Meeting BUKKY was a refreshing reminder of what a purity in an artist sounds like. Their musical anthology is not a reincarnation of something familiar, or a repeated intention to fit a sound into a bracket of a well-known genre. Music in itself swallows the artist and the listener, conjoining two separate worlds, in its boundlessness of experimentation and the vision for something greater.
BUKKY is a young Nigerian/Irish artist living in London. Upon starting the interview, I was met with an instant easygoing nature projecting from the other side of the screen. My nerves from doing something for the first time have calmed down and the introduction between me and BUKKY turned unfamiliarity into an amicable simplicity.
Location 419 is their debut EP release, addressing intimate and external issues. Each track delivers an eclectic sonic diversity, exploring the boundlessness of creating a different track and offering something unique and unrecognized, making the whole release simultaneously exciting and introspective.
Amongst rising new artists, BUKKY has already managed to put their name out there, having performed in various shows and festivals across and outside of London. BUKKY’s intoxicating love for music, production and words leaves you with an unshaken desire to create and to tread the unexplored territory of the musical sphere. Our conversation kept interchanging between the relationship of music production and lifelong experience of dealing with thoughts and complex emotions.
Firstly I wanted to congratulate you with the release of your first big project, Location 419, and wanted to start off by talking a bit more about it. What would you say is the reason behind the record’s name?
So I got the name Location 419 from my dad. I’m Nigerian but also Irish, where I was raised. My Dad always talks about how Nigeria is a bit of a scam (BUKKY laughs). So that’s where the name of the project originated from, because of the topics I cover in the tracks. Things in life are not what you expect, and much of it does just feel like a massive scam.
That’s interesting because when listening to this project, I picked up on more intimate and introspective issues, rather than political. Would you not say that the tracks cover emotional matters as well? And do you take inspiration for these lyrics out of personal experience, or do they derive from something external?
Yes definitely. I would say my music is very very personal and all the things I do write, I don’t recognize until the end, when I do write it all down, that is how I’ve actually been feeling *change?*. I think sometimes you can’t articulate inside your mind how you are feeling, but by putting it into lyrics, you can see more clearly your feelings and emotions. A lot of my lyrics are just the visualization of the inner dialogues with myself. Like questions I have raised to myself and stuff …
I get that completely. Even though I don’t write music, I do other types of creative writing, and I do find that it really helps to put things into perspective. Would you say writing music helps you deconstruct, in a way, what is on your mind?
Yeah that helps so much. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re feeling and you just think ‘I’m going to write today’ – and then when you start writing, things come out that you weren’t even aware about. Even with a lot of stuff that I write, I start off by writing little paragraphs, little poems that I later put into a song, so yeah definitely.
Would you say this is how you started to write music, through poetry? How did it come about?
I think at the very very start, yeah. I remember when I was really young and my brother had this journal and in there he would write poetry and songs, and I used to be quite intrigued by it, so I was like ‘I want to do that as well!’. So I got my own journal because I wanted to do what he does. That’s how it started – I just wanted to write. I also remember growing up and paying very close attention to the music and the structures, to the ‘fade-ins’, ‘fade-out’, as well as the overall production was very interesting to me. I think the combination of writing, fascination with music and the close interest in the production/creation of music greatly contributed to where I am at this moment.
So where did this journey start? Did you go into a music school or did it spark off as a hobby?
So I moved to London in 2019, I went to BIMM in Fulham. Studied there for 3 years, although 2 of those were spent in Covid. So that was kind of shit (BUKKY laughs). The thing is I wasn’t going there with a thought of “Oh this is going to make me an artist”. I just took every opportunity outside of uni, I knew this is what is going to matter, rather than the connections inside uni. I feel like all of the time people rely on that to get into music. So yeah I just went with any gig opportunity I had in London.
Are you the sole producer and creator of your music projects, or is there someone by you, who has helped you throughout?
Yeah, most of the things you hear I produce myself … I am trying to get better at co-producing but (BUKKY takes a long pause) I just like having a heavy hand in the stuff I make. I don’t know … I feel like it’s only me who can understand, even I myself, sometimes can’t describe what I want to create or what I want the things to sound like. I just have to sort of put my hands in it and see what comes out of it.
That’s very cool! That is very impressive to go from a clean slate to a full EP, all by yourself. This made me think of this question I had – how do you know when something is ‘final’? When do you know to stop working on something?
