Jordan Mackampa effortlessly blends jazz, folk, and gospel music with his poetically smooth voice and seamless melodies that run like water down a gentle stream. Mackampa, born in the the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised between London and Coventry, is inspired by his mother’s love of the great soul singers (Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield), and creates deeply personal stories based on his own experiences through the different cities he’d inhabited over the years, real stories and issues many can relate to.
Ahead of Mackampa is a North American and European tour, which he kicked off in Dallas on October 25th with a British indie rock band Amber Run. Like any other urban visitor, Jordan explores a local neighborhood, taking pictures of “nice looking things” which we then see on his Instagram feed, but there’s more Jordan had to share with us in anticipation of his visit to the 6ix.
Kateryna Topol: Hello Jordan, so you’re on tour, any cities you are particularly looking forward to?
Jordan Mackampa: New York, Chicago, Toronto (obviously), and Salt Lake City, but being able to travel around the states in itself is a dream come true, the shows have been so great thus far.
KT: You’re touring with another band, Amber Run, how is that relationship coming along?
JM: We’ve quickly turned it to a tight-knit family in the past week or so we’ve been together, which just makes everything a lot more fun. I’ll be very sad to leave them all, once the tour is over, but I’ll deal with those tears once I get there!
KT: I’ve read your love for music began in early childhood but when did you decide to pursue a career in music, what motivated that?
JM: I’ve always wanted to pursue music, although I really knuckled down with the idea during my 2nd year of university.
KT: I love the instrumentals on “What Am I” – is that all you or are you working with a band?
JM: I was lucky enough to have some of the best session musicians in the game working on my album with me, which made the whole recording process a breeze, especially when my music theory knowledge is sub-par. Being able to explain the tone, sound and feel I’m after in different sections, without feeling stupid was truly a blessing.
KT: How does the collaboration with the band work?
JM: I play with three other incredibly talented musicians, and it’s definitely an ‘everyone is free to share ideas’ kinda set up, with the understanding that if I want something played a certain way, it’s a done deal.
KT: Can you walk us through your songwriting process a little
JM: It’s nothing special, to be honest! A bunch of mumbling into my phone, leaving it on a loop for hours once I’ve found a melody I like, then endless writing, scratching out sentences and formatting until I’ve got something semi-decent!
KT: Typical writer things then. Looking back, over the last few years, what would you say the highlights of your music career have been?
JM: Recording an album was definitely one, playing British Summer Time with Tom Petty just before he passed away was incredibly special for me, and being able to quit my two jobs and focus on my music career a few years back was something too.
KT: That must’ve felt amazing! What about challenges, were there any?
JM: Many! Trying to balance two jobs and a growing music career, as well as my own struggles with my mental health was certainly a challenge. But I feel as though I’m in a place mentally, that’s a lot healthier and more certain of what my career is going to look like over the next 3 years.
KT: Sounds very promising! What is next for you, looking ahead into 2020?
JM: Tours, tours, writing, debut album, tours, writing – this is just a constant loop of what runs through my mind!
KT: Hehe, looking forward to seeing it all realized! Thank you very much for your time, see you in Toronto!
JM: My pleasure, see you then!
Photos by Josh Shinner