15 January 2014

Interview: JDVBBS

Twon Jonson recently hipped the crew to a young cat from NoVa (Northern Virginia), who is on the warpath toward stardom. Ra’z Al Ghoul recently chopped it up with the extremely versatile rapper/singer JDVBBS (and NO, don’t think Drake) about his views on today’s music scene and his approach to his craft. Peep the interview and the links below

Best In The Mix: What do you classify yourself/your music as? Also, what is your stage name?

JDVBBS: My sound is "definitely married to hip-hop but sleeps around with other genres," quoting a girl I sat next to on a megabus recently. My stage name is JDVBBS. (You say the whole thing…like A Tribe Called Quest or A Pimp Named Slickback)

BITM: Haha! That’s original…so you have a promiscuous sound. How long have you been making music?

JDVBBS: For as long as I can remember. I started playing piano at age eight, singing at age 11, wrote my first 16 (bars) when I was 15 or 16.

BITM: Okay, so since you were a youngin'. Where are you from?

JDVBBS: I was born in Chicago, but we moved around a lot until about the age of two where we settled in Northern VA, which is where I was raised.

BITM: Ok, midwest to the East Coast. Who and/or what inspires you?

JDVBBS: My biggest inspiration is my family. To see my mom blowing up everyone's Facebook feed or my older brother giving me that heavy-handed dap is more comforting than most kudos. I wanna make them proud.

BITM: So you're heavily family oriented; that’s a really good look. It’s good to have a backbone in the form of family. Who is your favorite artist?

JDVBBS: Of all time? Probably a tie between MJ, Prince and Stevie Wonder. The way that they know their records inside and out gives them this innate ability to connect with their audiences. I saw Stevie play a few months ago, it was unreal.

BITM: Definitely an old soul. Of those three my favorite is Stevie Wonder. What is your favorite type of music?

JDVBBS: Hip-hop dominates my playlists more often than not but I'm a sucker for well-calculated singer-songwriter types (Sara Bareilles, Jason Mraz) and ethereal celestial shit like a spacey Ellie Goulding or The Weeknd. 

BITM: Hip-hop rules mine as well. I try to get out of that habit and incorporate more music in my life but I just love Hip-hop and rap. Speaking of other genres, how do you feel about the current state of today's music?

JDVBBS: Under-appreciated, by both the listener and the artists. Listeners complain that their favorite genres are lacking like there aren't 100 more artists with readily available music. Artists have the Madden complex (especially commercial friendly hip-hop artists): why strive to make the music better when we're gonna get paid the same? "Long as the outcome is income..."

BITM: Yeah, a lot of fans and artists are either fickle, lazy or a combination of both. I say the same thing to a lot of people who talk down on the genre. What is a song that motivates you to do anything (work out, get up in the morning, or gets you through the day)?

JDVBBS: Old Motown and soul records make me wanna be better at my craft. I sing along to an isolated vocal track of Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through The Grapevine." I work toward my voice being as captivating as his is.

BITM: That was definitely a curve ball. I thought it was going to be a hip-hop track. What do you think you could contribute to the genre of music that you classify it as (follow up to question 1)?

JDVBBS: I plan on contributing to as many genres as I can. I wrote 'War Paint' as a means to blur the genre lines because I don't want to get typecasted. A funky guitar lick, 4 on the floor electro-synth line, halftime rap/track breakdown that gets built up by a melodic vocal round and a funky bassline. I tried to cover as many bases without covering the issue so the song wouldn't get put in a box or limit my talents.

BITM: So you're aiming to be versatile, possibly a la how Drake is, I see. What mixtapes and or projects do you have that are available?

JDVBBS: At the moment I'm phasing out most other endeavors and just focusing on me as an artist so all my old features/dj mixes/covers have been taken down on purpose. I recently released a more hip-hop oriented track, 'Just A Rapper...?' which can be found on my Soundcloud along with War Paint.

BITM: What are your ultimate goals with your music?

JDVBBS: I don't want to be limited in this music business at all. If I can be on an episode of Glee and in the BET cyphers in the same week, let's do it. If I could score the next James Cameron movie while working on a 16 for Detox then let's do it. If I was commissioned to write music for a Broadway show, let's do it. Pharrell was featured on two of the biggest hits of the year, wrote themes for 'Despicable Me 2' and co-wrote a song with my boys in RDGLDGRN all in the same year. Why can't I?

BITM: I feel you on that. If you have multiple talents you might as well shoot for the stars and succeed entirely. A lot of people don't explore other possibilities on different platforms or are even willing to venture off to test it. What was your favorite music project of 2013?

JDVBBS: It's a three-way tie between Janelle Monae's The Electric Lady, Haim's Days Are Gone and Pusha T's My Name is My Name. The nature of all those albums makes a person a fool if they try to compare them.

BITM: I have that but I still haven't listened to it! I'm so upset with myself for not listening to that. What is the most stressful thing you consistently find yourself going through at this stage while trying to make music (for example: studio time or conflicting schedules)?

JDVBBS: I really DON'T want to sound like other artists when I'm making music. I DJ a lot and I play piano and sing with wedding bands sometimes and they want you to sound EXACTLY like other artists. So when I'm creating it's hard to turn that part of me off. I work at a music studio so the logistics aren't nearly as stressful as the artistry can be sometimes.

BITM: That's coming back to versatility and how you can incorporate your own style to set yourself aside from other artists. Have you opened or performed anywhere? If so, what were your first thoughts before and after performing? Also what was the crowd’s reaction like?

JDVBBS: My most recent gig was at a hip-hop open mic just a couple weeks ago. I was on the bill for a showcase that gave me five minutes to do my thing and I carefully calculated that five minutes to show off what I could do. I tend to over analyze both before and after I'm done performing, I think the technical term for it is called A3S (Andre 3000 Syndrome). However, they also have a freestyle section and there was really only time for three of us to go. Because there's so much doing and less thinking involved I always tend to be happier with an unprepared performance than a prepared one. The crowd rocked with both which is my main goal at all times. Get the win because the W is a W, sloppy performance or not. You can always go back and watch the game tape and get better.

BITM: Nothing wrong with wanting to perfect your craft, at least that's the way I see it. It just comes down to your perception of your product but that is your own battle. Everyone should want to do better, I respect that. Word to www.DoBetterMovement.org. Is there anything that we should be looking for from you in the year 2014?

JDVBBS: A LOT, if everything goes according to plan.  The album release show is January 18th at Jammin' Java in Vienna, VA.  The debut album comes out in one week, January 21st, but I've got a crazy amount of ideas running through my head so I'm hoping to put out two or three more projects before the year is out.

BITM: Well, we’re definitely looking forward to hearing more from you and wish you the best in 2014 and beyond! Keep doing great things and boosting up that original sound.

BITM readers and JDVBBS fans make sure you are on the lookout for the album release. JDVBBS can be heard on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/jdvbbs and you can follow him at www.twitter.com/jdvbbs. He’s also got his own website, where you can receive more information about his current and future projects: www.jdvbbs.com!

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