(BUKKY laughs) That’s where my problem is honestly. I feel like I have a hard time knowing when to stop, when to finish something. That is also one of the reasons why it took me so long to finish this project. I think all musicians or creators are in a sense perfectionists. We want things to sound exactly the way we want them and we just want to represent us and what we make in the best way. But I think I am still working on that – when to allow something to be and leave it without overcomplicating it.
And which song would you say feels ‘complete’ to you?
Oh my days! Oh my days! (BUKKY repeats laughing) Ummm …. I think I’m really happy with ‘April’. Mainly because of this song’s production, I am just really really proud of it. I had a lot of fun making this song as well. But I think I like all of them in their own ways, each song taught me something different. In general, I am just very proud of this project. This is the first time I put something out that I want. Because I felt like this the whole time before I released music, I had other songs which were out, and when someone would ask me to generalize my style, or ask to describe me in one song – I would have no idea what to show which would be an actual representation of me. With this project I can finally be like “This is me!”, without having to over-explain myself.
Is there a specific genre, or structure you would want yourself to fall under? Or do you feel like there’s freedom in not belonging to any category?
Yeah absolutely! I never wanted to be stuck in any box or any specific genre. I also listen to a lot of different types of music, I don’t think I could ever restrict myself to one thing. I would get very bored if I was restricting my music to one specific genre.
I agree, I also think that it improves the way you approach music in general. If you do not confine or limit yourself, your creative abilities are boundless, and your production can take inspiration from any music genre. Is there a song that you found the most challenging to produce?
Ummm, definitely ‘SWEAT’, I’d say because of the drums …. I wanted them to sound in a very specific way. I had a few reference tracks, one of them is a song from the band SAULT, which has really inspired the creation of ‘SWEAT’. I found it so hard to get it right and compared to others, I think it was definitely the hardest song to finish. It took quite a long time to make it sound the way I envisioned it – definitely took a ‘sec’ (BUKKY laughs).
So when you first started creating music, did you have an artist, or a band that you looked up to, or saw as guidance in a way?
Not too sure, you know. I think I definitely have a few artists which I look up to, but I would say it changes seasonally for me, as I get into listening to different things. It’s everchanging and different things inspire me. I also think it’s a good thing that I don’t focus too much on one specific artist, as I give space to be my own self – to be my own artist.
Yeah – I guess that is what it means being unique, isn’t it? When you don’t compare and you do not follow someone else’s steps – it’s just you and your individualism. I have quite a random question I did want to ask. (I laugh as I sit back more comfortably in my chair). What has been your favorite memory since you started creating music?
Oh my days! These are quite wholesome questions! (BUKKY laughs again, taking a prolonged pause) Definitely been quite a few … You know, even though as much as I hate collaborating … I think the times where I’ve been in rehearsal sessions with friends and making live music … has probably been my favorite time. Where there is no pressure of having to record or meet deadlines, just purely making music, for the sake of music. Yeah – that is definitely what is most enjoyable to me.
Yeah for sure! Do you feel like that’s where your creativity flourishes – when there’s no strict guidelines/trajectory or time pressures? Would you say there’s a better chance of producing a stronger project, if it stems from a more natural creative space?
Yeah absolutely! Because it can literally go anywhere and you’re not confining yourself to anything. On top of that, it leaves a lot of room for experimenting and there’s more chance you can come up with something completely original. Especially when you’re recording with people you feel comfortable with in a laid back environment, you can actually try stuff out and experiment with new sounds. I really enjoy experimenting with my vocals and manipulation of my voice.
Is there any sort of music you don’t listen to or the least fan of?
Ah, I don’t know, to be honest. There’s quite a lot I do like, even when it comes to heavy metal, I do have some metal tracks in my playlist, here and there. Wouldn’t say it’s my ‘go to’ all the time, but I do take inspo from their style of drumming. I also grew up on a lot of country music, so I can’t even say I dislike that. My dad at a young age exposed me to a lot of types of music.
Would you agree that being exposed to a variety of music genres broadens your mind and your perspective on things?
For sure! It makes you think a lot more of what you can create and take inspiration from. I can extract this from here or that from there, regardless of what music genre it is or what decade.
Words: Anastasia Bolshova // Photos: George McGuinness-Robson
‘Location 419’ is out now via Salt on a Slug. Stream or purchase the EP here.