Get To Know: Kimyan Law
From: Vienna, Austria Via DRC
For Fans Of: Frederic Robinson, BOP, Mystic State
Three Tracks: ‘Run Ames (Feat Robert Manos)’, ‘Yore Dub’, ‘Krieg’
Kimyan Law defies simple description in more ways than one. An exiled child of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s long-running, ever-intractable civil war, his unique personal history forms a key part of his creative puzzle. He tells DJ Mag that this cultural, emotional and familial disconnect from his heritage “really, really hurts”, a pain compounded by racial exclusion in his home of Austria. Like so many others, art has become his mode of personal expression, and he believes he has a “duty to myself as an artist to develop a filter, or something to bind all those thoughts and feelings into something that I feel is necessary to make a meaningful piece, a narrative”.
The form that art takes also defies simple description, and it’s more than just a reflection of his past. Kimyan Law combines drum & bass with melancholic ambience to produce a sound so singular that he found critical acclaim almost immediately upon the release of his debut album, ‘Coeur Calme’, in 2014 on Blu Mar Ten Music. His 2016 follow-up, ‘Zawadi’, was even better, and to him it’s “the first album where I saw myself as an artist, where I knew how I wanted my art to look and sound”. Since then, he’s “learnt a lot and grown as a human” and feels newly “comfortable going in the direction I’m going in, without really knowing what it is”.
Which brings us to album number three: ‘Yonda’, a Swahili word meaning certainty of travel to an uncertain place. Every creation Kimyan Law makes has a concept, a narrative or what he terms a “portrait”, and ‘Yonda’ is “about the destructive aspect, it’s about the peace or healing aspect of the environment, of nature, of the living thing, of our consciousness”. The first track, ‘Jaardin’, exemplifies this focus on destruction and creation and, as luscious piano chords crescendo into featherweight jungle, you can feel the “theme of one human life or human life cycle, that sense of life passing”.
‘Yonda’ is harsher and more guttural than ‘Coeur Calme’ or ‘Zawadi’, and nowhere is this more obvious than on the nine-minute-long ‘Krieg’, which Kimyan Law describes as “my auditory portrayal of war, as close as I ever was to it”. He also tells DJ Mag: “I feel like I’ve never made more honest music,” music he sees as “hot and cold at the same time. It’s not unsettling, but it’s not comfortable either, it’s got a tension within it.” Listening to him speak both quickly and passionately, you get the sense he has always had this tension inside him, but has only now learned to accept it, a fact alluded to by his words that he feels blessed to be “in this place where I’m comfortable being uncomfortable, in an emotional sense”. Both ‘Yonda’ and Kimyan Law himself are about the intersection — the tension — between different cultures and people, about attempting to both connect with, and stay true to, your heritage while also exploring new ground. We finish our interview on the topic of the Amazon rainforest, and he ruminates on the other theme behind ‘Yonda’: destruction and creation. “The only thing I would say is that we destroy a lot of things,” Law concludes. “We don’t think about destroying them, but we do. We need to heal again.”
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