SLT0324 David Numwami

The secret life of David Numwami: 'I virtually lived in the library'

Tom Zonderman

David Numwami will soon renew his love for music with a new EP. In the meantime, the Brussels creator of pastel-coloured pop songs feasts on comics.

“I almost lived in that place,” David Numwami chuckles as schoolchildren from the Marollen/Marolles barge into the offerings at the Bruegel library. He is talking about another library, the one in Louvain-la-Neuve, which he went to as a young kid as soon as the school bell told him he could go. “I had no money to borrow anything, but the staff didn't mind. Next to the library was a media library, where I also spent hours with my headphones on. There was this guy, Jérôme, and he was always recommending things. I spent a lot of time in the comic book shop Slumberland in the city centre too. The owner gave me the occasional comic book.”

Whenever I read a comic, I always heard sounds accompanying it. Boing, krang, dzing! Just as I also hear cartoonish sounds when I see someone walking across the zebra crossing

At a young age, the Brussels songwriter became enchanted by L'ascension du haut mal (published in English as Epileptic) by French cartoonist David B., and the Frank series by American Jim Woodring. “Or this one here,” he says whilst putting Patrice Killoffer's Quand faut y aller under my nose. “That is also a comic in black and white, but very psychedelic. When I read that, I felt like I was on drugs.” Numwami started drawing himself and dreamed of making a living as a cartoonist. That changed when he turned sixteen. “I became completely captivated by buildings through François Schuiten's comics. I wanted to be an architect and enrolled at the La Cambre-Horta School of Architecture.”

As he did not want to make a hard choice, he went on to study philosophy and, in the end, followed his vocation as a musician. But you don't have to be clairvoyant to discern a link between comics and Numwami's light-hearted, candy-coloured musical universe. “Whenever I read a comic, I always heard sounds accompanying it,” he laughs. “Boing, krang, dzing! Just as I also hear cartoonish sounds when I see someone walking across the zebra crossing. That is exactly how I depicted it in my music video for 'Beats'.”

Comics shaped his imagination, says Numwami. “You see those frames, but often you have to give meaning to them in your head. That has given me many insights, even more so than books. You end up in a world that has its own logic, as if you end up in someone's head. Making music is actually something similar. With my EP Numwami World from three years ago, I basically said: Welcome inside my head.”

The EP I Love You will be released on 15 March (Unity Records), on 21 March will perform at the Ancienne Belgique,

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