BIJOU Talks Finding His Sound & New Night Bass Release, ‘187 Proof’ EP [INTERVIEW]

BIJOU makes his epic return to Night Bass with an explosive 3-track EP.

As a leader in the G-House movement, BIJOU has truly mastered his art, but he continues to push it forward — exemplified here by the sounds of 187 Proof EP. With every release, the producer consistently fuses his passion and appreciation for house and hip hop, and he expands once again.

Opener “Big Racks” is led by Buffalo rapper Elcamino, who commands the track in seemingly effortless fashion, as BIJOU’s production rides a signature trap melody before dropping into a menacing house groove. The producer’s work has become an outlet for championing underground talent like this, which he expands on in our exclusive interview with him below.

The second offering, “Zodiac” digs even deeper into that brooding energy, tapping vocal stylings of Sacramento rapper J. Sirus. BIJOU accents a gritty production with subtle risers and synth hits that build momentum throughout. The track dips into an atmospheric break before coming back for another round.

Closing out the EP, “Liquid Swords” switches up the disposition with Wu-Tang-inspired theatrics and a killer lead synth. Having kept this secret weapon on the down low for years, the production finally sees the light of day as an instant banger that screams Night Bass supreme.

Listen here, and check out our interview with BIJOU below. He discusses staying busy through quarantine, early inspirations, finding his distinct sound, and all things 187 Proof EP. Plus, what a BIJOU-run fest might sound like and if we’ll hear him spitting verses on future tracks. (Yes, please!)

BIJOU – 187 Proof EP

Stream/download: nightbass.ffm.to/187proof

First up, what has quarantine been like for you? What have you been up to?

I’ve actually been busier than I was before quarantine because I started a teaching academy called Homework Academy and we’ve taken on over 120 students at this point. So it’s all teaching production, been busy with that — so that’s a whole thing in itself. Then, I’ve been really dabbing into the workout stuff, because I was already into that before. And then, I’ve just been making a ton of music and really trying to dial in specifically on this, I wouldn’t say different style of g-house, but it’s a little bit different than what I was doing before — just expand on my sound more than I previously was.

Tell me about when you started the EP and how it came to be…

It’s funny, so “Liquid Swords,” the third track on it actually is almost two years old. I’m a HUGE Wu-Tang fan — I love East Coast rap, which also kinda touches on the Elcamino feature we’ll get into. And if you know anything about Wu-Tang, “Liquid Swords” was actually the name of the GZA’s album and they would sample a lot of stuff from old movies. There was a track in there where it had the sample, right — and I was like, well I don’t really want to sample Wu-Tang — so I literally found the actual movie it came from, then got a second sample. So there’s two different samples from Wu-Tang movies that are in that track.

Something I always like to do with EPs is have a diverse range of my sound in the EP itself. I don’t want every track to be the exact same. And I think as a producer overall that’s important. That moves into the Elcamino feature and I was just a fan to begin with. He’s heavy with the Griselda crew out of Buffalo, which to me in a sense — yeah, West Coast is my roots, but my dad is from upstate New York, an hour outside Buffalo. To me, it’s like going back to my roots, where I really came from. Without my dad, I wouldn’t be here. So, that’s been fun for sure.

Can you discuss some of your earliest influences in hip hop, and if you remember some memories around that time?

My earliest influences were definitely West Coast. I can literally remember the first time I was introduced to hip hop — I was in the little town of Globe, Arizona where my mom is from, at my aunt’s house. My cousins are all older than me, it was her side of the family — and my older cousins were like, “Hey check this guy out! This is rap music! This is Tupac! But don’t tell your mom about this.” And they showed me Tupac when I was like 5 years old.

I grew up on reggae and rock n roll because my dad was in the music business. From there, it kind of expanded because I’m the type of person where if I find one thing and I love it, I will dive into that and I’ll research every single little piece of it. Like an obsession. Hip hop, to me is like an obsession and that’s why it’s such a major part of my sound.

Let’s talk about dance music influences in the same way, take it way back…

The first thing I ever discovered was in 2009, it was Tiësto’s Power Mix. From there, it kind of evolved. Legends like Carl Cox, Stacey Pullen — the whole Detroit sound, like Kevin Saunderson — where dance music really came from. The roots of dance music and even before that. Hip hop culture definitely influenced dance music from the beginning as well.

So, when did it start coming together for you, to make hybrid of your own that sounds distinct?

Destructo was a huge influence on that. I heard “Rondo” by him back in the day, and that’s a Torren Foot track, from Australia. He played it at, I think it was HARD Day of the Dead and for so long I was like — Yo, how can I mesh house music and hip hop? Because I love both genres. And then I heard that and was like — Oh, they’re putting rap vocals on a house beat! That was 2012 I think? 2013, around then…

I don’t think it really came to fruition for me on the production side until maybe 2014 or 15 when I was like — ok, this is what I really want to do. Then, over time, I feel as a producer your sound evolves and I think it’s evolved into different parts of me as a person. A lot of what I’ll be listening to currently or what I’ve been listening to the last couple years is what will really influence my sound.

For example, J Sirus, the second track on the EP — I found one of his tracks on my Spotify Discover Weekly. I was like — Yo this dude’s really, really dope! I’m just gonna hit him up and see if he wants to do something. And I hit him up and he was super cool. Now we’re homies and we’re working on stuff.

