It’s been a whirlwind 18 months for emerging talent, Bklava. In that time the half Lebanese-British musician went from relative obscurity to becoming one of UKG’s most promising talents, gaining plaudits from the likes of Annie Mac and the Radio 1 family in the process. Bemused by the lack of female DJ’s on the circuit, she created her own platform – called ‘Spin Suga’ – to open the door for a wave of fresh talent in the hope of evening out the industry. To top it all off, just last month Bklava signed to the infamous Ministry of Sound label, a surreal experience and quite the crazy year and a half. We catch up with the exciting artist to see what’s coming next.
The artists upbringing laid the seeds for a career in music. Inspired by her father, who was an Irish-Folk Singer and songwriter, Bklava was regularly writing her own songs from a young age.
“Since I was 9, I started writing then, my first song was “Good Friends” and I cannot remember how it goes or if it’s any good! I started taking it a bit more seriously around 12 writing songs with my guitar! It’s been on and off, but I started producing a few years back and taking it more seriously in the past 18 months.”
With her Father laying the seeds for a singing career, the artists Mother’s Lebanese heritage paved the way to mix her talented vocal ability with something else.
“Dancing is big part of Lebanese culture. My mum (who was born in Beirut, came to the UK when she was 18) has always loved dance music so the two went hand in hand. I’ve been singing all my life; it comes very naturally to me. I like to show a different side of dance where you can still feel good and express something emotional with the crowd and this my way of communicating that.”
Bklava’s eyes were opened to the prospect of a career in dance music when she noticed the high standard female DJ’s were setting at festivals, a sight that inspired her.
“I hadn’t really thought about it until I saw other female DJ’s popping up and thought it was pretty cool and something I can do – specifically Monki, Annie Mac and Hannah Wants. I remember when I was 16-18 I hadn’t seen lots of female DJs, so when I did I was in awe and I really enjoyed their shows specifically as I felt they were quite diverse in their taste. I know I like lots of different things and they made me acknowledge my taste in music that I wanted to share with other people!”
The lack of Female DJ’s and Producers in the dance industry posed a difficult situation for the young artist. How could those who inspired her to go for it, be so underrepresented? Hence, she launched ‘Spin Suga’, a platform created to be an entry point for Women who may feel daunted entering an industry that’s so Male dominated.
“When I started, I didn’t have any resources around me, and I didn’t have any support groups to help me. I think it’s important to have a network of people who support you. In a male dominated industry, it can be daunting for young womxn surrounded by men, so you need the support of your peers. Because before you’ve even started DJing as a non-male you’re already being judged by your male counterparts. That’s the fear that stops you coming out and practicing your skills and getting better, meaning you need to work twice as hard just to prove you can do it too. So, I started with workshops and I interviewed womxn with different levels of success, from bedroom DJs and producers to womxn touring and playing in Ibiza, and sharing these stories to inspire everyone, not just me!”
18 months isn’t a long period of time to be doing anything, let alone putting your full energy into a music career. However, things have moved faster than ever imagined. With the sound of UK Garage firmly at the heart of her productions, its Bklava’s singing ability that adds the unique edge; being able to do both is a rare trait to have – the possibilities become endless. The artist has showcased great depth in her releases, from the club ready hit ‘Got it Good’ to the more down tempo ‘Slow Down’, sure signs of future promise.
Clearly her releases have impressed many, with the artist signing to the legendary Ministry of Sound label just last month. A dream moment for any producer, let alone when it comes so early on in your career.
“It’s actually crazy and I still haven’t processed it. The first club I ever went to was Ministry Of Sound – on my 18th Birthday! I’ve been following MOS, everything they do and all their artists for years, so if you had told me I when I was 15 I would be signing to them 10 years later I would never have believed you….so I’m very happy!”
Just last week, Bklava released her debut single on the label – ‘Thinkin Of You’. A song where her powerful vocals deliver soaring levels of emotion to a beat full of groove – it could very easily be the sound of the summer. It sets a high bar for her future releases, but one I’m sure she will continue to smash out of the park. “With this song I wanted to show how diverse I can be with my voice as well as my music- so I’ve gone for a massive chorus! I created the song structure specifically for everyone to sing out and dance to – it’s got an all-round good vibe!”
Plaudits have rained in from the like of Annie Mac, Toddla T and DJ Target, with numerous plays on Radio 1 along the way. Annie Mac was one of those original DJ’s that inspired Bklava and now an avid supporter – a surreal experience.
“Some of the DJS that have played my songs I’ve been following for years and are true pioneers of the industry, so I’m blown away that they like my music let alone play it on the radio. It’s obviously reached a wider audience and allows more people to hear my music which I am grateful for”
With the last year and a half blowing away all expectations, what comes next for the artist in 2020?
“Share more music with you and subject to the pandemic I’m off to Prague to play Foreverland Winter Festival in December. Take over the world!”
It’s great to see the artist taking it just one day at a time. The last 18 months showed just how much potential the artist has – it would be hard to find anyone that would bet against her being a huge success in the future, I know I wouldn’t.