After releasing the luscious offerings of his Returned Alone & LUV EPs, Brisbane’s UV boi فوق بنفسجي is on the cusp of big things with his forthcoming debut album. We caught up with the dynamic artist ahead of his set at Red Bull Music’s Thursday night pre-party A Night With, at Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass festival to talk about career development, the forthcoming debut album, fearless artistry and finding his own voice.
Kyle: Hi Emmanuel
UV boi: Hi Kyle how are you?
Yeah, good thanks. How are you and what are you up to?
I’m doing good, I’m at the Red Bull Music House and just finished all of our workshops so I’ve got some downtime.
Sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate, what workshops have you been busy with?
We got here on Monday and we started with digital marketing and things like that. Tuesday was about media training so I learnt some things that I’m gonna try and apply today in this interview. Then we had a pimp my rider thing and today was about stage production, breathing exercises and working out how to get off stage and clear your mind and everything, it’s been really awesome.
Have you been learning things you can apply in your everyday life?
Yeah, it’s definitely been helpful to have people who know so much, teach us here on site. It means we’re gonna be able to apply it straight away…I’m gonna try and apply it today.
What are your new media training tricks that you’re gonna work on me today?
I suppose, having a clear idea of what you’re trying to say…about your story and being able to choose (between) what you’re trying to say and what you’re not trying to say. Yeah, so small things like that, and some other techniques and how to get out of uncomfortable questions…But I’m sure you’re not gonna ask me anything too crazy.
Haha, I’ll try to keep it PG…I guess it’s cool to learn the best way to steer your own ship. It’s easy for an interviewer to lead things and like steer the direction, but ultimately it’s about you and that’s what we wanna learn about…so for you to have that clear idea will just help get more of yourself on paper.
Yeah, it’s been a little while since I’ve last done an interview.
Well, let’s get into it…How do you feel about Splendour in the Grass yet again?
Yeah, it’s gonna be my third year and it’s always a surprise that I’m back at Splendour in the Grass, it’s a trip! It’s been a really awesome festival and I still see fans around every now and then when I’m either in Brisbane or other cities and they’re like: “Hey I remember your sets from 2016 and 2015 and it was so great!” and I’m like woah, it’s really crazy that Splendour creates that memory with them and the artists that are there create that memory with them that sticks around with them. So I’m really happy to be back to do it for another year.
Do you ever feel like a veteran or do you ever get tired of it?
No..Haha no never because every single time I’ve come and performed at Splendour I’ve introduced something new or it’s been a new show, so it’s always like a reset and it’s invigorating and people get to experience something different. So again this year it’s gonna be slightly different coz I’ve worked on a bunch of music and it sounds a bit different to what I used to make so it’s gonna be a different experience, it’s time to test it out.
Can you give us any hint about what’s different about your performance this year?
Well in the past year I’ve been writing a new record which we’ll speak more about soon. I’ve done a lot more songwriting and vocal work, so that’s gonna take more of the focus in this Splendour set..I’m gonna play a couple of new things that people haven’t heard and a couple of tracks from my last EP (Returned Alone) which featured a bit of vocal work.
Are you talking about your vocals specifically as opposed to feature vocalists?
Yeah, so on this new record my vocals are the main focus and then there are also a few feature acts.
I’m so excited to hear that just because the tracks I’ve heard with your vocals already are amazing.
I think it’s really important when we get to hear your ideas first hand…in your own melody, in your own timbre and in your own voice…Is that something we’re gonna see more of in future?
Yes, definitely. I think because the music that I’ve been writing so far…it’s coming from places that are very personal and having your own voice and your own songwriting to express that…it does express exactly how you feel and hopefully people will be able to feel that and connect with it as well. Rather than having someone else sing what you’re trying to express.
That must be the blessing and the curse of collaboration…on one hand you get to express things you may not be able to on your own but on the flip side when it’s just you, you get full ownership of how it’s expressed. They’re two very different things, do you prefer either process?