I’ve been listening to a ton of BSF and Benny The Butcher and the whole Griselda crew — like Westside and Conway the Machine. So BSF is Benny’s label, it’s the Black Soprano Family, right — and Chase Fetti is on there, I have a couple tracks coming out with him. Both are gonna come out later this year, one is with Dr. Fresch. I have a track with Rick Hyde who they’re saying is next up in the BSF crew. For me, the reason that I think that I’m enjoying them so much is because they’re working with people like Jadakiss and Fat Joe and Raekwon and guys from the East Coast — from the East Coast hip hop that I love so much. So, it’s almost a fresh sound in a sense how they’re doing it, but it brings back that nostalgia of what hip hop used to be in the 90s. And that’s been really enjoyable for me as a listener — and the fact they’re from Buffalo is just a plus.

Let’s shift into the “Twitter drama” you got into saying, “EDM needs more hip hop influence and I’m gonna bring that to the table.” Can you expand on that a little bit?

In the tweet I wasn’t saying that I was ever the first one to do this. I respect every single person who has brought hip hop into dance music. I was just stating what I’m doing currently and what’s important to me. I’m trying to push the EDM/hip hop relationship forward and work with different underground rappers who normally wouldn’t be connected to dance music. That’s what really excites me as the producer and helps other artists to break out of their comfort zone. I just want to contribute to the extended history of people meshing the two genres together and presenting the best possible music I can.

Typically I don’t speak on things like this, I’m usually a pretty quiet person. There’s a lot of people who brought hip hop into dance music before me and I know that for sure. I don’t want to say too much on it — It’s just the way I was feeling at the time and it was just the way I expressed how I was feeling about my music.

Moving into the future, if we had a BIJOU festival — what would that be like? Half dance, half hip hop?

I’ll kind of let you in on something, right? So with my last album, in Phoenix we were gonna do Diamond City Fest…

OMG!

Yeah, so obviously we couldn’t do that because of COVID. We were planning it and it wasn’t going to be a huge thing. I was going to start it somewhat small and build it up. I want to showcase the sound that I’m really believing in and showcase my homies, and the people who I think are upcoming and the hip hop I really care about. So, I think it would be a mesh of the two. What I think would be really cool is find a way to bring that influence of hip hop and dance music into one — where rappers have their own sets and we get to bring out these crews, then the dance music artists who are working with rappers, they get to bring them out for the features and the tracks they’re on. I think that would be dope and fun!

The biggest thing for me has always been trying to expand the sound of music. It’s always been important to me to showcase up and coming artists as well. For example, I have this EP coming out on Night Bass and I’ve always been thankful for AC, because he really believed in me early on when my music wasn’t getting signed and nobody was believing in what I was doing. I was needing some support. Guys like him, Wax Motif and Fresch, I give a lot of credit to. Early on, they were showing me love and supporting — and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do and give back for younger artists as well.

Have you ever rapped on one of your tracks or do you have any desire to?

I haven’t rapped on one. That’s a great question, because I’ve never talked about it before. It’s something some of my peers have told me I should do. I can’t freestyle. I can write a little bit and it’s something I’m passionate about and I’m willing to try it. But, I have to figure out how I would do it.

In “One Life,” the song with Kaleena Zanders she literally forced me to go into the booth and sing on part of it and it’s actually in the song and it’s autotuned, but it’s tucked really, really deep. You can’t really hear it, but it’s there. That’s the only time my voice has been on a song.

I have a song with a friend of mine who goes by KIRA-X23 and she did the vocals on it and then I went in and did a bunch of hip hop ad libs and things of that sort. So, it’s a possibility and something that could happen, who knows?

Bringing it back to the EP, what does this release on Night Bass mean to you?

For me, it’s always special releasing with Night Bass just because they’re a label who believed in me from early on, like I was saying. Being such good friends with Aaron, it’s always fun and always a seamless process. He’s just a good dude — past the artist part, as a person, he’s a great guy so it’s always enjoyable to work with him.

The EP is something that I’m really digging into my sound in regards to G-House and going back to the roots of the sound in a sense with a little bit of new flavor. I think that’s important, because something that I think is so crucial as an artist is sticking to your roots. Evolving and expanding, but still knowing where you came from.

I really like how the EP progresses, opening up with “Big Racks,” into “Zodiac,” and then “Liquid Swords” goes off like crazy!

Yeah, it’s kind of how I build out my sets sometimes. I’ll come in hot, build it up and chill it out for a minute, and then we’ll end strong.

And it’s funny because “Big Racks” was actually the last one that I finished for the EP and it came together so quick. Because I hit up Elcamino — and was like, hey I wanna get some vocals — and they got done the next day, which is unheard of. It was for a different song and I was like — I think I’m gonna write something new around this, I have an idea. Then I wrote “Big Racks” and then sent it to Aaron and he was like — “Yeah, this is hot, I’m super in for this one.” He’s a fan of Elcamino, too. Him and I vibe on hip hop, we really like the same type of hip hop, so it’s cool.

Is there anything else you want to plug?

I just want to shout out to all the guys I’m working with — Rick, Chase, J Sirus, Elcamino, all the guys over there. Hezzy’s another guy who’s part of BSF. My whole team and then Night Bass — and just say thank you — because it’s dope that I can continue to push my sound.


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