For Jitwam, his career in music has always felt predestined. The first record he bought - a $2 blank white-label vinyl - turned out to be a Moodymann track, a discovery he made around the same time he found out his music would be featured on Moodymann’s DJ Kicks compilation. That, like countless other examples, reinforces a narrative Jitwam has been trying to espouse in his music: one of universality, of one consciousness to understand we’re one human race. “In music, there have always been blessings along the way. I’ve always had a spirit that wants to give. Instinctually, it feels natural to me. The experiences I’ve had have shaped my concepts of unity indirectly. Taking those experiences into your unique worldview dictates how you feel about certain issues.”
This ethos rings true in his work where he prioritises purpose over spectacle. After finding success through a handful of tracks as well two LPs, ‘ज़ितम सिहँ’ and ‘Honeycomb’, Jitwam has become a mainstay of the underground. Incorporating sounds from across the world, he marries incisive political commentary with deep introspection creating work that is, at once, wrenchingly intimate and sweetly playful. It’s on his latest record, ‘Third’, though, where his ideas are fully formed, ready to take flight. “I’m more inclined to release music that means something to me as opposed to ‘I got a hit record’,” he says.
Born in Guwahati, Assam in India, Jitwam is an only child who migrated with his parents to Sydney, Australia. Growing up in the suburbs, he was influenced by bands like The Avalanches, Gerling, and Sleepy Jackson. He played the guitar, took keyboard lessons and started writing songs as early as 14, but it wasn't his 20s, after travelling around the world, that he started taking music seriously. “I stayed in an orphanage in South Africa, I was at a monastery in Thailand for three months,” he explains. “I went travelling through India, staying with people that reclaim forest areas, learning how to live on the land, so you’d create your toilet irrigation systems, cooking stuff literally in the middle of the forest… Then, I moved to London.”
Jitwam is also the co-founder of seminal label The Jazz Diaries, a venture he started to shine a light on artists blurring the lines between electronics and live instrumentation. “The label exists to provide an infrastructure to elevate and execute the dreams artists have in their head,” he says. Over the past two years, Jitwam has also been at the forefront of the current South Asian wave taking over the music industry, including helping establish London-based arts collective and label Chalo, as well as being a headline live act at the incredible Dialled In Festival.
Image by Rui Rodrigues
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