- Wed, 2007-01-24 12:20
J-Rock, Randy, Cherise and Nadia return as Big Brovaz, back with their greatly anticipated sophomore album Re-entry. Big Brovaz is a homegrown UK hip-hop outfit with a proven track record for chart success.
Starting out 8 years ago, their ride to fame has been littered with ups and downs. With a flying start they signed to Sony Records in 2002, and went on to light up the pop world, shooting straight to the top of the charts with their debut hit Nu Flow.
More success followed with hit single after hit single; Favourite Things, Baby Boy, before they released their much anticipated album Nu Flow which hit the number one spot in the album charts and went on to reach platinum selling success. Enjoying critical acclaim, the band went on to win 2 Mobo’s plus Smash Hits, Capital Radio and Disney awards.
The bubble however, was soon to break for Big Brovaz when devastatingly Flawless was caught with marijuana in the USA. Suddenly the future of Big Brovaz looked ominous and a spilt with Sony followed quickly. Various solo projects were embarked upon with Big Brovaz continually seeking to evolve and develop their skills.
Originally as six, the band is now four. Flawless and Dion have gone on to pursue their own goals whilst Cherise and Nadia are back, hot from their 2006 massive dance floor hit, Boogie2nite. The boys have also benefited from this fluid approach to music and life; in their spare time J-Rock made a movie with US actress Michelle Phieffer and Randy worked on an exclusive soundtrack for the UK film Breaking the Cycle.
Reforming to independently produce their own work and material, the band are now happy that they have regained creative control. The new album, ‘Re-Entry’ defines Big Brovaz, including the individual beats, lyrics, clothing, imagery and style. Their new material is the freshest and truest representation of Big Brovaz and portrays them as the serious and talented group of musicians they are.
I Like Music caught up with Randy from Big Brovaz [pictured bottom right] to talk about their new single and album (out in March 2007), performing on the same stage as Robbie and Mariah, and how to ‘break the cycle’.
ILM: You’re back with your new album Re-entry, with first single from it Big Bro Thang’ out in March. Can you give us your own personal description of the track and its whole vibe?
Randy: The track is really just us reintroducing ourselves to the public. It’s still the theatrical theme on Nu Flow and our other singles, but it’s just taken a natural progression. This time we’ve actually incorporated a bit of rock into this song. So it’s a bit rocky and a bit edgy so I hope the public like it, as it’s very different to the stuff that we usually do.
ILM: And, of all the tracks on Re-entry, which one did you have the most fun laying down?
Randy: On the Re-entry album, there’s a song called Get You On The Floor which was produced by Da Vinci It was a lot of fun because I was a fan of Da Vinci’s long before doing the song, so it was a lot of fun being in the studio and doing that song and that’s one of my favourite songs as well actually.
ILM: And you must learn a lot from each other?
Randy: Yeah, it’s a great thing, especially when it’s a producer that you respect and like.
ILM: You’re involved with production too. What piece of hardware and software could you not live without?
Randy: A Mac G5. Every studio and every producer needs one of those man. As an artist as well, you need to know your way around, because you never know when you might have to do your own production or put down your own idea, so it’s good to know your way around a G5.
ILM: You’ve been signed to Sony, done your own thing and signed to a smaller label since, giving you more freedom. You’ve no doubt learned a lot about the industry. What’s your advice for budding songwriters and music makers about getting the right deal etc?
Randy: It all depends what they want out of the game. If they want the fame, I’d suggest they go for a major deal with one of the big majors. It they want the money it takes a lot more hard work and they need to be on an independent label, and not be as big as you would be on a major, but you’ll be a lot better of financially as independent labels give you a better deal. It’s all about the artist and what they want out of the business.
ILM: Can you please describe the Big Brovaz process of making good uk hip hop music please?
