Noise Pop Festival 2019 Presents: Kamaal Williams & Jitwam
March 1 @ 7:00 pm - 10:30 pm$20
Noise Pop Festival 2019 Presents:
Kamaal Williams & Jitwam
7PM Doors/ Show 7:30PM
$20 Advance/ $25 Day of Show
London’s Kamaal Williams is a gifted keyboardist, DJ, and producer known for combining his love of ’70s-style jazz fusion and funk with more contemporary hip-hop and electronic dance influences. Although he had played in various bands since the mid-2000s, including a two-year stint with dubstep singer Katy B, Williams first came to prominence in 2016 as a member of the jazz-funk duo Yussef Kamaal with drummer Yussef Dayes. Influenced by the ’70s albums of artists like Miles Davis and Eddie Henderson as well as works by acid jazz artists like Brand New Heavies, the duo garnered praise for its 2016 album, Black Focus. Since then, Williams embarked on a solo career, releasing his similarly cross-pollinated 2018 debut, The Return.
Born Henry Wu in South London, Williams grew up in a culturally diverse family with a Taiwanese mother and British father, both of whom worked in graphic design. Influenced by his parents, he learned some Mandarin as a child, and even picked up Muslim calligraphy, which he later put to use as a graffiti artist. By his teens, however, he was passionate about music and played percussion in the school band. An early love of the garage/grime duo Oxide & Neutrino led him to hip-hop. Around the same time, his father introduced him to jazz and fusion via artists like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Carlos Santana. He later discovered acid jazz groups like Brand New Heavies and Incognito.
By the time he left high school, he was an in-demand keyboardist, working in various funk groups around London. He joined dubstep singer Katy B’s backing band, and spent two years with the group. Around 2011, he left the band and converted to Islam, adopting the name Kamaal Williams. He signed with the artist-run 22a label and began producing his own tracks, combining his love of jazz with house music and electronic broken beat sounds. Around 2016, he befriended drummer Yussef Dayes and formed the jazz-funk duo Yussef Kamaal. After parting ways with Dayes, Williams returned in 2018 with his solo debut, The Return. The album found him honing his jazz-funk and electronic hybrid sound, working alongside bandmates drummer Joshua McKenzie (aka McKnasty), bassist Pete Martin, and sound engineer Richard Samuels.
Jitwam (Live Band)
Born in Assam, Gauhati, in Northeast India, but currently based in New York’s storied borough of Brooklyn, jitwam spent his formative years in New Zealand and Australia, before living in monasteries in Thailand, orphanages in South Africa, and washed out apartments in London.
Of everywhere and nowhere, his music draws influence from a litany of iconoclasts including, but not limited to RD Burman, Moondog, The Velvet Underground, Yayoi Kusama, Jay Electronica, Jay Dilla, Moodymann, Leon Thomas, Madlib and Asha Bhosle.
Across his debut album he utilises knowledge acquired through years spent digging through dusty crates, and talents honed as a multi- instrumentalist, producer, and vocalist. A series of stumbling, jazz/soul-rooted beat sculptures, each buried beneath a haze of fuzzy psychedelia, broken microphone blues, and articulated through a freestyled process he describes as “first thought, best thought”, ज़ितम सिहँ solidifies jitwam’s spot as a major emerging talent.
Recalling the fourth world dreamscapes explored by oddball songwriters like Connan Mockasin, Clarence Clarity, Jai Paul, Silicon, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, it represents a time of transition and remembrance for jitwam, while still fulfilling the core qualities he looks for in song.
In his words, “Music is a refuge. A shelter from the storm. A place you can go to close your eyes.”
Since he first shared his music with IZWID Records boss Kutmah at a Brainfeeder afterparty in London, jitwam has released through Leaving Records, Cosmic Compositions, and The Jazz Diaries (the label he co-runs with Casey Van Reyk and Nigel Mphisa). He’s also written with Inkswel (BBE) and Paul White (R&S), featured on Moodymann’s K7! DJ Kicks compilation, opened for Roy Ayers and been championed by Gilles Peterson, Alexander Nut, Andrew Jervis (Bandcamp), and Danger Mouse.