Language is one of the most important tools of connectivity on the planet.
It's something that can be enormously expressive, rendering a multiplicity of emotions in stark, evocative style.
Pierre Kwenders has learned this lesson well. Based in Montreal but born in Congo, his upcoming album features production from Shabazz Palaces' Tendai Maraire and no less than five different languages.
In Europe as part of POP Montreal's POP OFF tour, Clash spoke to Pierre Kwenders about his feelings on language, and how it is used.
- - -
- - -
This has never been a calculated plan for me to sing and rap in five different languages. I remember when I first started writing and singing in French, and then I soon realised that something primordial was missing in my creative process.
I could not identify myself completely with what I was doing. It was then that I tried to sing, for the first time, in Lingala. The sequel was logical.
Although I sing in five languages, you should know that I speak only three. I speak Lingala, French and English. In addition to these three languages I sing in Tshiluba and Kikongo. The choice of languages is made of the very natural way and often the music is what helps me to choose.
Most of the time, the first feeling I get of a song is decisive for the choice of language. It is certain that for the more rhythmic songs, with pronounced percussions, like 'African Dream', the choice was Tshiluba because these rhythms remind me of these traditional songs and dances like the Mutuashi (traditional dance of Kasaï) popularized by Tshala Muana.
Most of the time I sing in Lingala which is the predominant language in Congolese Rumba. It is a very melodic language that blends easily with the music and most importantly can express all different kind of emotions.
The main purpose is to set the audience on a journey. I want them to live unforgettable moments. I want them to be carried away by the music, by these sounds and words that they may or may not completely understand. Certainly, there is a bit of French and English here and there, so they could know what I'm talking about.
I believe that musical expression goes beyond the understanding of lyrics. When I was younger, I would listen and dance to Michael Jackson without even knowing a word of English. I remember that his music was making me happy and I felt also comfort when listening to him.
I want everybody to feel the same way about my music. Even though all translation of my lyrics are available, I want the fans to connect emotionally with my sound. Music must be felt. It is by the feeling that you understand one's essence.
- - -
- - -
Catch Pierre Kwenders at the following shows:
26 Liverpool Sound City @ Constellation
27 Liverpool Sound City @ Pirate Stage on Clarence Dock
29 Paris Le Pop-Up du Label
1 Berlin Torstraßen Festival warm up show @ Acud
3 Krakow GreenZOO Festival @ Club RE