BVA is a a well loved staple within the confines of the UK scene, having toured as part of the supergroup the Four Owls and released a vibrant back catalogue with both 3 Amigos and Brothers of the Stone. But now the time has come for him to fly solo. We speak to him in the days leading up to release of his debut album Be Very Aware, to chat about life on the road, fan experiences and working with some of the biggest names in American hip hop.
UKHH: Easy BVA! How are things going?
BVA: Good, chillin.
Sweet. Lets get right in here, what was it like growing up in the West Country? Was there much of a hip hop scene prior to yourself and Leaf becoming well known?
Theres not much to do in the West Country so we all kinda grew up quick doing the wrong things for better or worse [laughs]. The hip hop scene’s always been going on in the West because of Bristol and places like that basically where there has always been a scene. Leaf and I are new school to some heads trust me.
Is making music your full time job? If so when did you decide to take the plunge to become a self employed artist?
I’ve been self employed for about a year and a half now or something but I’m still not living off of it. Just anything else I do is part time if you get me and I get a bit of help from the government etc. I haven’t had a 40 hour week job for that long (some peoples idea of works different out here). But before that I worked full time being a chef or various other jobs for 10 years straight on minimum wage most the time… I really appreciate being able to focus on the music and Leaf and I’s label, RLD Records, even if I am a bit broker… I get by and the rent gets paid just about!
Going back to last summer High Focus dominated the festival circuit, but which was your favourite on road memory?
Probably walking out on the main stage at outlook and seeing people there to watch us! Its all very well playing the main stage but if theres no one there to watch you you’d feel like a bit of a lemon eh. There was a fuck load of people, even though I’d fucked my voice from our boat party and going in far too hard the day/night before it was still an epic moment.
My opinions on the UK scene as a whole are that its sick right now and always has been, it might not be pretty or glamorous, it rises and sinks from time to time but it ain’t going nowhere!
Your new record, Be Very Aware, is dropping in a matter of days, how would you describe the albums overall sound?
Boom bap bangers.
How does the new album differ from the music made with 3 Amigos/Brothers of the Stone?
It’s different because its more personal lyric wise and is obviously just my creation this time rather than 2/3 peoples so its bound to come out differently but with the same traits as I made it with the same producers etc.
Is it still a strange feeling getting noticed after your shows? Do you ever get mobbed on your way out from a venue?
I mean yeah sometimes we kinda get mobbed in some places and not others. Its always a bit strange and mind blowing of course, but you gotta love it and i’m definitely more used to it now I think. Its just weird getting spotted up when your doing normal things to be honest… People will kinda give you a weird look or double check you then sometimes come over and shit. They can be slightly awkward situations with little stare offs and shit, but its always cool.
Did you ever anticipate just how popular Nature’s Greatest Mystery would be?
Nah, not for shit! It all happened real quickly to be honest making it and that. Then even when we were making videos we still had our doubts about rocking the masks and shit. It wasn’t until it dropped that I stood back really… It still amazes me now how well it did, I’m just real happy to have been a part of it standardly.
Its opened doors on the gig circuit for sure. We still get bookings in UK and Europe now off the back of it and obviously bringing out material as solo artists also helps. All the American collaborations we have acquired (like [Vinnie] Paz and KRS) have been through Leaf Dog or Illinformed’s beat trades and hustles so far – the internet opened that door for sure.
You’ve been around for a while, what are your opinions of the UK scene as a whole? What does it take for a newcomer to make it big over here?
[Laughs] I wouldn’t know. Hard work and perseverance I guess, I’ll let you know when I’m making it big! My opinions on the UK scene as a whole are that its sick right now and always has been, it might not be pretty or glamorous, it rises and sinks from time to time but it ain’t going nowhere! It’s always full of life you just have to look a bit harder sometimes.
We asked the general public to shoot you some random questions, here are some of them:
If you had to live your life as any TV/film character who would it be and why?
Cheech, he’s always got weed and is always getting pussy somehow.
What is your favourite type of butter?
That proper shit from the butchers that looks like a cow shat it out and they lopped it off with a machete, wrapped it up in cling film and stuck a price on it… Or am i meant to say cannabutter?
Finally, any shout outs you’d like to give?
Shout out all my High Focus gang, all the RLD soldiers and anyone doing this shit rain or shine. Watch out for ‘Jack Jetson – The Adventures of Jonny Strange’ and ‘Smellington Piff – Notice of Eviction’ both coming real soon on Leaf and I’s label RLD Records
Interview by Louise Brisbane