Barbara Panther Mutumwinka is a Rwandan singer, songwriter, music composer and performer living in Berlin, Germany. She was raised in Brussels where she attended arts school and has for a long time been traveling around Europe doing contemporary dance. She had a chat with Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa about her love for music and art.
How did you fall in love with art and music?
As a child, I used to sing in the choir, so harmony and melodies have always been very important to me. I couldn’t imagine life without music. I find self-expression very important, because it enables me to be able to understand the world around me and inside of me, the arts are very helpful and necessary. A world without art would be dark. Art is also a reflection of the universe and nature.
How can you describe your journey in this field?
After realising that I could express myself better with my voice than with my body, I moved to Berlin after falling in love with the electronic music scene. I love Berlin, for its freedom and space. Time seems non-existent when you have lots of space to freely move around in.
How can you describe your music?
My music is very eclectic. I like to incorporate natural sounds mixed with electronic. I would call my music “African-futurism.”
What motivates your music?
I like the process of writing lyrics and then putting them to music. To finish a song feels like adding a small piece of a puzzle into the bigger picture. After each finished song, you feel more complete or you open a door to a deeper part in you waiting to be unraveled.
What do you mainly want to communicate with your music and art, and how do you actually get to do that?
It depends on the concept and atmosphere I try to create at a certain point in my life. It can be my personnel reflection of what is happening in the world, it can be about the universe or the beauty of nature or the state of humanity, in the way I perceive it.
How do you envision your music in the future?
I hope to keep doing what I do. Collaborating with other artistes and performing for diverse crowds all over the world.
Who have been your biggest motivators and supporters?
The people around me, but mostly myself. If you don’t appreciate your own art, it’s hard to be motivated, no matter what others think. My biggest motivator is my own instinct. When you listen closely and carefully, and in all honesty, to what your inner voice tells you, you can’t go wrong or have to worry about what others have to say.
What else do you do apart from music?
I model and collaborate on other people’s music. I sometimes write scores to diverse projects.
Do you have any plans of bringing your music experience to Rwanda?
Something that is on my dream list is to perform in Rwanda. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to in my life and I truly hope that this dream will one day come true.