Randy: For us it was easy because we’ve got a formula, and when you’ve got a formula it’s much easier. Our formula was, we’d all think of the chorus and then the girls sing it and then we just take a part of the verse each and then express ourselves on that side of the verse, you get me? Depending on what the song is about we all put down our different side of the track on there. So it’s easy for us, because we’ve got a formula, but if you ain’t got a formula, you have to go in there and think who’s going to do the chorus? Who’s going to do the first verse? So it’s more difficult if you haven’t got a formula.
The melody comes first, usually we’re mumbling what we’re going to say and record it on a Dictaphone and then put the words in after. So, it’s the melody that comes first, and then we fill in the blanks afterwards
ILM: So you all get a flavour of your personalities on each track doing it that way?
Randy: Yeah, definitely. Also we help each other on the rapping, and we always help the girls with the lyrics for the singing and what words we want for the chorus, so it’s basically filling in the blanks and we all help with that.
ILM: You must be like a family now?
Randy: Yeah, it’s like a family business now. We’ve known each other for seven years now and that’s a long time to be working in any group. It’s good.
ILM: Flawless and Dion left the band, what’s your advice to young people about relationships and finding the right mix of friendships?
Randy: You just have to compromise innit. Friendship is about give and take. So that’s how we’ve survived all this time. I can’t tell you that we’ve never had a hard time which nearly broke us up as a group, but we just have to forgive and naturally forgive in your heart things that have been said and done in order to move on. You can’t hold grudges if you want to maintain a group as we have. I guess that’s why Take That or groups like that are able to get back together, because no-one has held a grudge or too mad about a situation, and that’s the way I think we are as well, just very open to forgiving people.
ILM: And it must make you stronger as a team, taking the rough with the smooth?
Randy: Yeah definitely. We’ve shared a dream together, so you can’t be too mad at someone for too long once you’ve been through as much as we’ve been through together, so that’s why it’s easier for us to get back to where we were again.
ILM: You’ve won 2 MOBOs. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Randy: There’s the Party in the Park which was performing in front of 100,000 and we got to meet the Prince afterwards, that stands out in my mind as amazing. We did the TMF awards in Europe somewhere, that award show was amazing. It was like the Grammy’s or something, with Mariah Carey and Robbie Williams were there, a lot of big artists were there. And we were on the same stage with all those artists there and it really felt good. That was the time that we were at the top of our game and it really felt good, and also when we went to Australia and we were doing an instore HMV signing yeah, and there were so many people out there and I thought it would just be a few people, but the queue was outside and onto the street and in the lobby there must have been more than 5000-10,000 people at the signing. And they said that we had a bigger in store signing than Kelly Rowland had from Destiny’s Child, so it really felt good.
ILM: Especially when you’re not expecting it?
Randy: Yeah. We didn’t know anyone even knew us in Australia, so when we saw so many people out there it was amazing, a real shock. That stands out in my brain as one of the best times.
ILM: Cherise and Nadia did the vocals on the huge 2006 Boogie2nite hit. Must’ve been nice to do something a bit different?
Randy: I think they’re going to be doing some more of that kind of stuff in the future too actually. Big Brovaz in the beginning, we weren’t as rigid as we are now, y’know; there’s four faces and they’re doing this. When we started out, Big Brovaz was a collective of artists that work together and I think that’s the formula we’re going to go back to, so we’re going to bring in developing artists and other artists in the game as well, in to our fold. Because, we want to live up to our name, Big Brovaz, and bring people in and develop artists and bring them up, so we’re going to go back to that formula this year, after this album. Because, this album is to re-establish us in the game. And then we’re going to go back to what the Big Brovaz name was all about in the beginning, so I look forward to that, definitely.
So we’re going to spread our wings basically. The girls are going to be doing some more dance stuff and we’re going to be doing some more RnB stuff, with some more singers and some different artists, so look out for that in the future, definitely.
ILM: And you worked on an exclusive soundtrack for the UK film ‘Breaking the Cycle’. Tell us about that whole process?
