A world of musical influences
From the Eastern Province of Zambia via Lusaka and Frankfurt am Main into the Hintertaunus – these are four stops in the time lapse of Yvonne Mwale’s journey to happiness. As a person and as a musician. But what does an African singer sound like who has settled in Germany far from home? Yvonne Mwale has expanded the spectrum of her inspirations over four albums, because she has lost the fear of having to fulfil every expectation.
Free Soul – New Sound
For the new, fourth CD “Free Soul” they tried a new, completely different production strategy. “This time we wanted to try out a lot of things, experiment with small teams in small studios, try out many things over and over again in different constellations, discard ideas, add new ones,” explains Matthias Krämer, the album’s Executive Producer. “All pieces went through a much longer creative process. We had no time limits this time – no pressure, no predetermined conditions”. This way the compositions could grow. Even though live Yvonne Mwale often only performs with guitar and percussion accompaniment on stage, at festivals maybe also with bass, drums and keyboards, for this album the range of instruments was extended. The Keys create various atmospheres and fine orchestration. The Electric bass and also double bass are used depending on the desired sound texture. Cellos create elegiac arcs of tension. A Hammond organ sound provides a gospel feeling. The Handpan evokes floating, mysterious sounds. The fascinating guitar work by Tilmann Höhn, who many people place between Blues and Psychedelic Rock because of his other engagements, brings a pan-African touch to the arrangements. His playing seems to be inspired – more intuitively than really adapted – by West African instruments like the kora harp or the ngoni lute. As if the man had internalized the Mali Blues, Afrobeat or Juju Music with its cascading tones. When Yvonne succumbs to the lively charm of an island in the Indian Ocean and the Arabic culture as in “Dance Of Zanzibar”, you think you hear an oud. Even an 18-string aliquot guitar is used. Just one of many mosaic pieces in the unique Mwale sound.Free Soul – New Life
One must be able to let go of the past in order to turn to the future. For Yvonne Mwale, after rather carefree years in eastern Zambia, it was the death of both parents at the age of 12 that threw her off course and robbed her of her youth. She lived on the streets in the country’s capital for a while, became a mother when she was young and found a perspective in music. “I have had terrible experiences in my life,” says Yvonne Mwale. This is part of her vita, and was certainly also a theme in songs from earlier albums such as “Kalamatila” (2012) and “Ninkale – Le Me Be” (2015). “Msimbi Wakuda”, released one year later, already signalled the dawn of new times.
Free Soul – Free Spirit
The new album “Free Soul” now takes Yvonne Mwale’s music to the next level and continues the liberation begun with “Msimbi Wakuda”, musically and personally. The title “Free Soul” suggests this: “This is a very personal song”, explains Yvonne Mwale. It was all about cracking the shell, seeking freedom, being able to express your feelings as a whole and expressing herself through music. “Communication with people, from soul to soul,” is how the singer formulates her claim. No more and no less. “I have nothing to hide”, she calls herself a “free spirit”, open, self-confident and optimistic. “I want the listeners to hear and see who I am”, she says, spreads “positive vibes”, declares dancing to be therapy to feel better and declares love to be the motor of life. “And if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love other people” is the simple message in the finale of “Free Soul”, “Inner Spirit”. “Shake Your Bumbum” (single release date: 27.03.2020) expresses pure joy of life. You can probably guess what she wants you to shake in this song … “This is part of our African culture”, Yvonne Mwale laughs. And that’s includes shaking your butt without any offense.
Free Soul – Free Voice
Even though dance music as a term is also mentioned, the music moves quite naturally between tribal music, soul, jazz and stops by funk along the way. “Learn About Life” could also fit the repertoire of a Kamasi Washington. At the same time avoiding cliché. Nothing here sounds like US-R&B. Instead, it’s the singer’s scat escapades that are always associated with jazz. The voice is Yvonne Mwale’s favourite instrument. “I love to play with my voice,” she admits. “And I love to improvise.” Richard Bona has left an impression on her with his loop artistry which encourages her to discover different timbres for her interpretations. “And I love beatboxing and I can also rap”, she doesn’t wish to impose restrictions on herself in terms of the flexibility of her vocal performance any longer. Suddenly, passages are discovered quite unexpectedly, when Yvonne Mwale suddenly gives the classical diva and propells her voice up to the highest heights. This was a lot of fun for her, because she also loves opera. It is only a matter of time until a journalist declares her the “Nina Hagen of Afropop”…