August 29, 2013

BVH unhooked

I have a very faint memory of myself rambling to a bemused Victor about how much I enjoyed his "angry emo music." As my impressive lingo must have demonstrated, I had but a dim awareness of the mind-twisting, dopamine-charged, chills-down-your-spine rollercoaster that is the humble world of dance music. Fast-forward two years, Brad and I are chasing after tagging along with Sean Tyas as he walks to a parking lot after his show: Brad, asking what I'm assuming are educated/musicky questions while I was just being a total groupie (I'm not too cool to admit it).

Every scene, be it music, fashion or otherwise, has its people: the die-hard fans, the "bandwagoners", the ones who feign indifference, the ones just along for the ride; the disgraced, the creators, the rebels, the pioneers. The last four categories are the ones who invest their hearts and souls: the ones with admittedly the most to gain but yet still more to lose. Being an artist is not an occupation for the weak of heart (nor mind, for that matter).

Brad and Victor are musicians and artists in the sense that they completely immerse themselves in their craft: be it a mix, remix, mashup, or their own productions. I've witnessed firsthand the hair-pulling frustration (Brad) along with the breathtaking elation (...Brad) one experiences upon being caught in the throes of passion with not a person, but rather instead an idea. Their wholehearted commitment to whatever musical business they lay their hands on is evident in all the minute details. They manage to cobble tracks together in such a way that they tell a story: mysteriously and effortlessly weaving a web of airy coherence that reflects their passion, hard work, creepily spot-on instinct and indisputable talent (click here for proof).

They can rock your socks off. 
They can make you feel like you're floating on a cloud that's being pulled by unicorns
Unicorns breathing rainbows
And here we are, with me attempting to ask them some thought-provoking questions and getting a whole lot of #realtalk. 
Presenting BVH unfiltered, unhooked and unplugged:

Tell me about the origins of BVH. How did you guys meet?

Victor: We met about three years ago. I was [playing at] a couple clubs here and there, and Brad was doing a couple lounges. Brad was doing a regular night down at Circa on Granville strip, and he shot me a message on Facebook: hey, you wanna come out and play one night? So I opened it for him that night, and after my set he asked if I wanted to stay on and jam. And the next day we got together, shared some ideas, did a couple mashups... Then we entered this DJ contest in Richmond and won that, and afterwards just decided to call ourselves Brad and Victor H.

What makes you guys different from each other? 

Brad: My style was more happy, uplifting stuff while Victor liked the dark progressive stuff. When we started playing together, our styles kind of crossed over, and we ended up having more uplifting breakdowns with that aggressive, driving, dark sound.

Ever have any creative differences?

Victor: (laughs) All the time. Brad might try some new sounds that I'm not really fond of yet. He’s like, its gonna be the shit! And I’ll be like no, this ain't gonna fly. Then... he still goes with it (laughs). I just grow to love it right? It works vice versa too. Sometimes we’re playing a set together, and I’ll drop a track -- he’s like, i hate this track! ...Well too bad, we’re playing it. (laughs)
What kind of music do you listen to on your downtime?

VictorPretty much everything. To be honest, I actually listen to the radio quite a bit when I'm driving. I don’t really listen to dance music all that often just because we hear it all the time.
Brad: Right now, I'm a really big fan of Lana Del Rey. I've been listening to her Born to Die album a lot lately. Also a big fan of Ellie Goulding. I love listening to a lot of chillstep, adventure club-ish stuff, but I've also gotten into that kind of nu poptronica that's really big right now in the UK.

Tell me a little bit about your musical direction for the future. What kind of genre are you leaning towards?

Victor: The good thing is that we go under two different aliases that each represent a different sound. Recently, we’ve developed the branding of BVH which is more of a dubby, chillstep and kind of drumstep, even? That's more experimental. [With BVH] we’re working on some bootlegs and just trying to get our  name out there. We're also branding Brad and Victor H. That one’s more -- how would you say it --
Brad: Trance and progressive.
Victor: Yeah, the more mainstream stuff.
Brad: More standard type stuff. My urge to go out and experiment kinda led to making different types of music. But we didn't really want to put the experimental stuff under the Brad and Victor name, because we've established ourselves as more of a trance and progressive group.
Victor: [Our styles are] pretty much the same now. Just one sound.

How important is versatility as opposed to the importance of having a signature sound?

Brad: Growing your sound and experimenting ends up leading into a signature sound. That’s the most important thing: sounding fresh but not like, “what the fuck?” (laughs). When artists experiment with different genres, they learn new elements they can add to their styles. 
Victor: Basically you don't want to be a slave to one genre. 
Brad: The most interesting type of music these days are the ones that have elements from different genres. Sticking to one element gets boring. [With signature sounds] you kind of fall into that. I think a signature sound is more about the overall feel that the artist gives you.

More so a signature vibe than a sound. 

Brad: Yeah. I think people are under the misconception that a signature sound needs to be an actual sound.

What distinguishes your sound from the others? What's your vibe? 

Brad: Probably just danceable.
Victor: Right. Like everyone else isn't danceable!

Only BVH!

Brad: Stuff we make generally has to – you have to be able to play it on a mainstage. It has to be club-ready. There’s a lot of songs I really like that I would never be able to play at a club, but all our songs need to have that club-ready vibe. 

I remember you wanted to play Taylor Swift at the PNE Coliseum for Dooms Halloween night. WTF?

