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J.P. Bimeni

Musician — London

Photo: Tomoko Suwa Krull

Name, where are you from?
My full name J.P. Bimeni and I am from Burundi originally but live here in London now with my family.

Describe your style in three words?
Afro Soul with a drizzle of funk.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
Fat Freddy’s Drop. New Zealand band. I have known about them from the early days. And to see them at Koko’s, when they were starting to gain a bigger audience, it was simply magical. Trippy even.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
Bob Marley & The Wailers: I never of tire watching them on videos. It’s powerful every time I watch a live video and imagine being there. It’s the power, mysticism and sheer drive and commitment to something bigger than Marley or the Band. Second band? Otis Redding.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
New Age: it has broadened my perspectives about the world, people and the spiritual realm. Musically, a bit of everything. Reggae, soul, rockabilly, rock troubadour.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
It would probably have to be Mandela. I am from an African country, Burundi, with a disastrous history of civil wars. Mandela mediated the warring parties which led to peace accords then. But our region is still up in turmoil.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite?
Jazz Café in Camden. I have had memorable times playing there over the years and the place keeps changing. I guess it’s the emotional connection I have grown to have with the place. And also because growing up on the music scene and you get to play Jazz Café is considered a big deal and for that I am grateful.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
Maxwell, Carleen Anderson, Roots Manuva, Omar, Paul Weller... so many.


A descendant of the Burundian royal family, Bimeni fled his country aged 15 during the 1993 civil war. He was given refugee status and fled to the UK where he’s remained ever since. Originally settling in Wales he was able to buy records the first time in his life, discovering the music of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye.

With classic 60s-sounding Motown and Stax-inspired grooves, his debut album Free Me was written with musical director Eduardo Martínez and songwriter Marc Ibarz, creating songs of love and loss and tragic experiences. 

Bimeni's fans include such soul tastemakers as Robert Elms, Craig Charles and Keb Darge.

The first track you played on repeat?
'Now that we have love' by Third World
So catchy and uplifting with the rhythm. Back home in Burundi, I couldn’t speak English so it was just by feeling/vibe you got to love a song.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Fire' by Dr Alban.
We danced mad at this song. Again, the song has a strong message and we couldn't stay put when speakers blasted this out.

One record you would keep forever?
That’s really hard. I got 5 to 6 records all of Bob Marley I would find hard to chose from Uprising, Catch a Fire, Exodus, Kaya, Burnin’, Rastaman Vibration... it goes on.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
Not a particular song as such but energy found in the early songs of Bob Marley & The Wailers.

A song you wished you had written?
Let me be a lil wee bit presumptuous - 'You Do Something To Me' by Paul Weller.

Best song to turn up loud?
'Witness (1Hope)' by Roots Manuva

A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'Everytime You Go Away' by Paul Young

The song to get you straight on the dance floor?
'Got To Give It Up' by Marvin Gaye

Best song to end an all-nighter?
'Stone Free' by Jimi Hendrix

Any new bands you are into at the moment?
Them Crooked Vultures

Photo: Tomoko Suwa Krull

Name, where are you from?
My full name J.P. Bimeni and I am from Burundi originally but live here in London now with my family.

Describe your style in three words?
Afro Soul with a drizzle of funk.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
Fat Freddy’s Drop. New Zealand band. I have known about them from the early days. And to see them at Koko’s, when they were starting to gain a bigger audience, it was simply magical. Trippy even.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
Bob Marley & The Wailers: I never of tire watching them on videos. It’s powerful every time I watch a live video and imagine being there. It’s the power, mysticism and sheer drive and commitment to something bigger than Marley or the Band. Second band? Otis Redding.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
New Age: it has broadened my perspectives about the world, people and the spiritual realm. Musically, a bit of everything. Reggae, soul, rockabilly, rock troubadour.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
It would probably have to be Mandela. I am from an African country, Burundi, with a disastrous history of civil wars. Mandela mediated the warring parties which led to peace accords then. But our region is still up in turmoil.

Of all the venues you’ve played, which is your favourite?
Jazz Café in Camden. I have had memorable times playing there over the years and the place keeps changing. I guess it’s the emotional connection I have grown to have with the place. And also because growing up on the music scene and you get to play Jazz Café is considered a big deal and for that I am grateful.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
Maxwell, Carleen Anderson, Roots Manuva, Omar, Paul Weller... so many.


A descendant of the Burundian royal family, Bimeni fled his country aged 15 during the 1993 civil war. He was given refugee status and fled to the UK where he’s remained ever since. Originally settling in Wales he was able to buy records the first time in his life, discovering the music of Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Bob Marley and Marvin Gaye.

With classic 60s-sounding Motown and Stax-inspired grooves, his debut album Free Me was written with musical director Eduardo Martínez and songwriter Marc Ibarz, creating songs of love and loss and tragic experiences. 

Bimeni's fans include such soul tastemakers as Robert Elms, Craig Charles and Keb Darge.

The first track you played on repeat?
'Now that we have love' by Third World
So catchy and uplifting with the rhythm. Back home in Burundi, I couldn’t speak English so it was just by feeling/vibe you got to love a song.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Fire' by Dr Alban.
We danced mad at this song. Again, the song has a strong message and we couldn't stay put when speakers blasted this out.

One record you would keep forever?
That’s really hard. I got 5 to 6 records all of Bob Marley I would find hard to chose from Uprising, Catch a Fire, Exodus, Kaya, Burnin’, Rastaman Vibration... it goes on.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
Not a particular song as such but energy found in the early songs of Bob Marley & The Wailers.

A song you wished you had written?
Let me be a lil wee bit presumptuous - 'You Do Something To Me' by Paul Weller.

Best song to turn up loud?
'Witness (1Hope)' by Roots Manuva

A song people wouldn’t expect you to like?
'Everytime You Go Away' by Paul Young

The song to get you straight on the dance floor?
'Got To Give It Up' by Marvin Gaye

Best song to end an all-nighter?
'Stone Free' by Jimi Hendrix

Any new bands you are into at the moment?
Them Crooked Vultures

'Free Me' - J.P. Bimeni & The Black Belts (Official Audio)

'I Miss You' - J.P. Bimeni & The Black Belts (Official Audio)