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Austin, Texas-based songwriter Christelle Bofale will be the first to tell you the importance of family roots and mental health, considering how much those things aided her own self-discovery. Being the first American born in her family, the rich heritage of the Congo is deeply rooted in her upbringing and relationship with sounds. From singing and dancing with her mother as a child, to praying to Congolese music with her grandmother, to her father, a soukous guitar player and musical director for the Congregation at his church, Bofale’s journey as a musician has been defined in tiny intervals throughout the course of her life. As a songwriter, she infuses hints of the Congo into various aspects of her music, bridging the musical influences of the diaspora with juxtaposed elements of indie rock, soul and jazz respectively.
Weightless guitar tangents and lush, aquatic soundscapes are a vital part of what embodies Swim Team, her debut EP that serves a powerful introduction to Bofale’s budding artistry. Somewhere between influences like Joni Mitchell and Alex G, Bofale has found a sweet spot for her sound that lives between both harsh and gentle terrain, achieving a relaxing, yet rugged tonality. Each track pictured on Swim Team is brushed vividly with colors that illuminate the fear of being honest and doing that much needed personal work. Bofale's earnest and bravery is a snapshot of black mental health and the nuance it carries. Being real isn’t easy, but it’s crucial in cultivating spaces for healthy discussion and giving other black women like Bofale a platform to do the same.