BVH: (laughing) Yesssss.

Any plans for an album?

Victor: Naw, not at the moment.
Brad: Going back to the signature sound [issue], we don’t really know what that is yet. As artists, we feel like its still really early for us. That's why we’re experimenting with things. We’re not completely sure what we’re gonna do.

Have you guys ever received any criticism? 

Brad: I guess the main thing would be that we still haven’t made anything super distinguishable yet. The closest thing we made that was really fresh and new was our remix of tyDi’s Half Light that got played at ASOT 550. Until this day or whatever, people still say that was the freshest thing they heard at the time. But it didn’t get released until a year and a half later, so the hype with that sound kind of died down and people have already started discovering that type of stuff. The biggest criticism we get is probably like, “oh its cool.. but its not amazing”. We haven’t really made anything that I would call a game changer yet. 

Do you think that's a good thing? How do you take it? Are you just like, “fuck you!” or do you take it to heart? 

Victor: It's encouragement.

What do you guys think of the clubbing-slash-EDM scene in Vancouver? Its changed a lot in the past few years. 

Victor: There's definitely a new generation of party-goers that are being exposed to the whole electronic scene; individuals who probably didn’t even know what dance music was and they're growing into it. 
Brad: It's the new influx of EDM listeners and the level of education they have about the music and the scene. You have so many people that have gotten into the music recently and they don’t really know anything – the music they like is what they heard in the club. And then you have people that are crazy about Avicii and whatever, and – you know – before, music was evolving at a much quicker rate. It was a smaller group of more educated listeners which pushed the producers and DJs to innovate and create something new. Since there's a bigger audience right now you know, there’s no demand for innovation. Its just, “ i wanna hear a big build up, and then i want to hear a vocal drop before the drop, and then the drop needs to hit hard, and then it needs to sound like THIS.” Its just a lot of economics, making money. So when people stop demanding that, then [the scene is] gonna change. But until then, it’s not really going to change at all.

If you guys were to headline somewhere, what would you describe as your dream or perfect show? Production, location, anything like that.

Victor: (laughs) I’ve never really put any thought into that. To be honest, like ever. Lasers! 
Brad: Not too many lasers! We've learned that there can be a thing as too many lasers. (laughs)
Victor: There's really no ideal place. As long as the people  enjoy our music, and appreciate what we’re doing and feel our energy -- ‘cause most of the time when we’re playing, we feed off the crowd’s energy. Really, it doesn't matter where we’re playing: my grandma’s basement for like, 10 friends, or a festival for 20,000 people. As long as people are having a good time, that’s all that matters.

Nowadays when DJs/producers come out, a lot of their careers are  built on how well they work social media, how much they promote themselves. What do you think are the pros and cons of that, with you two being part of these new-era kind of producers?

Victor: Well, because everybody’s doing it, you just kinda get weeded out. If you follow lets say, 50 diff producers [on Facebook], they're all spamming every six hours something new; material just gets watered down, right? We do the same thing too. We promote ourselves through social media, spend hours a week sending out emails to promos, blogs and hopefully getting noticed. It's just kind of hard because everybody else is doing it..
Brad: The thing is: everyone’s doing it, but you can’t NOT do it. Which is kind of troublesome at times, knowing that you have to do it but no one’s probably going to listen to it. But if you don’t, then there's always that odd time that, you know, someone DOES listen to it. And to think that they just don’t listen to your stuff is a complete lie. It's just getting lucky, pretty much (laughs).
Victor: With the amount of money people spend too, I mean [such as] the big producers who are on the top 100. They spend thousands of dollars every month on social media. They have a team of people doing it for them, as opposed to start-up producers who are just grinding on their own, trying to think of new ways to catch attention. So its definitely a lot more difficult when you’re first starting off.

So with all of this social media fuss, do you think being successful now as opposed to before requires you to have different different qualities in order to be noticed?

Victor: For sure. Nowadays, being a successful producer is more than just being able to create great music. You have to have a marketing feature. I guess that's the thing that’s really huge as well too. Some people that, I'm not trying to bash anybody –
Brad: -- You brand yourself, pretty much.

So you kind of have to be as good at marketing yourself as you produce your shit.

Brad: Take the soft drink industry. Coke and Pepsi are here because they started a long time ago. All the other soft drinks are just stems off their company. When have you heard of a new soft drink that’s not part of their company? (laughs) Because they control the market. It’s pretty much the same thing with labels too. If you’re not at the top, if you don’t have a big label backing you... It’s pretty much the same stuff.

Does this change the formula for success? If there is a formula for success, what do you think is important for DJs/producers trying to make it big?

Victor: Be humble and be friends with everyone. Don't make any enemies. (laughs)
Brad: I think they should just focus on making good music and learning the craft, the engineering. Worry less about taking selfies and you know, trying to act like you’re big stuff when you don’t even know how to make a single good track. I'm completely guilty of making the same mistakes too. I've tried to hype myself up when I was young and stupid... I was basically a little shit. So, I think a lot of people could learn from that. If you want to be a producer, then get your production down first, then worry about branding and self-image second.  

A few of their latest remixes you need in your ipods/music arsenals to impress people with your discerning taste:

Tania Zygar & Matt Lange - Dark Paradise (BVH Dubstep Remix) [Lana Del Rey Cover]

Ellie Goulding - Burn (BVH Remix)
BT feat. JES - Every Other Way (BVH Remix)

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