Producer Gawvi says move to become a pop artist is “Best decision I’ve ever made [musically]”
Roughly ten minutes into a rawkus performance for NGEN Radio’s “Power the Tower” concert in Houston, Texas, Gawvi stopped the party and decided to create an original beat on the spot.
After a quick roll call of fans from various Latin backgrounds, the producer grabbed the mic and recorded himself reciting the phrase “H-town, that’s how we get down.” The audio was slowed to a low, bass-heavy crawl and then run through a drum machine where the sample was roughly cut and replayed in a stutter-step fashion.
The stage trick was a nod to the “chopped and screwed” scene – a specific style of hip hop strongly aligned with the city where this particular event originated.
In a backstage interview later that night, Gawvi explained the stunt allowed him to express a key element of his overall identity as a recording artist.
“I want to make sure people know when they hear my music: One, right off the bat, I love Jesus. Two, I love my wife – so there’s a lot of love stories. And then three, I love culture. So sonically, you’re going to hear a lot of different instruments and rhythms. Sometimes you might hear Spanish songs, sometimes you might hear a Jamaican on my album. It’s all about different vibes,” Gawvi said.
Attempts like the on-demand chopped and screwed beat can occasionally yield a wild and unexpected success. And every now and then, like this night in Houston, they can actually fall flat despite the author’s best intentions.
Either way Gawvi believes there is reward in the risk – especially now that he’s shifted his career from “behind” to “in front of” the proverbial curtain.
“Here’s the thing, when you’re in the studio producing all the time you don’t really get to see any of the crowd’s reaction. So now, going to the concerts, I get to know what works and what doesn’t work,” Gawvi said.
“I can drop a beat and if I see the crowd going crazy I’ll be like ‘Okay, that’s what’s up.’ And sometimes I can drop a different beat and they’re just like ‘Huh’ and I’ll be like ‘I’m not doing that again!”
That transition, from producer to performer, is still a recently fresh one for Gawvi. Although he joined Reach Records in 2013, he wasn’t officially a roster recording artist until January of 2016.
Gawvi said he was burned out on producing hip hop and started experimenting with dance pop. Label co-owner and flagship artist Lecrae heard his work and encouraged him to pursue that direction.
“It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made – as far as music. Just becoming an artist, there’s so much free will. I’m able to produce whatever I want. It’s really exciting for me,” Gawvi said.
His first solo effort was Lost in Hue, a four-track EP that landed the #2 spot on Billboard’s EDM charts the week after its release. The project was accompanied by a music video for “Late Nights” that was chock-full of metaphorical imagery and was followed by Holding Hue on September 9 – another EP with a quartet of songs that veer into similar territory.
Gawvi is tight lipped as to whether or not Holding Hue is the second in a planned three- or four-part series (with a possible RGB or CMYK theme?), but he did cop to working on a full album for later this year.
So far, none of the Hue songs feature Reach Records rappers, but Gawvi seemed to indicate fans won’t have to wait much longer to hear such collaborations.
“Right now, since they’re just EPs I really want to get people’s ears whet with who I am,” Gawvi said.
“But I’m definitely going to use the ‘Lecrae Pass’ soon.”
It would be foolish for a fellow artist not to, right?