese rumba, so I think I inherited this enthusiasm for listening and discovering new music in general."
Your music is heavy on the use of samples. What’s the biggest appeal of sampling to you and why?
"Sampling, in my opinion, is a particular art form of making music, just like playing an instrument. It’s much more than just looping stuff; I see it as a way to perpetuate a tradition in hip hop. It spans from digging for new sounds (digital, vinyl and cassette) to making a song with the stuff you found. Additionally, I think it’s important that I try to push my boundaries further through sampling. In my opinion, sampling music keeps the music alive."
Your debut EP, ‘YA YAMBO’, came out a few months ago, which showcased many different sides of you. Is this release a coherent selection with a back story - or a more spontaneous collection of sketches you finished?
"The EP is a recollection of the first 2 years of living alone in the heart of Brussels; it’s a melting pot of compositions and samples. I would even say it’s a collection of different moods I went through in those years. Each song has a meaning on its own, but there is a certain connection throughout the EP. In the end, all of these are about love."
Does that cute album cover make a reference to your family and roots?
"Yes, it does. I’m really proud of my roots and my family. Even if I don’t believe in God, I still think I have been blessed to have parents like mine. I’ll be grateful to them forever."
You seem to have no hurry to “make it”, taking a wait-and-see approach instead. Is that correct? If so, why?
"It’s all about the love for music, but I’m still a student at the moment. When I finish my master degree, I will evaluate the opportunities in front of me; but in the meantime, I will continue to do what I love at my own pace. Hopefully one day I could be able to live of my music, but I guess only time will tell."
What’s on the schedule for you now? Tell us about your next move.
"There’s new music in the pipeline and I have a handful of upcoming gigs. I’m thinking about putting events with my radio show on BRUZZ. Although my priority for now is to graduate next year, without forgetting to love life with my family and friends."