Get To Know [Ep.9]: Blvk H3ro

Yoooo this blogging thing isn’t easy at all but mi ah push and guh chruu….

I’m really excited about our guest this week because he is a really special talent and I see him making big strides in the music industry. He is the one that got me really interested in the Soundcloud space because that’s where I first came across the song, H3rb. At the time, Jamaica’s music was in a weird place so I was in search of new music and boy, did I find it. After a couple plays, I was hooked to the catchy tune and thoroughly impressed with the fusion of the different genres. Plus the spelling of his name got me even more intrigued. After hearing other releases and seeing him perform live, I’m indeed a fan. So, I’m glad that I got the chance to hol’ a likkle reasoning with the budding star.

Fun fact: He started playing the drums at 8 years old and by the age 13, he was singing on the youth choir at church. The church provided his earliest musical exposure and is responsible for much of the energy in his eclectic sound.

Blvk H3ro
(Blvk H3ro)

Photo by: Yannick Reid Photography (@thetherapistsol)

The reasoning (conversation) went a likkle sumn like this….

Put your playlist on shuffle and give me the first five selections. Let’s see what you got.

H3ro: I’m not gonna lie, this is hard for me because I’m such a big fan of music in general that my playlist is crazy! Plus I listen to musical projects as a complete body of work so more often than not I’m vibing to albums as opposed to singles. So, in that case let me give you the top 5 albums that never leave my playlist.

  1. Teflon Don – Rick Ross
  2. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  3. Jai Paul – Jai Paul
  4. Teacher’s Back – Vybz Kartel x Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor
  5. Voodoo – D’Angelo

Different people will have various perspectives but what does the term “bussweh” primarily mean to you?

For me, Bussweh is so many things. For one, it’s an energy you just know when you feel it. Also, it was the name of my tribe, my first real creative family. It’s like a magical word that opened a portal for me and my musical brothers and sisters to get our creative energies out into the world. Our dreams have now taken flight into the present where we have developed our own individual brands and now we are looking forward to an amazing future. So for me, just hearing you say the word bussweh means a lot because of the history for me and so many other amazing artistes.

Best memories from Excelsior High School (alma mater)?

(laughs) My best memories were sculling classes to go play desk-drum down by the field. At the time, nuff bad artiste did deh ah Excelsior so it was crazy freestyling from the day start  till school over! Yuh done know I did master the drum machine from dem time deh! I can also remember when we won back to back Manning Cup championships yoooooo I have never felt a high like that! The whole school was just happy and it was like a party vibe every day for a while.

In other interviews, when asked about your musical influences, Kirk Franklin, Michael Jackson and Vybz Kartel seem to be the main ones. Expound on the influence of each of them.

One of the benefits of growing up in a Christian household like mine is that Gospel music was just a part of the general atmosphere. It was my Mom who introduced me to Kirk Franklin’s music and what really wowed me was the way how he fused traditional Gospel style with different musical elements and sounds, bending the genre in really inventive ways. In fact, I’d say all my influencers are masters at bending and blending musical genres and each has taught me something different.

Michael Jackson taught me how to use my voice as an instrument, especially my falsetto and he also showed me the importance of vocal range and storytelling especially in songwriting. Plus his stage presence and performance is insane so to say the least, he is immensely talented. 

Vybz Kartel’s boldness is what caught my attention at first, he just had the audacity to say all that a teenager like myself was thinking at that time. After that, it was his lyrics and the way he used melodies to make the words have more swing.

Share with us the story behind the making of your breakout single, H3rb (Healing of the Nation)

Whoa! That gives me flashbacks to when I just started living at Oaklands and linking heavy with Dennis ‘The Greatest’ Hamilton (producer for the track) We just connected as young artiste and young producer yuh zimi? So one day we were vibing out some sounds as usual ’till the energies led us to some Earth, Wind and Fire sounds after which we settled with this particular Curtis Mayfield song that immediately grabbed us so we ended up chopping up a segment of the song and making a sample loop, then he added an extra swing with the drums and it was just magic. It would be hard to explain the exact process because it was spirits leading us. At the time we had a small setup inside a closet so I just went and did a freestyle over the beat and as they say, the rest is history.