Randy: That movie was an East London movie about inner city crime. It’s about this guy who comes out of jail and goes back into the same cycle of drug dealing and violence that got him sent to jail in the first place. And it’s really about how do you get out of that cycle? How do you break that cycle of going into jail, coming out, you’re friends are leading you back into the same thing again, it’s about breaking that cycle. We had the opportunity to also do the soundtrack, so we brought in a lot of artists from the underground and the grime scene. We were executive producing the soundtrack which gave us an ear to the street. Everyone wanted to get involved in the project and we didn’t know we had so much love on the underground circuit, as well as the mainstream. The underground people respect us for what we’ve done so far. So it was good to see that the love was still there in the underground definitely.
ILM: And it must have been fun to bring in other artists as well?
Randy: Yeah, and they’re artists that we like as well, but I don’t think they’re promoted properly. Artists like Sway and Lethal B, they could be bigger than they are, because right now there isn’t any kind of hip hop or urban scene, it’s all bands or American, so there’s an opportunity for some good artists to make an impact in the market right now. So it was good to work with some artists like that, and also show them what we’ve learned in the game. It’s not just about Channel U and underground, it’s about trying to get to MTV and be major It was good to trade stories with people.
ILM: Re-Entry has a theatrical feel to it and yet contains strong and meaningful lyrics, about life, the streets and relationships .About that and the notion of ‘breaking the cycle’ - if you’re hanging around on the streets up to no good but want to get away from that, what’s your advice for teenagers on making the right choices in life?
Randy: All of this stuff that’s going on in the city today is down to peer pressure. Every one wants to be like someone else, rather than being themselves. I don’t think anyone wants to be out there, it’s just that’s what all their friends are doing. If their friends started doing positive things, then everyone would be doing positive things. So it’s just about being yourself.
Be a leader and not a follower! When you’re following people, they can lead you anywhere; they can lead you down the wrong path. Everyone parent knows, there’s that one kid that your kid hangs round with that you know is a bad influence on them, and that’s always the kid they choose to follow because they’ve got some phony respect on the streets. To break out of the cycle of violence and stuff you just have to be yourself and do the right thing, because everyone knows what the right thing to do is. So basically, just follow your heart.
Everyone has their own internal dream of what they want to do, but sometimes, when you’re with your friends, you can’t really express yourself, because they might think you’re weak or you don’t want to do this, and they might break your dream. So a lot of kids don’t tell their friends what they want to do and just sit in the corner and do what they’re told. I think the best thing to do is to follow your dream, because everyone’s got one inside, so just follow it.
ILM: What did you do when you left school? Were you always into music?
Randy: I had some other jobs but I always knew that I wanted to get in to music. I lost a couple of jobs for music. I used to work for a repographics company, and I got into trouble at work one time, I had a very important…photocopying and stuff, and there was a big job came in and he said make sure everybody is here tomorrow on time bright and early. But I told him I had an audition at Sony Records, and he said he didn’t care about that and to make sure I was there. I had to go to the audition, because that’s Sony Records and you don’t know when you’re going to get an audition at Sony again, so I went to the audition and when I went back to work, he fired me! I lost a job over music, even though it wasn’t a guaranteed job, it was just an audition so the record company can get to see you, I still took that over a steady job. You have to make sacrifices and do what you have to do to get in the game.
ILM: Well it’s paid off. You can go back to that place and order some photocopying from the guy who fired you.
Randy: Yeah, I’ll say remember me? Look at me now. I guess they’ll have seen me on TV now and they’ll say, ‘oh that’s what he was doing, then. Something good came from it.’
ILM: Hopefully he’ll be more generous with giving time off now.
Randy: Yeah, stop being so stuck up, man.
[ILM & Randy laugh.]
The man from the repro house and anyone else who likes to boogie, should check out Big Brovaz new single, Big Bro Thang, released March 5th 2007 and fresh new album, Re-Entry, out on Genetic Records on March 26th 2007.