Jamine De Wandel

The streets are her favourite place to make music, she dreams of starting an underwater band and her personal jam record stands at 22 hours. Her pronouns are she/her/love.

Jamine De Wandel vierkant
  • Jamine De Wandel vierkant
  • Jamine De Wandel vierkant
  • Jamine
  • IMG 3660

How did you join WISPER as a musician/teacher?

I played in the ‘buurtband’ (a WISPER concept where musicians from different backgrounds and cultures come together to jam, ed.) with Bart, whom I already knew from earlier improvisation sessions. All my life I have been experimenting with all possible contexts of jams, of bringing musical energy together, preferably from all over the world. I have also traveled a lot in the process, because for me musicality means interaction and being on the road, in all senses. Then, in the summer of 2022, I met Reindert (educational staff at WISPER, ed) during the summer jam. The vibe was so good then that we decided: we should do something with this.

You started giving ukulele workshops at WISPER. Why no jams?

That will definitely come next, but all of my lessons are based on improvisation, on creating a flow among musicians who didn't know each other before. Ukulele has something very playful and for me is a very accessible way to teach the abc of music and musicality. But of course, with beginners, you have to start with the basics. I found it very interesting to analyse that for myself: how do I get the musicality and drive for musical interaction that comes so naturally to me translated into a learning context for others?

Has making music always come naturally to you?

Natural may not be the right word, but I have always felt a kind of organic confidence that music is something for me. Trying out and discovering makes me feel free, technical challenges do not mean setbacks but an impulse to approach something in a different way. I am also completely self-taught, I never felt very much at home in an academic music context. A lot of your musical energy depends on your environment. Maybe I am too chaotic for a rigid education? In any case, I’m not a reference for a classical musician, that’s a fact (laughs).

Do you feel at home in all music styles?

I think it is more correct to state that I don't want to limit myself to a specific style. Right now I'm very much searching and developing my own songs that may end up on an album one day, a kind of jazz meets classical meets soundscape ... A sound in which I try to bring together everything that has crossed my path. But that is still in development. In jams I fall back on reggae as a kind of basic foundation to start improvising on. From there you can still go in any direction.

Did you consciously choose the path of a street musician?

It's something that has grown from moving out into the world, but on the street I still feel most comfortable. There's no pressure or commitment, just freedom and music, and passersby can pitch in or not. I still like that noncommittal sharing with casual passersby best, but there are other contexts in which I feel safe as a musician. This is also the result of my personal search for my identity and gender. Because of my gender dysphoria, I went through a very difficult time. During this period and also after my transition, music played a very big role in reshaping and rediscovering who I really am.

For me, music is about interaction and about being on the road, in every sense of that expression.

Why the choice to add "love" to your pronouns?

It was inspired by an anecdote from Sir Ian McKellen. When asked about his thoughts on gender themes, he told how once in Manchester he was greeted by a cab driver - an older man - not with "sir" but "love." As in: "where do you want to go, love?" And how that actually felt like the ultimate pronoun for him, the ultimate form of respect and love between people.

What misconception about being a musician do you want to end right here, right now?

As a self-taught musician, I can only say: play as much as you can and fail as hard as you can - until you find pleasure. You can play any instrument as challenging as you want, but the fun should always be the focus, not a judgment of the result.

What does your dream course look like?

I would like to organize a jam salon: jams, but with a more specific approach or theme. To rekindle the intercultural exchange that I experienced so strongly among musicians during my travels. Each week, I would invite a different musician who brings a new instrument sound, or a new style of music that manifests itself somewhere in the world. And which the group can then experiment with very casually by starting to jam on it. And if the budget is unlimited, I immediately turn it into a kind of local world festival. Let's call it WISPER Mondial!

What other artistic disciplines excite you?

Audio and visual arts are strongly interconnected for me. So I think it would be a nice idea to run a course turning image into music, and vice versa. Auditory paintings, graphic scores, that sort of thing. I'm also really into sea swimming, the performance aspect of that also excites me. I envision a kind of dolphinarium with a large glass wall, and two bands: an invisible above-water band whose music you hear, and an underwater band that you see playing in sync. Although the realization of such a thing is probably a big utopia (laughs).

What new musician would you like to tip us off to discover?

Come to the queer cafes here in Leuven! (Jamine is a core member of Queer Leuven, an organization that wants to bring more queerness to Leuven through meetings, events and art) That's where you hear the newer sounds that are rising in our society. There are so many non-binary artists experimenting with sound. Again, I’m linking music to that gender spectrum story, but it is striking how often artistry is linked to it. Just look at David Bowie and Prince.

Which musician would you like to share the studio or stage with?

I do have some idols and have had the opportunity to work with internationally known artists myself, but really anybody is fine with me. This is my inner street artist speaking: I find a spontaneous interaction moment with a random passerby just as transcendent as with a big name. Actually, I don't care who it is with, but rather the way we vibe. If it's not forced and everyone feels comfortable, I'm in.

Did you get curious after reading this interview?

Check out the music courses Check out Jamine's instagram
Jamine De Wandel vierkant
Written on Tue 9 April '24