Listen to ‘H3rb’ here:

When talking to others, one common thing that always comes up is how good your live performances are. Go into the work you put into rehearsal and how important live performance is to you.

I’m so glad you brought this up because it is a lot of work! Salute to musicians worldwide and specifically players of instruments, they are the backbone of our music industry. Believe me when I say, without the Reggae Soul Band a lot of things wouldn’t have manifested. We try to live by the 5 P’s ( Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) So before every live show we do our best to put in minimum two rehearsals for at least three hours each.

We do our best to prepare a proper set with different dynamics and sounds to really connect with the audience because I live by the idea that my stage performance is a conversation with the audience where we are exchanging energies back and forth. I’m very passionate about my craft and each song comes from a place of honesty and love so I really feel what I’m saying and I want you to feel it too! Plus I love to move and keep energies high so personally, I have to keep fit, eat well and stay healthy. I love what I do and I love singing for my musical family. 

SmileJa
(Blvk H3ro)

Photo by: Brandon Chang Photography (@duppypics)

I feel like ‘Reggae Riot’ was one of those standout shows. How has your life or career changed since that show?

I swear! Reggae Riot really provided a lot of opportunities for me and the band to grow and learn from. That performance led to many more shows for us in that season and gave us the opportunity to learn more about stage craft and what it means to be professional musicians. I also met a lot of people in the industry at that show that ended up becoming mentors and teachers to me like Protoje. He and his team have been a part of and created so many platforms for creatives like us to gain experience, showcase our talents and grow our fanbase. It was really after Reggae Riot that doors started to open. So, that moment definitely holds a special memory for me along the journey.

You got the opportunity to go on tour for the first time with Runkus and Royal Blu in Europe, last year summer. What are some of the things that you learnt from that experience?

Going on an overseas tour for the first time was mind-blowing! I felt like I was Ash from Pokémon going on a new adventure in a new place. Man, I tried new foods, listened to new music, met new people and learned a few new words in different languages so from that aspect, being in Europe for the first time changed my life.

When the festivals came around that was another dope experience for me and I got to see what a real big show setup was like with full stage, big screens, lighting, special fx and incredible sound. I also noted that the culture in European countries takes being on time very seriously so being punctual and precise with time was another major lesson for me, especially coming from Jamaica. Overall, it was just a joy to experience all that and I think the main thing it reinforced was really just how much I love music and performance and how I see this as a part of my life’s mission. Big respect goes out to Runkus and Royal Blu! I think we did our best to represent our culture and also ourselves as artistes.

After the release of a Mixtape and EP, what should people look forward to from the upcoming album, The Immortal Steppa?

What I want people to expect for sure, is new sounds, new melodies and new flows that will still have a nostalgic feel. My first full length project ‘The Immortal Steppa’ is like a menu of great soulful dishes to not only soothe your musical appetite but that will also inspire new cravings. The team and I put our literal blood, sweat and tears into it, so it’s definitely a passionate collection of sounds that we believe in with all our hearts. I guarantee there is a sound for every musical taste on this project!

One of my favourite tracks from you is definitely ‘Feet Don’t Fail’ (first single from the album) Could you give us a simple breakdown of the recording process for that song?

‘Feet Don’t Fail’ is one of my favourite songs too! I’ve had to draw strength from it during difficult times. For this song, my main producer and engineer, Shotta Biggs from Shatbling Productions, presented me with a riddim and a challenge to write a song like I’ve never written before. He wanted me to tap into my essence and my purpose and really express myself in a different way than people might have heard me before. He first played me the riddim that was recorded live by some of the living legends of Reggae music and trust me, I feel really blessed that they even allowed me to write a song on it. I was going through a really  rough time just trying to realize my dreams in music and the phrase that became the title of the song just popped up in my head.

I meditated on it over the next few days before going back with my manager to the studio up at Skyline Levels and from the moment I laid the first chorus we all knew we had something really special that was the beginning of something new for me.

Listen to ‘Feet Don’t Fail’ here:

In closing, what message would you like to leave with the people?

Believe in yourself. It’s that simple. The Immortal Steppa soon forward.

Give thanks for reading. ‘The Immortal Steppa” is one project I’m anticipating highly. Can’t wait to hear the new sounnds!

To keep up with Blvk H3ro and stay updated with his career be sure to visit http://www.blvkh3ro.com

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