Name: BERWYN / Berwyn Du Bois
Occupation: Rapper, producer, songwriter
Current release: BERWYN's new mixtape TAPE 2/FOMALHAUT is out now on all major streaming and download platforms.
Recommendations: "Lucid dreams" by the Cocaine 80’s, no one knows this song and it’s legendary. Also, "It is what it is" by a rapper called Just Solo.
If you enjoyed this interview with BERWYN and would like to find out more about his work, visit him on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
In the year 2011, when they brought a new Mac to the school. And my influences vary a lot, they stretch from jazz singers to 90’s rappers.
But in terms of my modern understanding I’d say somewhere between Ed Sheeran and Drake.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I just wrote a shit load of music and noticed what worked well and what didn't. It’s all trial and error.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
Everyone always says one thing to be successful in music is to have your own sound. That is only gonna come from your unique personality.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
The resources were always challenging - not having what I needed to do the job as well as it could be done. But this forced me in a corner to make the most of what I had. There’s niceness in that.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
Not to write a sob story but I didn't have many choices. Me and my boy Alfie went halves on a Mac computer, we broke the bank for it and it was all we had so we made do.
I’m not really a tech person, I got a little bit of pocket change now so if I’m in a session and I see something I like, I might go home and buy it, maybe that.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
The computer is an instrument on its own and to be honest it’s my favourite instrument, it doesn’t have a limit - not one.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I usually do everything on my own. But when I collaborate there's no real method, just whatever opportunity the stars have to offer. I entertain and if we end up with a good song then that’s cool. If not then that's also cool
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
No fixed schedule, I live on a 24hr basis. I wake up, deal with the day then go back to bed and repeat it tomorrow. There's too many dates and deadlines and possible this and that’s to look forward to. It could get quite long if I had to train myself to just wake up, check my calendar and deal with today as well as I can to the best of my ability using all my focus.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Not really, I guess I’m still waiting for one of those.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Not too sure really, I guess a positive mind always works better. Lately I’ve just been trying to prioritise my own needs more and rest when I’m tired and eat when I’m hungry. Maybe that might help.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
Yes it’s long having to draw up all your trauma to make a living in front of strangers all the time. It's strange but every duty comes with sacrifice. Working in an office fucks up your back. At least my back’s gonna be cool (laughs).
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
Don't think about it too much. I believe in higher powers and if a man had bad intentions, then that's between him and them.
You could say I feed my family every day from cultural appropriation it's such a shaded area to be honest I don’t give too many fucks. I just do me.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
Not sure. All I know is that music is better with your eyes closed and your mind shut. So maybe when it doesn't overlap with anything.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I understand my responsibilities and I have no problem being honest. That's my approach
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
A wise rapper once said “the truth don't rhyme”.