Lucky for me the people I’ve collaborated with so far have been really close friends and people that I trust and people whose music I adore. So I would tend to chat to them (through the process) and somehow find we’re connected in the exact same way in what we were trying to say. It was easy to work with them… so I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who are like-minded and we knew exactly what we wanted and we created the exact thing that we wanted to create. So I’ve been really lucky on that end.
So what can we expect the new album?
So the process of writing this album compared to what I’ve written in the past has changed because now I have a band with me.
Oh, that’s new!
Yeah, so the music is taking on a different sound but it’s still keeping the core elements that I’ve honed in the past couple of years. I spent some time earlier this year and last year getting the blueprints out for this record and producing the music and having something solid there and now it’s me and my band going back and replacing instruments with proper guitars and rhodes and keys and my drummer is also playing a couple of things and my bass player, so yeah. I mean, I began from this electronic world but I’ve always wanted to gravitate to more of an organic sound, so this is the transition I’m hoping to make on this album.
Awesome I’m very excited to hear it, I mean your electronic work is so captivating so I have no doubt the new work will be equally engaging as well.
I’ve read that you enjoy a palette of some hard hitting sounds alongside a melodic element. Those two components working together, is that something that you’ll be harnessing with the live instrumentation, and if so how would you describe its sound?
Yeah so I really did wanna keep that element of the oomph that I had in my previous songs, but also introduce that melody and with the band now they’re gonna elevate that melodic element. But I’m still taking charge of the whole production so it’s still gonna have its kicks and everything and the regular UV 808 that you recognise and the soul basis and everything, that’s definitely gonna be there. Each song is gonna sound different in terms of the style and genre but there are definitely gonna be the core elements that will hold the album together.
Do you have a release date yet?
Nothing yet, I think my manager wanted me to have everything finished before we set any dates. It was meant to be finished a bit earlier this year but I really didn’t want to rush it….not just because it’s my first album but this album really does mean a lot to me. I’m diving into things and speaking about being vulnerable and what the past 4 years have been and the experiences that I’ve had that have been great, as well as the down times. I wanted to make sure I had all the right messages there. I am aiming to have this finished by the end of August, maybe September…Right now we’re really really close, like its 80% done and it’s just that last 20% and trying to fine tune it and not knowing when to let go. I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to be like ok this is it! But definitely, it’ll be out before the end of the year.
You mentioned being pretty vulnerable in this new work, how much of yourself do you put into your music?
I’ve drawn from a lot of the feelings that I’ve had. Feelings of finding someone and being heartbroken and also breaking someone’s heart and also feeling as if you’ve lost your purpose or you’re not sure which direction to go. Just simple things that you experience in life…or things that I’ve experienced that maybe other people haven’t experienced but hopefully other people can relate to.
In music, is there anything you’re really feeling at the moment? What music inspires you right now?
Before writing this record I did take some time to listen to a bunch of different things….to have something new to try. In the past couple of months I’ve been listening to a lot of Kimbra, and James Blake has been a big classic to me, and Two Door Cinema Club has been really awesome too. So between those examples, it does show which direction this album is gonna go towards. It’s gonna sound a lot different to what I have created but it’ll still sound like me. Haha.
I think it takes huge courage to take leaps with your work and make big changes with your work especially when it has been so well received in the past. It’s important that you’re true to your artistic vision, that’s integral to being a great artist. I feel like the music scene in Australia across genres is thriving at the moment, do you feel that way?… Are you based in Brisbane, and is there a thriving scene there?
I’m still in Brisbane, but in terms of artists in Australia that are creating some really amazing things there’s Cosmo’s Midnight who just released a new album, my friend Darcy Baylis who creates some really amazing music, Kllo released an album last year and also Nasty Mars and Baro, so there’s so much talent coming from Australia…it seems like Australia is gonna take over the world at some point. Haha.
If it hasn’t already!
If it hasn’t already.
Thanks so much for your time, Have an incredible show at Splendour!
I’ll take some vids for you.
Set up a webcam and I’ll be living!
UV boi فوق بنفسجي @uvboi
Interview by Black Tree @blacktreemusic
Photography by Ken Leanfore @kenleanfore